Can CP3 lead the Hornets back to the playoffs?
We’re just about one week into the highly-anticipated 2010-11 NBA season, and we have a few early-season surprises.
Heading into Wednesday’s action, the Hornets and Hawks are two of the league’s three remaining unbeaten teams, with the Lakers being the other.
Teams many expected to be better than they were in 2009-10 like the Clippers, Rockets and Pistons are all still searching for that elusive first win.
So, that’s plenty of set-up, right?
Let’s get on with it.
1. Los Angeles Lakers (4-0)
The defending champs appear to have rebounded a bit from their shaky opening night win against Houston, and made relatively easy work of the Suns, Warriors and Grizzlies.
Pau Gasol has gotten off to a tremendous start, and is averaging 24.3 points, 11 rebounds and five assists per game.
2. Miami Heat (4-1)
After struggling mightily to open the season against the Celtics, the Heat have won four straight in dominant fashion.
One of the biggest benefactors of the offensive combination of James, Bosh and Wade has been veteran James Jones, who leads the NBA with 18 three-pointers made, including six Tuesday night against Minnesota.
3. Boston Celtics (3-1)
The Celtics are out to prove that they’re still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, and they’ve gotten a tremendous boost from the spectacular Rajon Rondo.
Rondo is averaging an unbelievable 16.9 assists per game, and set an NBA record for the most assists through a team’s first four games with 67.
4. Portland Trail Blazers (4-1)
Portland has posted an impressive 4-1 record despite playing the road for four of their first five games.
There's always one question every year with the Blazers: Can they stay healthy?
5. Atlanta Hawks (4-0)
They haven’t had the toughest schedule to start (Memphis, Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland), but the Hawks have won three of their four games on the road.
Al Horford, fresh off of a new contract extension, has posted three straight double-doubles.
6. Orlando Magic (1-1)
The Magic have played just twice thus far, thanks to Tuesday’s game in New York being postponed due to an asbestos scare.
After staying with the Heat through the first half, the Magic have to be concerned with how quickly Miami was able to dispose of them in the second half last Friday night.
7. New Orleans Hornets (3-0)
You think Chris Paul got tired of hearing people say that he’s behind Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo amongst the best point guards in the game?
CP3 is averaging 20 points, 9.3 assists, and six rebounds per game with a ridiculous assist/turnover ratio of 7.00.
Oh, and the Hornets are undefeated.
8. San Antonio Spurs (2-1)
The Spurs seem almost Patriots-esque in the way that they can just plug in guys that will wind up producing.
Gary Neal, who went undrafted in 2007, filled in admirably for the injured George Hill against the Clippers, scoring 16 points (including four three-pointers) and grabbing six boards in just 20 minutes of action.
9. Dallas Mavericks (2-1)
Think 37-year-old Jason Kidd is done yet?
The 16 year pro is averaging 11.3 points, 11.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game through Dallas’ first three contests.
I think not.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1)
The Thunder were blown out by the Jazz on Sunday, and will face the Clippers in Los Angeles Wednesday evening.
Russell Westbrook has exploded to start the year, averaging 22.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.7 steals.
11. Denver Nuggets (2-1)
Denver appears to have put the Carmelo distractions out of mind for now, and has impressive wins over playoff hopefuls Utah and Houston.
However, it seems to be more of a “when” than an “if” with regards to Anthony being traded this season.
12. Chicago Bulls (2-1)
Think this Derrick Rose guy is a decent player?
Rose almost single-handedly brought the Bulls back to beat the Pistons Saturday night, scoring 39 points while dishing out seven assists and grabbing six boards.
13. Sacramento Kings (3-1)
Paul Westphal’s crew is doing some serious scoring to start the year, averaging 108.8 points per game, good for third in the league.
Rookie of the Year candidate DeMarcus Cousins is off to a very solid start, averaging 14 points and 6.5 rebounds in just 23 minutes per game.
14. Memphis Grizzlies (2-2)
Mike Conley, the fourth overall pick in the ‘07 draft, was just signed to a lucrative five-year, $40 million extension.
He’s gotten off to a hot start, averaging about 15 points and eight assists.
15. Indiana Pacers (2-1)
How ’bout that Roy Hibbert?
The former Hoya is averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks per game.
16. Golden State Warriors (2-1)
G-State enjoyed two high-scoring Ws to start, but was humbled in blowout fashion by the Lakers Sunday night.
Remember Dorell Wright? Yep, that Dorell Wright.
He’s been a pleasant early-season surprise, averaging 19 points per game on 52 percent shooting from the floor.
17. Houston Rockets (0-3)
Luis Scola for MVP?
Houston’s favorite Argentine ranks third in the NBA in both scoring and rebounding early on.
18. Utah Jazz (1-2)
Paul Millsap has done a great Boozer impression so far, going for 21 and 12 through the first three games.
Combine that with Al Jefferson’s 16 and nine, and the Jazz have themselves one of the league’s most formidable frontcourts.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (1-3)
Rough start to the young season for the Bucks, who have dropped two games to teams that didn’t sniff the playoffs last year.
Despite the record, this is still one of the better teams in the East.
20. Phoenix Suns (1-2)
The Suns are still adjusting to life after Amar'e Stoudemire, and are just 25th in the league in rebounds per game.
One of the league’s best rivalries, Spurs vs. Suns, resumes Wednesday night in Phoenix.
21. New Jersey Nets (2-1)
After starting last season with an NBA record 18-straight losses, the Nets started the 2010-11 campaign 2-0.
I wonder if they planned the parade route.
22. New York Knicks (1-2)
Where’s Danilo Gallinari?
Playing through a wrist injury, the former lottery pick is just 5-24 from the field to start the year, including 2-11 behind the arc.
23. Washington Wizards (1-2)
It was the John Wall Show Tuesday night in DC, as the prized rookie led the Wiz to their first win of the season with a 29-point, 13-assist, nine-steal effort.
He did, however, turn the ball over eight times.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (0-3)
Like Milwaukee, the Bobcats have too much talent to be worried about the awful start.
It can’t help matters that three of the best four teams in the East (Miami, Orlando, Atlanta) are all playing in their division, though.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-3)
Despite the loss of Al Jefferson, the Wolves are first in the league in rebounds per game.
So…they have that.
26. Toronto Raptors (1-2)
The Raptors, boasting what appears to be the most devoid-of-talent roster in the entire league, are pretty much who we thought they’d be.
Former first-overall pick Andrea Bargnani is averaging 23.3 points through the first three games, but the seven-footer is also grabbing just three rebounds a night.
Fortunately, Reggie Evans is averaging 16.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-3)
Following an inspired season-opening win against the Celtics, reality appears to have set in for the Cavs, as they’ve gone 0-3 since.
But hey, LeBron hasn’t beaten the Celtics yet.
28. Philadelphia 76ers (0-4)
Following an impressive 16-7-4 statline to open the season against Miami, Evan Turner has struggled, and has scored just 18 points combined in the three games since.
There’s also been an Elton Brand sighting.
He scored 22 points on 9-11 shooting with nine rebounds in the OT loss to Washington Tuesday, and is averaging 16 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks per game through the first four.
29. Los Angeles Clippers (0-4)
The Clips were expecting to be competing for the playoffs, but a fairly tough schedule to start has left them 0-4.
It won’t get much easier for them, as their next five come vs. OKC, at Denver, at Utah, at New Orleans, and at San Antonio.
30. Detroit Pistons (0-4)
At least the Lions are on the right track.
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