Monday, November 3, 2008

Some Random Observations

I haven't had a chance to watch every team play yet, but I've watched quite a few games so far this season, including every Memphis Grizzlies game so far. So here's some random very early-season observations. Some of these may continue to hold throughout the season, others might be early flukes.

  • The Lakers have the best defense in the league, so far. They had some lapses in their last game against the Nuggets, but overall, they've been solid. Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant have been particularly effective.
  • Thaddeus Young (55.6%) and Trevor Ariza (83.3%) have both been hitting their three-pointers. Neither of these guys has ever been a huge threat from that range, but if they are hitting them consistently, then Philadelphia and Los Angeles are going to be even better than expected.
  • For all the talk about Mike Conley and the Grizzlies, the team seems to be better off when Kyle Lowry is at the point. Lowry pushes the pace and allows for easy baskets for finishers like Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick.
  • Speaking of the Grizzlies -- Marc Gasol and Darrell Arthur actually make for a solid starting frontcourt. Gasol in particular is a much better defender than I realized, especially at guarding the pick and roll. Neither of them has a very developed offensive game so far, but playing alongside Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo means that's not a huge concern. Darrell Arthur is an excellent defensive rebounder and a strong finisher on offense, although when he gets the ball in the high post he settles too much for an iffy 15-foot jumpshot. If the team could find better ways to get him the ball in a position to finish at the rim, he might end up as this season's Carl Landry.
  • I haven't watched the Cavs much yet, but I'm excited too now that I've read the recent rumors that, as fans have been asking for for years, the team has been using Lebron James off the ball and in the high and low posts much more this year. Here are two links describing the changes. This might mean that the Cavs are finally not boring to watch, and that is exciting news.
  • Speaking of exciting news: the healthy Joe Johnson of years past is back! And he is completely unguardable. He could very well average 27 points per game, 40% from 3 and 48% overall, along with 4 assists and 5 rebounds. For reals. 
  • Chris Paul looks fantastic as usual, but Mike James, so far, has been . . . not so good. Paul is averaging 38 minutes per game already. He's definitely young enough to handle it, so hopefully it won't be an issue, but the whole team has looked kind of awful when Paul is out. Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz are sporting the 6th best offense in the league despite the fact that Deron Williams has yet to play a game.
  • In case you're into that, on 82games there is a new adjusted plus-minus calculation for the 2007-2008 season. By using additional data from previous seasons, the authors were able to make their estimates much less noisy than before. Does Rashad McCants' place on that list seem a little surprising?

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