Weekly NBA Winners: Chauncey Billups MVP candidate in Denver, Brandon Roy’s IQ keeps Portland competitive, Kobe Bryant ‘Facilitating’ Lakers 15-2 record
By including others, ‘Black Mamba’ has silenced his critics. He is the league’s best player on the league’s best team. And, if the Lakers continue their torrid pace, #24 will win his second consecutive MVP. After last season’s loss to Boston in the NBA Finals, I’m guessing Kobe The Facilitator only cares about winning in June …
Every week, HoopsVibe The Blog will review the NBA’s biggest winners and losers of the last seven days …
The Winners …
Winner #3: Chauncey Billups
I heard it. You heard it. Heck, the entire NBA heard the rumour Billups had fallen off his perch as an elite point guard.
Last May, Mr. Big Shot took the blame for his Pistons losing to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. And, as Detroit’s best player, he was deemed expendable and expected to be part of a summer shake-up.
Instead, the shake-up came in early November. Three games into the regular season, Billups was sent to Denver for Allen Iverson. And acquiring a pass-first table-setter has improved team chemistry, which, in turn, has helped the Nuggets post an impressive 13-5 record since making the trade.
On the year, the muscular one-guard is averaging 18 points, and seven assists. Best of all, he has made those around him better. For example, Carmelo Anthony isn’t battling a co-star for shots, posts like Nene and Kenyon Martin are getting open-looks, and J.R. Smith is able to enter to the game and, for better or worse, fire away.
And don’t get me started on the Nuggets’ much-improved defense. Getting stops is finally a priority in the Mile High City. Currently, George Karl’s boys are sitting at third in the Western Conference. I’m not saying Billups is the early season MVP, but he deserves consideration.
Winner #2: Brandon Roy and Portland Blazers
Yesterday, Sam Mitchell got fired. Perhaps, GM Bryan Colangelo should take some heat, too.
For years, the Raptors have desperately needed a co-star, somebody to support Chris Bosh. And three years ago, Toronto, or should I say Colangelo, passed on Brandon Roy and selected Andrew Bargnani first overall as part of his ‘Team Euro’ vision.
The Italian hasn’t found his mark with the Raptors, while Roy is unquestionably the best player on a 14-6 Blazer squad. Bosh and Roy would have made an exceptional inside-outside duo.
Back to ‘Rip City’. Not long ago this was a dysfunctional franchise. Players were getting arrested like a drug-addicted Robert Downey Jr., management was battling the media, and their dedicated fans had become apathetic.
Today, Portland is easily the NBA’s best up-and-coming team. LaMarcus Aldridge dominates the paint, Rudy Fernandez’s energy reminds me of Drazen Petrovic, and Greg Oden will eventually develop.
This Sports Illustrated article is absolutely right: Roy’s feel for the game holds everything together. The former University of Washington star can do it all: pass, shoot, defend, and rebound. And his intelligence will keep the Blazers competitive for some time.
Winner #1: Kobe The Facilitator …
Yes, you read the bolded headline correctly. Kobe Bean, who once treated the triple-post system like an all you can shoot buffet, is deferring to teammates. His collectivist approach is paying off handsomely.
Bryant is averaging 25 points per game; his lowest total since the 2003-04 season. But he no longer needs to average 30 points a contest. The Lakers, with their mix of impressive posts, savvy veterans, and solid reserves, have talent to burn and sit on top of the NBA standings at 15-2.
By including others, ‘Black Mamba’ has silenced his critics. He is the league’s best player on the league’s best team. And, if the Lakers continue their torrid pace, #24 will win his second consecutive MVP.
After last season’s loss to Boston in the NBA Finals, I’m guessing Kobe The Facilitator only cares about winning come June.
Is Billups an MVP candidate? How good is Roy and Portland? Is Kobe The Facilitator the NBA’s best player? Get at HoopsVibe The Blog’s Weekly Winners in the comment box below. Photo courtesy of cj&erson.