It’s Never Too Soon For Snap Judgment

 

Never mind that the playoffs won’t begin for nearly six months. It’s never too soon to leap to conclusions about what we know — or think we know — one week into the 2012-13 regular season.

Knicks: Just when it became fashionable to trade in those blue and orange jerseys for the black and white of Brooklyn, the Knicks roll out their best start in team history, not only going 3-0, but also winning every game by at least 16 points. Nobody’s breaking out the countdown charts until Carmelo Anthony and his buddies run down the historic 72-10 record of the Bulls. But as long as the Knicks keep sharing the ball and the likes of Ronnie Brewer, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni give big man Tyson Chandler help with their defense on the perimeter, they’re for real. At least until Amar’e Stoudemire comes back to mess with the chemistry. Suddenly the Eastern Conference is about more than sniping between the Heat and Celtics. We all know the real bad blood is N.Y. vs. Miami with Jeff Van Gundy hanging onto Alonzo Mourning’s ankle.

Lakers: The NBA’s combination of longest-running soap opera/situation comedy of the past two decades has always been the ride on the day-to-day roller coaster of the Lakers. It’s part of the DNA of Angelenos to panic anytime their team loses two in a row and this season an 0-3 start hit the hysterical jackpot. Yes, Mike Brown will be under more microscopes than a newly discovered germ at the CDC and, yes, it will matter that soon-to-be-39-year-old Steve Nash is ambulatory for the postseason and it would help if their bench wasn’t paper thin. Still every team in the West outside of the Thunder and Spurs would trade its roster for a confused Dwight Howard and an aging Kobe Bryant. They’re not dead yet, but their breathing is labored.

James Harden: Look, LeBron James already has a shelf full of MVP trophies and is concentrating on chasing down Michael Jordan for his six championships. So wouldn’t it be simpler to just acknowledge right now that The Beard is unstoppable. It was never a secret that Harden was talented and explosive. But popping in 37 and 45 in his first two games with the Rockets and leading the league in scoring at 35.3 has been like scrapping the velvet off a painting of dogs playing poker and to find a Rembrandt hiding underneath.

Thunder: Hadn’t everyone maybe been asking the wrong question about whether Harden could thrive in an environment where he wasn’t getting help and cover from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook? Without Harden making up for a myriad of mistakes and handling the ball in crunch time in OKC, it’s the Thunder’s bad chemistry that might threaten to blow up the lab. The absence of Harden seems to be bringing out the worst of Westbrook’s habits again. They’re barking at each other on the floor, snapping in huddles and hardly looking like the happy bunch of kids that was supposed to be climbing the gym set ladders to multiple championships less than five months ago.

Damian Lillard/Anthony Davis: The hype machine rolled in from the Las Vegas Summer League and said the rookie point guard from Weber State would blow right past No. 1 pick Anthony Davis for Rookie of the Year. There has been little to dislike about Lillard, who knows where he wants to be on the floor and gets there. He sets up his teammates. He fearlessly makes shots. He is everything that the rebuilding — again — Trail Blazers need. But when you watch Davis rebound, defend and knock down shots from that Tim Duncan mid-range area, you have to acknowledge that it’s only a concussion that’s stopped him so far. By the end of the season, Lillard will be nipping at his heels, but Davis will still be the choice cut here.

Spurs: The best one-liner of the young season to date came from Tony Parker when he was asked by veteran reporter Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News if he was surprised that the Spurs had never before opened a season 4-0 in their 40-year history. Parker: “Were you here for all 40 years?” When the laughing stopped, it was time to remember that as long as coach Gregg Popovich astutely manages the minutes of his Big Three again, the ageless Spurs will win 50 games for an amazing 16 years in a row and be a favorite to get back to the Western Conference finals. The 36-year-old Duncan looks positively spritely — ask Durant — averaging 19.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots in 31.5 minutes per game.

Clippers: With the Lakers struggling, the door is wide open for the little brothers of Staples Center. But they’re going to have to get serious about coming to play at the start of games and actually look like they give a hoot. Blake Griffin has appeared uncomfortable, confused much of the time. While Jamal Crawford delivers, veteran pickups Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes add nothing. Dropped their last two at home to non-contenders Golden State and Cleveland. This evidently is why they will always be the little brothers.

Kyrie Irving: While there’s been so much attention on this year’s race, the 2012 Rookie of the Year has lost none of the sparkle off his game. Irving’s numbers — 23.8 points, 6.0 assists per game — have been transcendent. If Dion Waiters can continue to produce at his early rate, it might not be long before the Cavs twosome forces their way into conversations about the top backcourts in the league.

Heat: Save the best for last. That post-hurricane blackout in N.Y. notwithstanding, this is all still a race where everybody else is chasing the defending champs. Now that LeBron James has made his breakthrough for his first championship, it’s almost like we’re watching a different player, someone who had been held underwater for so long and finally came up for air. Now the Heat appear intent on going back-to-back, knowing it is the real measure of greatness in today’s league. The additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis create matchup problems and decisions for opposing defenses that are simply cruel. If there is one thing we know for sure after just one week it’s that its still all about Miami.

16 Comments

  1. SUPERMAN!!! says:

    I wonder what would happen if Dwight join Rose!!

  2. jeffrey says:

    It is not the players. its the COACH.. what happen to Mike Brown?? he have full of talented players, badly Lakers dont have a talented COACH like Phil jack, i bet more on Jerry Sloan if he will be chosen as new head coach of Lakers. Nash – Howard to Stockton – Malone. Go LAKERS! Go KNICKS!

  3. mohamed says:

    This year is gonna be soo much fun and if the LAKERS can get a deep bench, i think we can make a big run thru the PLAYOFFS. and by the way dont sleep on my TIMBERWOLVES, they’re definately a contender…

    • dattebayo says:

      This seasons salary cap is at 58 million USD, the Lakers pay their starters a combined 75 million USD. The Lakers won’t improve this years bench because they can’t pay better players. And please, isn’t Gasol, Nash, Howard and Bryant enough?

  4. mohamed says:

    this year is gonna be soo much funn and i think if the LAKERS can get a deep bench we could make a big run thru the PLAYOFFS.

  5. Macubexx says:

    heat fan here.. and obviously the last sentence of the article above makes everything so good… If there is one thing we know for sure after just one week it’s that its still all about Miami. 2012 – 2013 season will be very fun to watch!!

  6. Kingk says:

    Would like to see how the knicks turn out. The east has become stronger, and i would like to see how the heat react. GO HEAT!

  7. The Watcher says:

    First off, I’m a Heat fan. For the first few games so far, NY has played well and it’s possible they will for an unforeseen period of time, but talking about topping 72-10 record? That’s just way over board.So they can have their fun while it lasts.Wait for Miami Defence to kick in and you will see a totally diferent ball game when these 2 teams meet again. Heatles, lets go!!!!

  8. Go Spurs! says:

    I think Melo is playing totally different bball, i the experience of playing with US team was really good for him. Now let’s see if Amare can adopt and there will be very candidate for Eastern conference!

  9. HeatKingsofEast says:

    the knicks are playing ball. if this keeps up and nyk end up in 1st 2nd or 3rd spot in the east, carmelo could be a potential mvp candidate. but i think in terms of efficiency and stats(pts, rbs, asts, fg%) lebron still has the edge to take the mvp.

  10. AK says:

    @Real basketball fan

    I think you’re a joke if thats what you really think. Attack the way Steve Nash looks has no merit on a discussion regarding the (inevitable) success of the lakers. However I do agree that DH will not resign if they don’t start playing the way they have been expected to and/or make it to the Western conf. finals.

    @Steppx

    I agree that the knicks are not going to continue this streak and to even mention a potential of matching the bulls’ 72-10 record is ridiculous, however if you had been watching the games, you would see a Carmelo Anthony who is buying in to Mike Woodson’s defense. Its team defense, not tyson chandler defense

  11. Real basketball fan says:

    The lakers are a joke of a team. Steve Nash is old, his hair after he left phx looks stupid. Dwight howard is not going to sign with the fakers. Both of those players look super out of place in a lakers jersey. I hope LA fails so hard this year.

    GO Miami, NY, Portland, New Orleans, OKC!!!!

  12. steppx says:

    Knicks NOt going to continue this streak. Not even close. I mean so far, they played well, but have been saved by Chandler, again and again on defense. I often feel journalists arent watching these games. Its not melo’s defense for heavens sake, its Chandler. Anyway, prigioni cant defend at all, Felton barely, Kidd worse than either. They are old, and I dont see this continuing past the easy games against a catastrophically bad sixers team.

    • beermelons says:

      You apparently watch these games with your eyes closed, or under the influence. In fact, the whole team has bought in to Woodson’s insistence on defense, Both Kidd and Prigioni have terrorized opponents with steals, and both are above average all around defenders. Melo has been excellent on defense, as well as far more than adequate on the boards. Belittling Philly is a poor attempt to knockk the Knicks, who themselves havent had Amare, Shumpert, Camby. I agree that they will not blow out their opponents every night, and they will have occasional stinkers as all teams do. However, they now have excellent pg play after having NONE for all but 25 games last year, they are absolutely for real on defense, and they have a lot of guys who have always played the game the right way. You;re going to look awfully foolish by the time this season ends.

      • K.I.N.G says:

        Ill give it to you that they are playing really well…watch out for when Amare comes back and I dont mean that in a good way.
        Constantly we have seen that those two dont play well together but for the Knicks sake I hope they do.

        But the underlying thing is the Knicks have this tendency to CHOKE in playoffs.
        I Know They can Beat MIA and will probably loose to BOS in 7 to be honest. Heck I even think the Pacer will chew them up in 7.

        Unless Melo becomes their LeBron and raises the team to a whole new level and that means more than just scoring unless he avg an efficent 35 pts per game but lets face it Melo you aint MJ.

        He has improved defensively but he’s still got a ways to go. Kudos to Melo for getting in better shape but He needs to still work out more and become a beast like LeBron he has to be more imposing.

        NYK second round exit if they are in the top 4 seeds
        If not first round again… I honestly want them to good I like Melo…but its reality

      • K.I.N.G says:

        the cant beat MIA***** lol