The Good, Bad & Ugly: Nov 24-Dec 8 2014
A lot has changed since the last installment of this series. The Cavs are winning again, Kevin Durant is playing basketball, Dwyane Wade is back and the Sixers actually won two games.
- The Golden State Warriors are the league’s best team. They are 17-2 and on a franchise record 12 game winning streak. Their schedule has not been tough in terms of opponents during this stretch but they won seven games on the road including wins in Miami and Chicago.
The Warriors are doing it on both ends of the floor. They are third in both points per game and rebounds. They are seventh in points allowed and first in assists per game.
We already know about Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Both guys are in the top four in three pointers made this season. The Warriors are getting great contributions from Draymond Green, Marreese Speights and Harrison Barnes.
Green is now in the starting lineup averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, shooting and playing very good defense. He scored a career high 31 points while knocking down 7 three pointers against the Bulls on Saturday night.
Speights is the number one scoring option off the bench averaging 12 ppg. He also grabs five rebounds and shoots 53%. Harrison Barnes is starting again and averaging a career high 11 ppg while shooting 43% from three point land.
- Coming off a four game losing streak the Cleveland Cavaliers have won six in a row. They are now 11-7. The winning-streak includes revenge wins against the Knicks, Wizards and Raptors.
The Cavs have been led by both Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. In the six games LeBron has averaged 10 assists per game including double-digit assists in the last three games. He’s still grabbing around five rebounds and scoring 23 points.
Kyrie is learning and finding the balance between passing and scoring. In the last five games Irving is shooting 55% from the field and 43% from three point land. He’s averaging 24 points, four rebounds and almost five assists. He put on a show at Madison Square Garden scoring a season high 37 points on 12-18 shooting.
Their defense has improved and the win in New York was the first time all season the Cavaliers won a game without scoring 100 points. The Raptors average 108.8 points per game and the Cavs held them to 91. They are currently 11th in points per game, points allowed and assists per game.
Kevin Love is still finding his comfort zone but he has had a double-double in the last four games.
- The Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks are playing better basketball. Since being embarrassed by the Grizzlies on the road the Clippers have won seven in a row including a good road win over the Rockets.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have been leading the way. Over the last five games Paul is averaging 15 and 10 assists on 54% shooting. Griffin is averaging 26 and 7 rebounds on 61% shooting.
The Hawks have won six in a row and are currently 3rd in the Eastern Conference. Jeff Teague is playing like an All-Star and Paul Millsap has been playing well.
- Dwight Howard has missed nine games for the Rockets but they are 7-2 in those games. They have won four in a row and still have one of the best defenses in the league. They got quality wins over the Suns and Grizzlies without Dwight.
Kevin Durant has returned to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In his first game of the season he scored 27 points in a lost to the Pelicans. The Thunder won the next game against the Sixers but Durant only had 10 points on 3-11 shooting. Durant looked much better against the Pistons scoring 28 points on 10-19 shooting. It’s great for the NBA that the reigning MVP is back on the court.
- DeMar DeRozan went down with an injury on November 28 against the Mavs. He does not have a timetable for his return but surgery is not being considered. DeRozan has only missed 11 games in his career.
In the four games he has missed this season the Raptors are 2-2. It’s never a good thing when a guy goes down so hopefully DeRozan will be back soon. The Raptors are still atop the Eastern Conference for now.
- The New York Knicks are terrible. With a lost to the Cavaliers they dropped to 4-16 which is their worst 20-game start in team history. The next night they lost to the Hornets on a buzzer-beater and dropped to 4-17.
I already wrote that the New York were secretly tanking. They own their first round draft pick this season and there are some good prospects coming out. The Knicks could use Duke’s Jahlil Okafor to help run the triangle offense.
The Knicks haven’t won a game since November 22nd when they beat the Sixers at home. Since that the Sixers have gone on to win two games.
- DeMarcus Cousins has missed the last five games and the Kings are 1-4 in those games. According to a USA Today report Cousins is recovering from a case of viral meningitis. He will try to resume basketball activities later in the week. Cousins had the Kings at 9-6 and is averaging 23.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg and 1.5 blkpg.
- The Detroit Pistons have lost 12 straight. Their defense is in the middle of the pack but their offense is towards the bottom of the league. They are currently 3-18 and it may be a while before they win another game.
Josh Smith continues to take shots and is now shooting a career low 38% from the field and 48% from the free throw line. He’s averaging 13 ppg his lowest since his second season in the league.
Andre Drummond has not taken that leap that most of us thought he would take. Sure he is averaging 11 and 11 but he’s only shooting 46%. He’s a career 59% shooter. Drummond is inconsistent.
In a lost to the Bucks he went 12-19 for 26 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. The next game he had two points and seven rebounds on 1-8 shooting. In a seven point lost to the Celtics Drummond fouled out but not before having a stat line that included 27 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and four steals on 12-18 shooting. The next game against the Sixers he had seven points and eight rebounds.
Drummond’s production may be due to his lack of minutes. In the overtime game against the Celtics he played 42 minutes and fouled out. Three days the Pistons played another overtime game against the Sixers and Drummond only played 21 minutes and had four fouls.
These pieces do not fit together. Greg Monroe is in and out of the starting lineup but he has been the most consistent player. Brandon Jennings has scored a combined nine points in his last two games. Jennings is shooting 38% from the field.
This team needs to make a trade quickly. Josh Smith cannot play with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Drummond needs to play more than 30 minutes per game.