Just look at Omer Asik's face in the photo above. That's the face of a man making an impact. He could also be sneezing, but he's definitely making an impact while sneezing.
The NBA is pretty predictable, year to year, but a frenzied offseason and a recent massive trade have shaken things up. Usually, free-agent acquisitions and rookies don't help their teams substantially, but that could be changing even though it's still the early days in the NBA.
Say hello to the more fluid NBA. Thank the new CBA while you're at it.
In an odd twist of trade-reaction fate, everybody talked about Oklahoma City, few people talked about Houston, and fewer people talked about Kevin Martin on Oklahoma City.
We'll talk about James Harden later, as he's been absolutely killing it with the Rockets. But guess what? Kevin Martin has been fantastic for OKC. K-Mart is averaging 20.7 points on .531 shooting. This probably isn't sustainable, but for the time being, the Thunder haven't lost anything in Harden's absence.
Of course, Kevin Martin is a huge injury risk and plays rancid defense. We'll worry about those things later, if and when they become issues.
Hey, remember Jeremy Lin? I know, he doesn't live in New York anymore, but I swear he exists. If Lin was cranking out 15 points, seven assists and six boards for the Knicks, "Linsanity!" would be in the air.
In Houston, his quality point-guard play is met with a shrug. Lin is dazzling in a pick-and-roll combo—all the more so when he's taking turns with James Harden probing a defense.
Considering that Toronto spent over $40 million for DeMar DeRozan, Lin's $25 million deal may have been a bit too criticized. He's been good in the early going—even better than the newly svelte Ray Felton in New York.
Here's another guy from the made-over Houston Rockets. Omer Asik's statistics are terrible, but that's only because most of our stats are offense-based. This guy is and should be Houston's defense going forward.
Asik is incredibly mobile for a seven footer and protects the rim with aplomb. As an added bonus, he's something of an offensive helper. Asik sets rugged, illegal screens for James Harden and Jeremy Lin. He's also there to clean up their misses on drives with a timely tip-in.
The game was a reminder that Dwight reigns supreme at the center spot—an incredible combination of power and speed. He needs to play a bit better defensively to move up to the No. 1 ranking here, but that should come.
For now, Dwight Howard is a step slower than usual. But look at what he can do, even with compromised mobility.
All hail the Bearded One. All fear the Bearded One. James Harden has been a revelation in Rocket red. In his first two games, he went off for an efficient 37 and 45 points.
With his efficient shooting and passing, those two games rank against any that Russell Westbrook has played in.
It would seem that he's worth the max money, and pundits should stop questioning his ability to be "the man." In two games, James Harden breathed life into a long dormant franchise. I'm not certain as to how good Houston can be, but this must be the most excited its fanbase has been since Yao Ming.
Quite the impact, I would say.