NBA 5 on Five
By Paul Benedict
-Unfortunately Diaw isn’t available at all these positions, but he has played each for the Suns at some point this season. If your team is in need of a jack-of-all-trades type, Diaw fits the bill to a tee (10.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 7.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.5 BPG over his last 4). Look for the steals to go up and Diaw to be off your local waiver wire very soon. Act now.
-If Duhon is available in your league, then nobody’s paying close enough attention. Look a little closer at his early season numbers (11.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 7.5 APG, 1.8 SPG in 38.3 MPG)– see that last statisitic? That’s a key one. Scott Skiles absolutely loves Duhon and has been playing him huge minutes despite a bruised knee and heel contusion which have slowed him down after kicking the season off with a trip-doub. He may not win you the league, but as long as he’s out there 35+ minutes a game, a steady Duhon with an improving shot should be able to average around 12 PPG, 3 RPG, 6 APG and 1.5 SPG.
3. Jose Calderon, PG Toronto
-This unheralded rookie from Spain has been the lone bright spot for the Raptors in an otherwise humiliating start to the season. It seemed that Sam Mitchell was going to play Calderon as mainly a back-up to Mike James at least through the early stages of the season, but Calderon has been so impressive that he’s been hard to keep off the floor. Through 6 games he’s now averaging 28.3 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 7.2 APG and has turned the ball over just 10 times.If you’re looking for assists with few turnovers and some serious upside, introduce your team to Calderon.
4. Nick Collison, PF Seattle
-Yes, I do realize Collison put up that 20 and 12 in an overtime game against the Raptors. No, I don’t think it was just a fluke. Does anyone else remember how awesome this guy was during the Playoffs last year? I figured it was only a matter of time before he cracked the starting lineup like he did Sunday. He’ll stay there for good and get you 12-8 and close to a steal and a block per game too.
5. Ike Diogu, PF Golden State
-Mike Montgomery went small ball last night against Phoenix with Adonal Foyle playing only 2 minutes. With Mike Dunleavy flat out sucking thus far, I fully expect Diogu to steal minutes from both Foyle and Dunuthin upon his return. He’s probably not going to help you in the hustle categories, but I think he’s fully capable of posting 14 and 8 once he’s ready to play around 30 minutes. Just be patient as Ike might not be back on the court and 100% for another month.
5 Fascinating Factoids
1. Chicago’s reserves have outscored their opponents in every single game this season. This kind of makes you wonder why Scott Skiles doesn’t just start Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, and Michael Sweetney. But hey, if the shit ain’t broken, don’t try and fix it.
4. Exactly a month ago in my "Fast Breaking it Down" column I picked out 5 guys that could potentially have sleeper-like seasons with their contracts up at the end of the season. It doesn’t exactly look like any of the guys has woken up and realized their situation just yet. Take a look…
- 2004-05: 24.6 MPG, 7.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 1.3 BPG
- 2005-06: 16.3 MPG, 6.3 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG
- 2004-05: 19.6 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.9 BPG
- 2005-06: 23.3 MPG, 7.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG
- 2004-05: 21.6 MPG, 10.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 SPG
- 2005-06: 33.0 MPG, 12.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG
- 2004-05: 7.5 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.2 BPG
- 2005-06: 7.6 MPG, 1.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.6 BPG
- 2004-05: 28.6 MPG, 9.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.9 BPG
- 2005-06: 26.1 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.9 BPG
5 Fretful Thoughts
1. So I hear Isiah Thomas is reportedly trying to move Jerome James at the crack of midnight on December the 15th. What the hell is Zeke smoking these days anyways? Nobody wanted James this summer and Isiah signed him to a proposterous 5 year, $30 million deal. Now he thinks there’s actually someone out there willing to take on this blimp? Not even Rob Babcock is that dumb.
2. Wasn’t Yao supposed to come into the season in better shape this year after getting some summer relaxation for the first time in a zillion years or however long it was? Did anyone see Yao Sunday evening in Boston. Barely three minutes into the first quarter and he was wheezing his way up and down the court. Mark Blount and Raef LaFrentz single-handedly won the game (how many times have you ever that before?) in the first half because they forced Yao to step away from the paint to guard them from the outside– something he was unable to do because he was so out of breathe from running up and down the court. Of course not everyone can nail 7 3-pointers in the first half like Raef did, but I think the Rockets were totally exposed in Sunday’s loss. Just run that team up and down the court and bring in a big shooter that forces Yao to move around.
4. Is it a little too early to be worried about Miami having to chase Washington for much of the season in the Southeast Division? Yes. Miami will be fine without Shaq for the next of couple weeks with an insanely easy schedule (Rest of November: vs NO/OKC, vs PHI, at TOR, vs POR, vs DAL, at ORL, vs NYK, at ATL) before hopefully getting Shaq back for a tough West Coast stretch to kick off December. My concern is with the Wiz, who have enjoyed stellar wins over the likes of Toronto, New York, Orlando, Seattle, and a San Antonio team coming off the always dreaded Friday-Saturday back-to-back (you really think even a Popovich-coached team doesn’t go out on the road after a Friday night win? Please.). Is Washington ready to hit the road for 6 of its next 7 against the likes of Cleveland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Detroit. I think they’ll be happy to grab 3 of these 7 and hold onto second place.
5 Fascinating Match-Ups
1. Chicago at Golden State, Monday at 10:30 ET on NBA TV
-These two teams clashed in a brutal battle on Wednesday with the Bulls coming away with a controversial win in the waning seconds after Jason Richardson’s last second shot was (or was not) blocked by Tyson Chandler. Both Mike Montgomery and Jason Richardson drew hefty fines for "verbally abusing" the officials directly afterwards. I suspect there will be some angst working in the Warriors favor come Monday.
2. Houston at San Antonio, Thursday at 9:30 ET on TNT
-The Rockets split with the Spurs last season (including the legendary T-Mac ’13 in 35′ comeback win) and are going to have to come up with a fine showing Thursday night on national television if they want people to honestly believe the Spurs have any competition out West. Who am I kidding? It’s November and this game means nothing. It still should be pretty dope though with my boys Harlan and Collins calling the action.
3. LA Clippers at LA Lakers, Friday at 10:30 ET
-The so-called JV Team will wear the darks with the Varsity squad rocking the goldies in the first of four meetings this season . When’s the last time these rivals met with first place on the line? Could happen if both take care of business beforehand.
4. Phoenix at San Antonio, Saturday at 8:30 ET on NBA TV
-A rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals featuring an undefeated road team in the Suns traveling to San Antonio to take on an unbeaten home team in the Spurs. I’m most interested in seeing whether Tony Parker, who’s been outstanding so far, can actually even remotely contain Steve Nash this time around.
5. Detroit at Dallas, Saturday at 8:30 ET
– The Pistons take the Texas two-step on Friday and Saturday with a date at the Toyota Center first, followed by a healthy dose of the Mavericks the night after. Yikes. If they come out of the weekend still undefeated, everybody in the East better start running.
5 Fearless Forecasts
1. Through the first two weeks of the season, one man stands tall as the league leader in rebounds and blocks, and his name is not Ben Wallace for once. Marcus Camby has been superb thus far for a Nuggets team that hasn’t quite gotten their season going just yet, posting 14.1 RPG and 3.7 BPG. With Nene sidelined for the season and Kenyon Martin still not up to 100% after knee surgery during the offseason, the onus of carrying the frontcourt is entirely on Camby’s shoulders. I’m not going to go crazy and predict that Camby will play 82 games and win Defensive Player of the Year, but I will say this– Marcus Camby will be the NBA leader in rebounding if he plays in enough games by the end of the year.
4. It’s still somewhat shocking to me that Latrell Sprewell hasn’t found a team. We all know about his attitude and contract demands, but you would think that there are a number of teams willing to look past all that to bring in an experienced, energetic 2-guard into the fray like Spree. Maybe some GMs are so caught up in the TO biz that they won’t dare to the roll the dice on Sprewell, I don’t know. Here’s my forecast: Latrell Sprewell will ultimately sign with the Denver Nuggets, but not until he reduces his unbelievale contract demands. The Nuggets are still hurting at the two (DerMarr Johnson played great last night, but I’m not sure that can last) and have flirted with Spree recently, but put off signing him until he was willing to accept a deal that fit into their flexibility. Denver might also be the one team where Spree’s personality doesn’t exactly stand out, and where his experience could be a real asset.
5. Is this finally the year when more than one Piston is named to the All-Star team? I find it hard to believe that neither Richard Hamilton nor Chauncey Billups has ever been invited to All-Star Weekend, but I think this is going to be the year. And since you just can’t take one backcourt mate without the other, I’m going to predict that Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamtilon will finally make the All-Star Team this season. This might hurt Ben and Rasheed Wallace’s chances a bit, but given the lack of big men in the East, I’m guessing at least one of them gets in as well (most likely Big Ben). Tayshaun Prince will eventually make the roster, but he’s going to have to wait at least another year.