Culture of Hoops

State of The NBA Part I: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

Screen capture courtesy of the NBA/YouTube.

Screen capture courtesy of the NBA/YouTube.

The 2016-2017 NBA season is rounding into shape as the first quarter of games are complete. As expected, there a multitude of teams and players playing at a high level. While success is something that all want to meet, there are players and teams that aren’t reaching that goal.

As the season progresses, players and teams will find their groove, sustain success, and fall from grace. Here at H&H we want to give you a list of who have dabbled in the hot and not section. Did your favorite player show us why he was hot? Did your favorite team fiddle into the not division? The only way to find out to is to take a gander at the list below.

Who’s Not: Cleveland Cavaliers

After losing to the Chicago Bulls, LeBron James voiced his issues about the team. If history tells us anything, it informs that when the King speaks everyone listens. Coincidentally, the Cavaliers  won their first game after losing three straight. They defeated  the Toronto Raptors, but they gave up 112 points. The Raptors is a team that they will likely face in the playoffs and Cleveland needs to tighten things up  before real concern arises.

Despite hitting a bump on a road to repeating, Cleveland is still atop of the Eastern Conference. For championship teams losing early is a great way to regain focus, and for the Cavaliers, it may be what’s needed as the team looks to hold on the No. 1 spot in their conference.

Who’s Hot: Kyle Lowry
The All-Star point guard has had his way with teams over the past four games. The former Villanova Wildcat is averaging 23.5 points while shooting over 67 percent from the field and over 70 percent from the three. While DeMar DeRozan continues to dominate the headlines,

Lowry continues to prove he is the engine that makes Toronto go. With Lowry’s elite play, the Raptors now sit one game behind the Cavs. The Raptors are on a six-game winning streak, and the streak will only improve if Lowry keeps it up.

Who’s Not: Draymond Green’s Feet
Draymond Green continues to be the heartbeat to the Golden State Warriors.  His ability to play as a Swiss-Army knife allows the Warriors to play at a championship level. In lieu of his play on the court, he continues to engage in such behavior that he just can’t kick. If you have a kick compilation on YouTube, it notes concern. It began during last year’s playoffs as he had multiple incidents of kicking opponents.

While it seemed like it simmered down a bit, he had two incidents last week. In a good ole Western Conference shootout, Green received a flagrant foul for kicking James Harden in the face area. Soon after that, he kicked Phoenix Suns rookie Marquese Chriss injuring his pinky.

Due to last year’s kicking exhibition, the NBA is aware of Green’s happy feet. While it may sound faultless, but if he keeps it up, he may kick the title hopes away from the Warriors. If that transpires, I’m sure he can spend his summer in the WWE channeling his inner Shawn Michaels.

Who’s Hot: Paul George
The Indiana Pacers superstar has missed six of the past seven games due to an ankle injury. Sunday night, he made his long-awaited return against the Los Angeles Clippers. In a homecoming game, George had a solid all-around game. He stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, five assists, seven rebounds, and a clutch three-pointer with 48 seconds left in the game to seal the deal.

To some, it’s premature to praise him in his first game back, but knowing George’s aptitude to perform at a high level his place on the list stands firm.

Who’s Not: The Atlanta Hawks
Do you remember when Atlanta was 9-2? At the start of the season, they were one of the feel-good stories of the NBA. Well, it’s safe to say that feeling has evaporated in Phillips Arena.

There are many signs that point to the recent failures of the Atlanta Hawks. For starters, their jerseys are hideous and the honeymoon with Dwight Howard has soured. The Hawks have lost six straight and it’s been revealed that they are missing former all-everything point guard Jeff Teague. In addition to the loss of Teague, Kyle Korver isn’t hitting shots, Dennis Schroder has been inconsistent, and Howard has been meh.

All is not lost for the Hawks because the season is young. Paul Millsap has nursed a hip injury, and his return to the court will give them a much-needed boost.

Who’s Hot: Klay Thompson

The Golden State Warriors sharpshooter went off for 60 points in just 29 minutes. Thompson, who’s play has taken a step back since the arrival of Kevin Durant displayed that he is still arguably the best shooting guard in the NBA. Last night’s display of shooting was amazing to witness. From a fan’s prospective, I wanted to see him shoot the ball all night, but Steve Kerr pulled him after the game got out of hand.

Who’s Not: Dwight Howard

As mentioned, the Atlanta Hawks are trending down. The same could be said for their hometown hero, Dwight Howard. Howard was on the wrong end of a dunk yesterday as Victor Oladipo put him on a poster. It appeared that Howard was in perfect position to make the block, but Oladipo went up another level to slam it home over Howard. To add insult to injury, the artist formerly known as Superman ended the game with a pedestrian six points and seven rebounds.

Who’s Hot: Russell Westbrook
The nightly spectacle of the Russell Westbrook show has captivated basketball fans far, near, and wide. The All-Pro point guard is chasing history as he averages a triple-double on the year. On top of averaging a triple-double, Westbrook has six straight in the last five games. It’s the first time that someone accomplished it since Michael Jordan did it in 1989. Jordan’s streak ended at 7, so it’ll be interesting if Russ does the impossible in reach M.J.’s record.

In addition to being a hoarder of NBA records, Westbrook’s Thunder is on a six-game winning streak. Prior to the season, it was expected that Westbrook would take his game to a new level without Kevin Durant, and as expected he’s been nothing short of amazing.

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