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60 Most Shocking Trends 2 Weeks into the 2012 NBA Season

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2017

60 Most Shocking Trends 2 Weeks into the 2012 NBA Season

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    Especially when it has to do with the NBA, small sample size is one of my favorite lines to use during an argument about sports. Generally, the fact that we don't have that much evidence is overlooked. 

    Chances are, if you make a point to me, I may respond by saying, "Psh, don't forget about sample size." Sometimes I'm joking. Sometimes I'm not. 

    It's why my sports-loving friends loved it when my dad used the sample size argument with me during a debate. 

    But for this article, we're throwing sample sizes out the window. 

    Read on for 60 trends that I've identified after the first 14 days of the NBA season. 

Al Harrington Is Back

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    Al Harrington was stuck on the bench for most of each game after he was traded to the Denver Nuggets last season. Things only got worse when Carmelo Anthony was traded and the Nuggets decided to decrease his role even more while expanding those of the young players on the roster. 

    This season though, Harrington has been phenomenal, averaging 15.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game so far during the young season. His 56.6 percent shooting from the field is probably unsustainable, but let's enjoy this renaissance while it lasts. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 5 out of 10

Andrew Bynum Looks Like He's on Dwight Howard's Level

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    We all knew that Andrew Bynum was talented when he was healthy and actually on the court. I don't think anyone realized he could be just this good though. 

    Bynum's first game after serving his suspension to start the year resulted in a ridiculous 29 points and 13 rebounds. After recording a 20-20, Bynum's averages are holding steady at 19.6 points and 15.8 rebounds per game. 

    The big man's PER so far is 25.09, trailing only nine qualified players. The only center ahead of him on the leaderboard is Dwight Howard, just two spots higher at 25.95. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 8 out of 10

Boston Celtics May Have Lost Contender Status

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    The Boston Celtics won just four of their eight games to open the 2011-2012 campaign, although that statistic has to be taken with a grain of salt since Paul Pierce missed time with an injury. 

    But if you look even harder, you realize that the 4-4 start is a bit of a mirage. Boston took advantage of playing four weak teams by beating the Washington Wizards twice, the New Jersey Nets once and the Detroit Pistons once. Against quality opponents, namely the New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, the C's are winless. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 7 out of 10

Byron Mullens Is Breaking out

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    Byron Mullens never receive much of an opportunity while playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the team's D-League affiliate, but he's getting a chance with the Charlotte Bobcats. 

    In 18.8 minutes per game, the seven-footer who prefers to play on the perimeter is averaging 11.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 0.6 blocks per game with a PER of 22.03. With a thin frontcourt, don't expect for the newest player of note on the Bobcats to just go away. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 7 out of 10

Charlotte Bobcats Have a Terrific One-Two Punch at Point Guard

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    D.J. Augustin, coming of a 20-point, 12-assist performance in an overtime loss to the fatigued Atlanta Hawks, is doing everything he can to hold onto his starting job.

    Augustin may not be shooting the ball too efficiently, but he's scoring when he needs to, finding open teammates, pulling down rebounds and playing solid defense for the Charlotte Bobcats. So far, he's averaging 17.3 points, 7.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game with a PER north of 20. 

    His backup, rookie Kemba Walker, hasn't received nearly as many minutes but he's shown sparks of brilliance during his time on the court. Walker has shown explosive scoring abilities so far during his first season in the NBA and he's only going to get better. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 10 out of 10

Cleveland Cavaliers Are Winning Games

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    Going into Sunday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Cleveland Cavaliers were 4-3, winning games at a much higher rate than anyone but Dan Gilbert thought possible. 

    Now to be fair, there wins are against the Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets, Charlotte Bobcats and Minnesota Timberwolves, but Cavs fans will take what they can get at this point. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 1 out of 10

Dallas Mavericks Aren't Putting Up a Convincing Title Defense

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    After the Dallas Mavericks lost Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea, the expectations went down a little bit for the defending champions, but no one thought they would be this bad. 

    A team that features way too many players on the wrong side of 30, the Mavs lost their first three contests en route to a 4-5 record to start the season. 

    They did get a big win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the Mavericks have yet to truly get the ball rolling in the right direction for their title defense. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 4 out of 10

Danny Granger Can't Shoot

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    Chalk this one up to the flukiness of small sample size. 

    Danny Granger is a career 44 percent shooter from the field but he's hit on only 30.7 percent of his attempts this season. 

    Seeing as the Indiana Pacers are still 6-2, this could be a scary realization for the other members of the Eastern Conference. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 0 out of 10

Darius Morris Hasn't Been Given a Chance

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    Darius Morris was one of my favorite prospects going into the 2011 NBA Draft. He was drafted into the perfect situation with the point guard-hungry Los Angeles Lakers and it looked even better for him. 

    But the team decided to roll with fellow rookie Andrew Goudelock instead of Morris and the former Michigan floor general has yet to play a single minute at the professional level. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 5 out of 10

DeMarcus Cousins Wins

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    DeMarcus Cousins reportedly demanded a trade, then said he didn't. Then his agent said he didn't. Then his coach, Paul Westphal, stood by his statements. 

    The situation could have gone quite a few different ways, but Westphal allowed Cousins to return to the team and then the coach was fired. 

    I have no idea what to make of the second-year player's head, but his skills on the basketball court are just ridiculous. He may cause more problems lately, but he won the first fight of the season, for better or for worse, just by getting his way. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 9 out of 10

Denver Nuggets Are Contenders in the West

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    Could we have out newest example of the Ewing Theory now that Carmelo Anthony has left the Denver Nuggets and the team has actually improved?

    The Nuggets are a ridiculously deep team without a star player, but they're winning a hell of a lot of games thanks to good chemistry and an understanding of roles. 

    At 6-3, the Nuggets have only lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 8 out of 10

Depth Reigns Supreme in San Antonio

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    A lot of people, myself included, thought that the title window was closed for the aging San Antonio Spurs.

    It turns out that depth can sometimes mitigate the negative impact of old age on a team. 

    With a 6-2 record thanks to the contributions of Manu Ginobili (although he's injured for a while), Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair, Gary Neal, Daniel Green, Tiago Splitter, James Anderson, Matt Bonnner, T.J. Ford and Kawhi Leonard...deep breath...the Spurs are here to stay for one more year. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 10 out of 10

Deron Williams Can't Shoot

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    Part of the reason that the New Jersey Nets have drastically underperformed is the horrific shooting of Deron Williams. 

    The talented point guard doesn't seem to understand that the ball is supposed to go through the hoop. A lifetime 46 percent shooter from the field, Williams has a putrid 34.6 mark this season. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 0 out of 10

Derrick Favors Is Playing Well

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    Derrick Favors was the central piece in the trade that brought Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz to the New Jersey Nets, but he hasn't' proven just why quite yet. 

    That's changing this year as the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket is averaging 8.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in limited action. In a crowded frontcourt, the raw forward is never going to get the bulk of the minutes, but he's showing he is indeed a player worth monitoring. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 8 out of 10

Derrick Rose Is the Best Point Guard in the NBA

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    He makes big shots at the end of games. 

    He plays good defense.

    He's an unstoppable scorer when he needs to be. 

    He finds open teammates when he has to. 

    Derrick Rose has elevated his game and taken the crown as the best point guard in the NBA, just ahead of Chris Paul.

     

    Sustainability Meter: 9 out of 10

Dorell Wright Has Regressed Immensely

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    Dorell Wright in 2010-2011: 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.5 steals

    Dorell Wright in 2011-2012: 5.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.0 assist, 0.4 blocks, 0.8 steals

     

    I think it's safe to say that the Golden State Warriors' big breakout player of last season has regressed quite a bit. 

    However, he's going to start shooting better than 32.7 percent from the field and 18.5 percent from downtown. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 2 out of 10

Glen Davis Has Been Terrible

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    I still have no idea why the Orlando Magic traded Brandon Bass, who was both better and cheaper, for Glen Davis. 

    Davis has been significantly worse than advertised, putting up a PER of just 5.38 going into Sunday night's game against the Sacramento Kings. 

    That's all you really need to hear. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 5 out of 10

Golden State Warriors Are Playing Better Defense Than Offense

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    The Golden State Warriors are averaging 89.9 points per game, good enough for 25th in the league. On defense though, they're allowing just 96.1 points per contest. Even though that number is higher than the first one, it's the 21st-best mark in the NBA. 

    Who woulda thought?

     

    Sustainability Meter: 2 out of 10

Greg Stiemsma Is a Shot-Blocking Machine

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    The six-foot-11 rookie center who I'd never heard of before this season continues to make noise in the big leagues. 

    Ever since Jermaine O'Neal went down with an injury, Greg Stiemsma has won over the hearts of Boston Celtics fans with his shot-blocking abilities, averaging 2.2 per game so far this season. 

    A former member of the Wisconsin Badgers, Stiemsma doesn't do much else besides block shots, but he sure does that part well. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 7 out of 10

Hakim Warrick Is Leading the Phoenix Suns in Scoring

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    During the second season of his NBA career, spent with the Memphis Grizzlies, Hakim Warrick averaged 12.7 points per game. Since then, he's never even matched that mark. 

    But so far this season, coming off the bench in all six of the Phoenix Suns' games, Warrick is averaging 12.7 points per contest once more and leading his team in scoring. 

    When was the last time that kind of average led a team?

     

    Sustainability Meter: 1 out of 10

Hasheem Thabeet Is Perfect

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    Hasheem Thabeet has taken three shots this season and he's made them all. 

    Does anyone honestly think he's going to continue that kind of perfection?

     

    Sustainability Meter: -10 out of 10

Iman Shumpert Is Earning a Starting Spot

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    Iman Shumpert was supposed to be one of the more raw prospects in the 2012 draft class, but he's made the most of his opportunity off the bench with the New York Knicks and has now earned a starting spot just two weeks into his rookie season. 

    With his 42-inch vertical leap, Shumpert excelled on the season's opening day before going down with an injury. Fortunately for the Knicks, he's picked up right where he left off. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 8 out of 10

Ivan Johnson Emerges from Nowhere

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    I was watching the Atlanta Hawks fall to the Miami Heat in triple-overtime with one of my friends when I turned to him and asked "Who in the world is Ivan Johnson?" To be perfectly honest though, that's the censored version of the quote. 

    To answer the question, let me direct you to an article from Grantland that will have you laughing out loud. 

     

    Sustainability meter: 3 out of 10

Jamal Crawford Has Struggled for His New Team

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    I apologize for the picture of Jamal Crawford in an Atlanta Hawks uniform, but one of him in his new Portland Trail Blazers gear has yet to appear in the Getty Images database. 

    Similarly, Crawford has yet to truly appear in a positive way for the Blazers. Crawford has shot just 35.2 percent from the field and struggled in the fourth quarter of close games. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 4 out of 10

James Harden Helping Form a Big Three in Oklahoma City

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    We all know that Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are excellent players. It seemed a universal agreement that James Harden was eventually going to get there. 

    But if he keeps up his early season pace, we may have to consider the bearded one in that first tier of Oklahoma City Thunder players. 

    Averaging 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, Harden has a PER of 24.75 this season, barely losing out to Durant in the category and destroying Westbrook. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 7 out of 10

Jarrett Jack Has Been Capable Replacing Chris Paul

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    It seems as though Jarrett Jack has always been a player that gets forgotten about. 

    This season, without Chris Paul in front of him on the depth chart, it's becoming much harder to forget about Jack. 

    Jack has averaged an outstanding 16.1 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game so far this season and is at least keeping the New Orleans Hornets afloat. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 7 out of 10

Jason Kidd Finally Succumbs to Age

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    Jason Kidd, currently sitting out thanks to a lower back injury, is now 38 years old. It was only a matter of time before the point guard succumbed to that nasty think called middle agedom. 

    Kidd is only averaging 4.9 points, 4.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game, a far cry from the stats we're accustomed to seeing from him. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 4 out of 10

Jimmer Fredette Has Struggled

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    Jimmer Fredette is a player we haven't really seen in the NBA before. No one is sure what exactly to make of him. 

    For example, I tend to believe that he'll be successful down the road, even if he's never a star. 

    Jimmer has been able to score the basketball so far, averaging 9.4 points per game going into Sunday night's contest, but he's had to take an inordinate amount of shots to do so. The sooner he learns not to try to take on defenders like Tony Allen in a one-on-one setting, the better. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 3 out of 10

Joakim Noah Has Regressed

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    That look on Joakim Noah's face says it all. 

    The former Florida Gator is struggling immensely to start the 2011-2012 season, averaging just 7.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game so far. 

    Noah has always been a high energy player and his struggles are not due to a lack of effort. He just seems a bit uncomfortable out on the court right now. 

    Fortunately for the Chicago Bulls, Noah's problems haven't kept them from a winning record as they've opened up a 7-2 start to their newest campaign. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 2 out of 10

John Wall Is Not Exactly Breaking out

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    This was supposed to be the year that John Wall took the next step and became a superstar in the NBA. Yeah...about that. 

    The Washington Wizards are 0-8 and a large part of the blame rests on Wall's shoulders as the point guard is averaging 15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. With a cursory glance, his numbers look good. 

    But when you realize the talented floor general is shooting just 35.6 percent from the field and turning the ball over 3.9 times per game, the image is shattered. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 3 out of 10

Jonas Jerebko Is Ready to Be Known

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    Raise your hand if you'd heard of Jonas Jerebko going into this season. 

    Not that there are many hands up, but quite a few of you are probably lying. 

    If you're still not familiar with the second-year forward for the Detroit Pistons, go read a little bit more about him. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 8 out of 10

Jose Calderon Is a Solid Point Guard

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     Is there any doubt anymore that the Toronto Raptors should keep Jerryd Bayless on the bench and Jose Calderon in the starting lineup? 

    I've never understood why people don't like Calderon, which is probably one of the reasons he always seems to end up on my fantasy teams. 

    This year, Calderon is off to a blazing start, averaging 12.4 points, 9.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. With a PER of 21.75, the 30-year-old point guard is proving he belongs. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 9 out of 10

Kevin Love Is the Best Power Forward in the NBA

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    The best power forward in the NBA isn't Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Amar'e Stoudemire or Al Horford. 

    It's Kevin Love, the best rebounder in the league and a man who can school you with his post moves or his three-point shot. 

    Since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did so in 1975, no player has scored at least 2 points and hauled in 12 boards in each of his first six games to start a season. Love is nine games into the 2011-2012 season and has yet to fall short of either number. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 10 out of 10

Kyle Lowry Has Been Simply Phenomenal

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    It will be interesting to see how legal accusations affect Kyle Lowry's season after some misdemeanor battery charges surfaced, claiming that the point guard threw the basketball at a female referee during a game in Las Vegas. 

    But on the court, Lowry has been simply phenomenal. 

    The sixth-year player from Villanova is averaging 15.3 points, 10.0 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game, rocketing his way to a stellar 26.42 PER through six games of action.

     

    Sustainability Meter: 5 out of 10 

Kyrie Irving Is a Legitimate Starter Already

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    There was no doubt in my mind that Kyrie Irving should be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and he's doing his best to justify his selection. 

    The former Duke phenom has played quite well during his rookie season, averaging 14.1 points, 5.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game going into Sunday night's contest with the Portland Trail Blazers. 

    There have been some mishaps, like his blown layup to win a game, but Irving has showed a tantalizing mix of skills and intangibles and should be a valuable player for a very long time. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 10 out of 10

Lamar Odom Can't Do Anything

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    Out of respect for the defending champions, I'm going to let the title speak for itself. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 2 out of 10

Lou Williams Is Outplaying Jrue Holiday

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    If you'd told me I'd write that Lou Williams would outplay Jrue Holiday for the first two weeks of the season, I probably would have laughed and then said something along the lines of, "Okay, but seriously, what do you actually think?"

    Any way you look at it, Williams has been better than Holiday, even though both have been an integral part of the Philadelphia 76ers' hot start.

     

    Sustainability Meter: 5 out of 10 (meaning in the case that I have absolutely no idea) 

Los Angeles Clippers Refuse to Run the Right Offense

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    If I had Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on my team, I'd be running pick-and-rolls every single time I found my team in a half-court set. 

    That hasn't been happening and it's a shame. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 4 out of 10

Marc Gasol Is Justifying the Hype

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    Marc Gasol broke out in a big way during the 2011 NBA Playoffs and that more than anything else helped him command a lot of attention during the ensuing free agency period. 

    So far, the younger of the two Gasols is proving that he's worth the hype, averaging a double-double with 14.0 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 9 out of 10

Marcus Morris D-Leagued

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    The Morris twins were supposed to be some of the most NBA-ready prospects in the 2012 draft class, but Marcus Morris has already been assigned to the D-League. 

    Morris has scored more than 30 points in each of his games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and his coach there, Nick Nurse, expects that he won't be there for much longer. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 0 out of 10

Markieff Morris Is Exceeding Expectations

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    The other of the Morris twins, Markieff Morris, is already thriving for the Phoenix Suns. 

    Markieff has received 21.3 minutes per game during his rookie season but has made the most of them. He's averaging 9.1 points, 1.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 52.1 percent from the field with a PER of 18.91. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 7 out of 10

MarShon Brooks Is a Stud

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    MarShon Brooks was one of my favorite NBA prospects and it's nice to see him finally getting the recognition he deserves. 

    Brooks has been one of the few bright spots for the New Jersey Nets and seems to have a real future in this league. 

    He's averaged 13.9 points, 0.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game, putting up a PER of 22.24 so far this season. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 8 out of 10

Marvin Williams Is Actually Good?

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    As an Atlanta Hawks fan, I've been conditioned to strongly dislike Marvin Williams. 

    That's changing and I'm confused. 

    After receiving back surgery in the offseason to alleviate an injury that's been paining him for years, Williams looks like a brand new player. He's averaging 10.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while playing tenacious defense. 

    He's by no means been a star, but he's actually been serviceable. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 7 out of 10

Miami Heat Have Depth

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    The Miami Heat proved they could beat elite teams without LeBron James and Dwyane Wade when Chris Bosh led the team to a triple-overtime victory against the Atlanta Hawks. 

    A surprising amount of depth could dramatically help this team in their pursuit of what seems like an inevitable title. 

    After averaging 21.9 points per game in 17.6 minutes of action per contest last season, the worst numbers in the league, the bench has skyrocketed its production. So far in 2011-2012, it's accumulating 19 minutes and 30 points per game, 19th-best in the NBA. 

    Terrel Harris, Noris Cole, Shane Battier, James Jones and Udonis Haslem are all contributing off the pine and it's paying quite the dividend during an 8-1 run to start the season. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 8 out of 10

Minnesota Timberwolves Are Relevant

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    Who would have thought that the Minnesota Timberwolves would become a must-watch team?

    With Ricky Rubio running the show when he's in the game, Kevin Love doing his thing, Derrick Williams throwing down slam-dunks during his rookie season, Michael Beasley scoring in mercurial fashion and so much more, the Wolves are fun and surprisingly adequate as an NBA team. 

    This team is only going to get better and more fun. That's the truly strange part. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 10 out of 10

Monta Ellis Has Been Dishing the Ball out Quite Well

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    Thanks to a combination of good court vision and a limited Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis has been dishing out the dimes at a rate we haven't seen from him up to this point in his career. 

    Ellis has improved his assist totals almost every year during his career, but the jump from 5.6 per game last year to his current mark of 8.1 per contest is a little bit bigger than any we'd seen before. Couple that with an increased number of turnovers, 3.4 per game, and it appears as though Ellis has just been handling and passing the ball more than normal. 

    It should come as no surprise that his usage rate of 30.9 is easily the highest of his career. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 3 out of 10

New Jersey Nets Are Terrible

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    Despite the best efforts of Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks, the New Jersey Nets have been flat-out terrible. 

    There only two wins of the season are against the Toronto Raptors and the winless Washington Wizards. 

    The Nets are going to have to turn it around quickly if they want to make a convincing pitch to Deron Williams. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 4 out of 10

Norris Cole Is Becoming a Household Name

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    Norris Cole is enough of a household name already among NBA fans that I've already had to include him on a list of overrated players. Here's what I wrote: 

    "If you'd told me that I would be calling Norris Cole overrated just a few weeks into the NBA season, I would have thought you were crazy. Then again, sometimes I forget just how hard it is to stop the uninformed bandwagon from rolling along once it starts. 

    After Cole's late-game heroics for the Miami Heat at the beginning of the season, everyone was ready to declare this Cleveland State alumnus the greatest thing since sliced bread. This was despite the fact that almost no one had even heard of the guy before the Heat drafted him.

    As someone who closely follows NBA prospects from the beginning of their collegiate careers (if not earlier) until they shake David Stern's hand after hearing their name called, I can tell you that I loved Cole while he was still a Viking.

    I called him one of the more underrated players over and over again as he slowly crept up draft boards into his eventual position. 

    I love the guy, but I also recognize his limitations. Cole is not going to immediately become a player good enough to make it a Big Four in South Beach. He's not going to be an All-Star during his rookie season. He's not even going to be the Rookie of the Year. 

    Yet more people than I would have believed possible were ready to claim all these things after a ridiculously small sample size. 

    The amazing part was that Cole wasn't even that impressive. A week into the season, after Cole had "broken out," his PER was actually in the single digits, making him a player who was below average if anything. It's amazing what a few SportsCenter highlights can do. 

    He's currently shooting an unsustainable 47.8 percent from the field after posting field-goal percentages of 38.0, 45.3, 43.2 and 43.9 percent (in that order) during his collegiate days.

    Plus, he's turning the ball over way too often, with 2.4 turnovers per game in just 22.7 minutes of action per contest. 

    Everything adds up to a PER of 15.89 so far this season, a number that leaves him slightly above average. 

    Cole is going to be a good player in the NBA, maybe even a great one. But please, let's not get ahead of ourselves here."

O.J. Mayo's Play Has Declined

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    No matter how poorly he plays, O.J. Mayo can't do anything worse for the Memphis Grizzlies than land on Zach Randolph's knee and knock him out of play for six to eight weeks. 

    But his play isn't exactly helping to make up for that quite yet. 

    After averaging almost identical numbers during each of his first two seasons, Mayo declined dramatically during his third season out of USC. He's been even worse this year. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 7 out of 10

Ray Allen Hasn't Lost a Step

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    Wasn't this supposed to be the season in which Ray Allen finally took a turn for the worse?

    If anything, he's gotten better, thanks in part to Paul Pierce's early-season absence. 

    With a 23.87 PER thus far, Allen has come out of the gates with anything but a stumble, averaging 20.4 points, 2.4 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 5 out of 10

Richard Jefferson Doesn't Suck

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    Richard Jefferson was pathetically bad each of the last two seasons, posting PERs of 13.18 and 12.42 respectively. 

    But this year, Jefferson has improved dramatically. Going into Sunday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the forward has averaged 14.3 points, 1.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game while improving the PER to 16.72, a number that isn't impressive but is at least above the league average. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 5 out of 10

Ricky Rubio Has Been Sensational

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    I was not a fan of Ricky Rubio at all going into this season. Now, small sample be damned, I'm completely sold on his future in the NBA. 

    The guy has court vision out of this world and he's using his passing ability to create driving lanes for himself. 

    Rubio, to the surprise of almost everyone, is averaging 9.4 points, 6.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game. 

    He's for real. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 10 out of 10

Roy Hibbert Has Easily Been the Indiana Pacers' Best Player

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    Lance Stephenson: 8.0 minutes per game, -2.3 PER

    Louis Amundson: 8.7 minutes per game, 7.1 PER

    Dahntay Jones: 15.3 minutes per game, 8.3 PER

    A.J. Price: 9.0 minutes per game, 9.8 PER

    Danny Granger: 34.6 minutes per game, 12.2 PER

    Paul George: 31.8 minutes per game, 15.1 PER

    George Hill: 24.6 minutes per game, 15.6 PER

    Tyler Hansbrough: 27.8 minutes per game, 16.3 PER

    Darren Collison: 32.9 minutes per game, 17.0 PER

    David West, 27.0 minutes per game, 17.3 PER

    Jeff Foster: 13.5 minutes per game, 18.8 PER

    Roy Hibbert: 29.6 minutes per game, 20.8 PER

     

    Sustainability Meter: 4 out of 10

Rudy Gay Hasn't Stepped It Up Yet

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    Rudy Gay's numbers look decent (16.0 points, 1.6 assists, 8.0 rebounds per game) but he hasn't been efficient and he has yet to truly step up and lift his team to victory, especially in the brief time since Zach Randolph has gone down with an injury. 

    Gay has only hit on 41.4 percent of his shots from the field, going into Sunday night's game with the Los Angeles Lakers, and he's turning the ball over 2.7 times per contest. 

    He's going to get back into top form sooner rather than later, it just hasn't happened yet. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 3 out of 10

Ryan Anderson Could Lead the Three-Point Race

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    Ryan Anderson has been absolutely terrific for the Orlando Magic, especially from beyond the arc. 

    A player who has to be considered for Most Improved Player of the Year, Anderson has hit 29 three-pointers in his first nine games, an average of 3.2 per contest. Only Richard Jefferson has hit as many. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 8 out of 10

Spencer Hawes Is Putting It Together

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    The player I normally refer to as "The Incredibly Soft Spencer Hawes" appears to have made the next step during the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. 

    Hawes has put together well-rounded game after well-rounded game and has been a crucial part of the Philadelphia 76ers' early-season success. 

    Shooting a ridiculous 64.6 percent from the field, Hawes has exploded for 12.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.9 blocks and 0.9 steals per game so far this year. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 3 out of 10

Stephen Jackson Is Not Justifying His Trade

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    When Rotoworld.com runs an article that contains "S-Jax poisoning fantasy owners" in the title, you know that he hasn't been playing very well. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 4 out of 10

Tracy McGrady Returns to Relevance

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    Who would have thought that Tracy McGrady would be making such a big impact during his first season with the Atlanta Hawks? 

    McGrady played a huge role in the Hawks' upset win over the Miami Heat, scoring 16 points, pulling down seven rebounds and dishing out four assists in 26 minutes of action. 

    The aging scorer is doing exactly that so far this year: scoring and aging. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 6 out of 10

Ty Lawson Is an Elite Point Guard

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    When you talk about elite point guards in the NBA, it's time to include Ty Lawson in the discussion. 

    Leading the charge for the upstart Denver Nuggets, the third-year floor general from North Carolina is off to a tremendous start to begin the season. Improving as he has each and ever year, Lawson is averaging 16.6 points, 6.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game. 

    He's shooting 49.1 percent from the field, which is actually lower than his career average, turning the ball over just 2.1 times per contest and has a 21.8 PER, a number which leaves him behind only Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Kyle Lowry, Lou Williams and Jose Calderon. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 9 out of 10

Washington Wizards Are Terrible

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    JaVale McGee's look says it all. The Washington Wizards are much worse than anyone would have expected, losing all eight of their games so far this season. 

    John Wall has been quite disappointing and the team has showed as a whole an ability to both miss shots and allow the other team to score a lot. 

    There's enough young talent that they're going to turn it around, we're just not sure quite when. 

     

    Sustainability Meter: 5 out of 10

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