It’s always a little sad when someone goes overboard with the whole “new year, new me” routine.
You know what I’m talking about. Your portly friend will talk with conviction about how this is the year when he hits the gym, loses some weight and gets himself in better shape.
You nod your head and encourage him. You’re rooting for him, but you know that while he may lay off the Ring Dings for a couple of weeks, he’ll be mowing down an entire row again come February. God save Hostess.
Here at SheridanHoops.com, we’re about lasting improvement. In the NBA, if you wait until the new year to improve yourself, you’ll be doing so in the D-League. Unless you’re Pau Gasol.
That’s why you’ve got to give it up for the guys on this list. They made their new year’s resolutions in October. They’ve been putting in the study hours, taking extra jumpers at 4 a.m., and staying away from the Kardashians.
They’re even laying off the Twinkies, in perhaps their last year of existence on this planet. (For the love of God, someone please save Hostess!)
Take Jrue Holiday. He’s always been a good player, a starting point guard on a playoff team.
But this year, he’s been a revelation. He’s averaging 18.6 points and 8.9 assists. He has taken over the Sixers’ offense, and made Philly fans forget about Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams. If his career were an episode of “Lost”, this season would be the part that actually makes sense.
The Warriors are dramatically improved, and so is their star guard Stephen Curry, who has made the transition from nice player on a bad team to go-to-guy on a playoff contender. Coach Mark Jackson challenged him to bring his game to the next level, and he has responded by putting up 20 points and 6.5 assists and worming his way into the All-Star conversation.
Then there are the Rockets, who aren’t so much improved as they are way better than anyone thought they would be. Seriously, did anyone think that Houston would be 17-14 at this point in the season, even with the addition of James Harden? Their success has been thanks in large part to Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons, two guys who combined to average 12 points per game last season.
Finally, there is one man who waited until New Year’s Eve to make his mark on the league. Nikola Vucevic scored 20 points and grabbed an Orlando Magic-record 29 rebounds in Monday night’s overtime loss to the Heat. He’s now averaging a double-double for the season (10.8 points, 10.5 rebounds). The lesson there? If you’re going to wait until the new year to make an impact, make it big.
Either that, or change your name to Nikola Vucevic. It just sounds more impressive.
On to the rankings.