The standings are always a little wonky at this point. Some contenders get off to slow starts, some pretenders look like world-beaters.
SH Blog: Emotional Nash out for minimum of two weeks, Gasol calls out D’Antoni’s fluctuating rotation
It has been a tough road for Steve Nash since leaving the Phoenix Suns to join the Los Angeles Lakers last season.
Aside from all the scrutiny his team has faced due to a lack of success with what was supposed to be a championship roster, he has not been the same player he once was since breaking his leg last season.
When he did come back, his impact on the game diminished as he adjusted to playing next to Kobe Bryant without the ball in his hands. This season, however, has been a different story. With Bryant out without a timetable, Nash was supposed to run Mike D’Antoni’s offense and help carry the team. That, unfortunately, has been anything but the case for the point guard, with good reason.
STORY OF THE DAY:
Nash has been a shell of himself this season due to what he believed to be nerve damage from the broken leg he suffered last season. He went to get it checked on Monday, and his suspicions were on the dot. Sam Amick of USA Today has details:
And Dwyane Wade got a pass for an absolutely rockhead play in Miami’s inexplicable loss to Boston on Saturday.
The Heat led by four with less than two seconds to play. On their home floor. Against the Celtics. And lost. In regulation.
And most of it was on Wade, who (a) faltered in the clutch; (b) made his own strategic decision without any input from the coaches; (c) poorly executed his strategy; and (d) opened a door to a loss that had pretty much been closed.
And Wade got a pass. Understandably, from his coach and teammates. But also from the fans and the media.
It’s exactly 10 days into this NBA regular season, it feels like 10 weeks for those who cover the league on a regular basis, and a whole hell of a lot has already happened.
Few things have gone as expected, of course the undefeated start for the Pacers is an exception, and surprises abound across the league. Here are 10 that immediately came to mind, including a pair of dazzling young point guards, one major market team in big trouble and another that’s downright irrelevant right now.
On a night in which 13 games transpired, three players managed to rise above the rest as the stars of the evening: Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and Vitor Faverani of the Boston Celtics.
Davis, Faverani and Griffin may not be the first names to come to mind when it comes to elite statistical production, but each of those rising big men found a way to dominate on Day 4 of the 2013-14 NBA regular season. Here’s what they did and why you need to know about it.
Anthony Davis’ Big Night
Since the 2007-08 regular season, only five players have put together games with at least 25 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. Those players are Andrew Bynum, DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard (six times), Zach Randolph and Amar’e Stoudemire.
On Friday, a new name was added to that list: Anthony Davis.
The No. 1 overall selection from the 2012 NBA draft dominated the Orlando Magic with 26 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked shots in 38 minutes of action. Davis became the 10th player since 2000 to achieve the feat while recording at least eight offensive rebounds.
It’s not a landscape-altering statistic, but it tells you just who the most dominant big men in the NBA have been. Cousins and Davis are the only two players on that list without at least one All-Star Game appearance, and that’s mainly due to the short lengths of their respective careers.
After a year in which the advanced statistics said he should’ve been the Rookie of the Year, Davis is back with a vengeance.
During the 2012-13 NBA regular season, Davis led all first-year players in rebounding, blocks, steals, Player Efficiency Rating, Estimated Wins Added and Value Added. Unfortunately, Davis also battled injuries and played for a team that didn’t generate nearly as much attention as Damian Lillard’s Portland Trail Blazers.
Davis appears to be picking up where he left off and elevating his game to a new level. For the first time in his young career, he has posted 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in back-to-back games.
The hype was warranted.
Entering the 2013-14 regular season, Clippers power forward Blake Griffin was commonly referred to as a player under extraordinary levels of pressure. L.A. has legitimate championship dreams, but until Griffin is able to develop into a more complete player, there will be an undeniable void at Staples Center.
Last night, Griffin responded to the critics by erupting with 20 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and two blocks on 8-of-8 shooting from the free throw line during the Clippers’ 110-101 win at the Sacramento Kings.
This marks the eighth time since the beginning of the 2010-11 regular season—Griffin’s rookie year—that a player has gone off for at least 20 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. The players to achieve that feat are Kevin Durant, Griffin, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook.
Of all of those superstars, Griffin is the only one who has done it twice. Criticize that.
Vitor Faverani for Rookie of the Year?
Vitor Faverani. Before I tell you what you need to know about him, get the Brazilian rookie’s name embedded in your mind, because he’s going to be a force worth recknoning with..
Now that it’s in there, try this: Faverani did something that no Celtics big man has done since 1996.
Faverani was absolutely brilliant on Friday, going off for 12 points, 18 rebounds, one assist, six blocks and one steal. For an organization that has long been built around superstar big men, that’s a stat line that Celtics fans are used to seeing.
Faverani is the first Celtics player since Dino Radja in 1996 to post at least 15 rebounds and five blocks in the same game. That 17-year layoff is surprising due to the historic nature of Boston’s interior players and the unwritten notion that a rim protector wearing Celtics green will one day end up in the Hall of Fame.
It’s only two games in, but Faverani is averaging 12.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks. He could be a Rookie of the Year dark horse.
- In 147 total games under Vinny Del Negro, Chris Paul posted at least 25 points and 10 assists in five outings. In three games under head coach Doc Rivers, CP3 has done it twice. Paul went off for 26 points and 10 assists just one night after his legendary 42, 15 and 6 performance.
- DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors scored 31 points during a loss to the Atlanta Hawks. DeRozan topped 30 in two of his final three games in 2012-13, as well.
- Kevin Durant scored 13 points in 27 minutes. That’s Durant’s lowest scoring total in a game in which he played at least 27 minutes since Dec. 19, 2009.
- Zaza Pachulia of the Milwaukee Bucks scored 20 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and 10-of-10 from the free throw line. It’s the first time he’s scored 20 since April 10, 2007.
- Tristan Thompson scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Cleveland Cavaliers. No. 1 overall draft choice Anthony Bennett was held scoreless in 13 minutes. It looks like Thompson doesn’t want to let go of his starting job.
- Gordon Hayward deserves his praise after putting up 18 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal during the Utah Jazz’s 87-84 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Maxwell Ogden is a regular contributor for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.