Working at Dime Magazine, a ton of headlines, news and opinions pass through our website each week. Everyday a new story breaks and we change our focus to the next game on the schedule. Before this week gets started, I’ll take the time to reflect on what the NBA taught me last week.
What is Eating Gilbert Grape (Arenas)
A new year represents new beginnings and there are few players in the NBA that need a new beginning more than Gilbert Arenas. Coming into the 2009-2010 season it was widely believed that the Wizards would return to being a fixture in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Arenas was suppose to return to Hibachi form and the new additions gave the Wizards the depth needed to make them contenders. Instead the Wizards are dwelling in Eastern Conference basement and are riding a 4 game losing streak. Their 111 million dollar man hasn’t lived up to his expectations or his contract. Arenas has publicly feuded with his fellow All Star teammate and hasn’t been afraid share his view on the team. Gilbert’s year didn’t start off on a great. Right before the new year it was reported that Agent Zero took his secret agent moniker too seriously and kept guns in his locker. Arenas said he kept the guns in Verizon Center to keep them away from his daughter. Things became worse when the NY Post reported that Arenas pulled his gun on fellow Wizard, Javaris Crittenton. The details of the story are sketchy to say the least, but regardless of whether Arenas pulled the gun out maliciously or in a joking manner, the situation has created a PR nightmare for the team formally known as the Bullets. Whether or not the authorities take action against Gilbert, we all know that David Stern will drop the hammer on this one.
If I go Crazy Would You Still Call Me Superman?
Every era in the NBA has a dominate center. There was Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaq and Tim Duncan. Each center dominated the game and led his team to championships. As Shaq’s and Duncan’s careers begin to come to a close everyone turned to Dwight Howard to carry the center load. Last year Dwight Howard led his team to an Eastern Conference championship and with the some offensive refinement it seemed that Superman would become the dominate center the era needs. Instead, Dwight has battled with the referees over non calls, has been abused and is visibly frustrated on the court. This week Howard was far from the dominate center we all want to see. He put up two Erick Dampier esque stat lines, posting two back to back 9 point games and averaging 13.5 rebounds for those contests. (Can you say underachiever of the week?) Dwight has struggled at times this year, partly because of his new teammates, partly because defenses have clamped down on him. It seems like until Dwight Howard develops his offensive game, teams will continue to find a way to lock down number 12 and he won’t become a all time great center.
A Philadelphia Story
Last year the Sixers were the team that everyone thought would be on the rise. They ended last season with a strong run that brought them to the playoffs. During the playoffs the Sixers took the Eastern Conference champions to 6 games. Entering the 2009 off season it looked like the Sixers would build off of their playoff experience and use a healthy Elton Brand to contend in the East. The Sixers let Andre Miller walk and brought in Eddie Jordan and his Princeton offense to the city of Brotherly Love. Their season has been a train wreck so far. They are currently 10 and 23 (good for 14th in the east) and look completely lost in the new offense. The Sixers went for a quick fix by bringing in their former franchise player, but that only help with ticket sales for one game. Now the rumor is the 76ers are going for Tracy McGrady. The 76ers are destined to be over the luxury tax next year due to a few questionable contracts and are far from contending. T-Mac’s massive expiring contract would offer the Sixers some finiacial relief and it would prevent Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady from both being All Stars. The Rockets want Andre Iguodala and the Sixers want the Rockets to take Samuel Dalembert or Elton Brand. Houston isn’t eager to rescue Philadelphia from Brand or Dalembert (even with Iggy), so the Sixers will be stuck over the luxury tax line and in the Eastern Conference basement unless they can find a taker.
Knicks Family Robinson
The Knicks are still that dysfunctional family you just have to watch. Mike D’Antoni brought his entertaining brand of basketball to Gotham City and with that his inconsistent rotation. No one understood that more than Nate Robinson. Krypto-Nate played in one game during the month of December but never pouted and looked like the ultimate teammate on the bench. This week started with Nate getting a 25k fine from the league office for demanding a trade. Funny part is Nate never once demanded a trade, his agent publicly expressed that he wanted to get his client some place where he would play. A few days after losing 25k, Robinson finally had his number called off the bench. What happened? Nate exploded for 41 points and 8 assists. It wasn’t necessarily shocking that he scored 41 points but D’Antoni surprised everyone by playing Robinson. Has Nate Robinson reentered D’Antoni’s rotation or are the Knicks showing Nate off for a potential trade? You never know what D’Antoni is thinking but at least Nate was finally able to to get back on the court.
Player of the Week
Remember last playoffs when Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose gave us a glimpse of the future of the Eastern Conference? Remember when Derrick Rose looked a step slower and wasn’t the player he was against the Celtics? Well Derrick Rose is fully healthy and is once again proving his can carry the Bulls franchise. The Bulls are on a 4 game winning streak and it is due to Rose’s strong play. During his 3 games this week, Rose has posted 26.7 ppg, 6 apg and 5 rpg earning him the Player of the Week Award.
Overachiever of the Week
Luther Head was a star on a NCAA Final Four team but hasn’t had the same success in the NBA, averaging 8.3 ppg and 1.7 apg over his career. Twice this week Luther Head showed flashes of the player who was a star at Illinois. Against Memphis, Head dropped 30 points in a losing effort. The next game , against Minnesota, Head led the Pacers with 21 points and 6 assists in the win.
For his flashes of greatness this week, Luther Head earned the Overachiever of the Week Award.
Dunk of the Week
There were a handful of candidates this week for dunk of the week. Ryan Hollins’ dunk on Andray Blatche was nice, but Blatche went for the charge. Kobe tried to earn the award and was rejected twice, once by Robin Lopez and once by Ronny Turiaf. The winner of Dunk of the week for this week is Delonte West. He went head to head with one of the league’s premier shot blockers (Josh Smith) and still managed to throw it down. Smith wasn’t embarrassed like some of our victims in the past (Anderson Varejo) but West put in work nonetheless.
What did the NBA teach you last week?
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