Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Most impressive in hanging around .500 (or better): Indy without Granger, Philly without Bynum, Chicago without Rose or Golden State without Bogut?
Steve Aschburner: I’m going with D, Golden State. Indiana still had a strong starting lineup and a serviceable bench, and Paul George‘s game really is clicking now. Without Andrew Bynum, the 76ers could continue to play much as they had before — the big issue was going to be how they fit a dominant big man into a system that previously had none. Chicago still has Tom Thibodeau‘s defense and Joakim Noah playing the best ball of his career. But the Warriors? With nothing tangible, thanks to Andrew Bogut‘s absence, to show for the Monta Ellis trade? Never saw this coming and, frankly, still haven’t moved it out of fluke category. But an infusion of young help and Mark Jackson‘s messages about work and defense are paying off.
Fran Blinebury: A 6-1 Eastern road trip, best in 40 years. Stephen Curry filling it up, David Lee the double-double machine, everybody buying into Mark Jackson‘s defense, sniffing at a top four seed and home-court advantage. And by the way, they’re way above .500. It’s the Warriors by a mile.
Jeff Caplan: At 14-10 give me the Bulls because they’re also adjusting to life without three key role players let go in the offseason due to CBA constraints. It will take time for Derrick Rose to get back in a groove, both with his own game and with teammates, but those teammates are putting him in a great spot to return where he won’t have to save the season.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Golden State without Andrew Bogut. While I would say the Warriors have the depth to better absorb the hit compared to the Pacers losing [Danny] Granger, Golden State has already had a couple tough road stretches. They just finished a seven-game trip and not long before that had four of five away from home with the five games in eight days. Plus, they have had the back-and-forth the Pacers and Bulls were able to avoid. Bogut is about to play, Bogut plays, Bogut is out, Bogut is about to practice again, Bogut is out for a long time. That’s an extra challenge.
John Schuhmann: This question is not a fair fight. It’s the Warriors by a country mile. They’re 17-8, having played one of the league’s toughest schedule thus far, and no team has improved more defensively from last season. That might not have been a big surprise if Andrew Bogut was playing, because he’s one of the best defensive centers in the league. But that they’ve done it with him playing a grand total of 72 minutes is pretty amazing and a credit to Mark Jackson. The biggest key has been rebounding. They were the worst defensive rebounding team in the league last season. This year, they’re the best.
Sekou Smith: Hands down, Chicago without Derrick Rose. No disrespect to Danny Granger and Andrew Bogut, fine players in their own right (when healthy). But they don’t live in the same superstar realm Rose does. Andrew Bynum has always had the potential to reside there but has only been a renter throughout his career. To lose a player of Rose’s caliber and still be at the top of the division and the thick of things in the playoff chase speaks volumes about the job Tom Thibodeau has done and continues to do with that team and perhaps even more about the resolve of Rose’s supporting cast. Joakim Noah is playing like an All-Star and has served as the emotional leader this group needed during an extended stretch without Rose. How could you not be impressed with what the Bulls have done?