What a week for the Boston Celtics. After losing their first game of the week to the Grizzlies (a game they led much of the way), the Celtics ripped off wins against the Jazz, Magic and then finally, the Heat. They finished 3-1 on the week - boosting their record to 3-4 on the season.
Now, that little streak has several ramifications. #1. Boston is currently the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference, just 1 game behind the Atlantic Division leading Philadelphia 76ers. Oh what a difference a week can make when you're a whopping two weeks into the season. And #2. The Celtics have not only lost their early pole position in the lottery - they're currently not even in the lottery!
So obviously this impacts Wiggins Watch in a major way. We started the Watch last week and the Cs were sitting pretty in the top 3. Now, they're out. But we press on. Because the season is long and winding, and while Boston may very well be on their way to shocking the world, the 2014 draft class ain't going anywhere. In fact, check out what the crown jewels of the draft have done in their first week at school.
Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: 1 game, 16 points, 3 rebs, 3 steals, 2 assists, 5-9 FG
Jabari Parker, Duke: 1 game, 22 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 8-10 FG, 3-3 3 PT FG (in 23 minutes)
Julius Randle, Kentucky: 2 games, 22.5 PPG, 14.5 RPG, 2 APG, 63% FG
Julius Randle coming in hot!
So who's in control of their lottery destiny after two weeks? Let's take a look.
The Top 3:
1. Jazz, 0-7
2. Kings, 1-5
3. Nuggets, 1-4
My lord are the Utah Jazz terrible. They've successfully found three building blocks in Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, and then surrounded those three with a supporting cast that only a mother could love. Jamaal Tinsley and Richard Jefferson starting? Sick combo in 2003. Ian Clark and Mike Harris getting crunch time minutes against the Celtics? Are those real players? They sound like random names that a video game generates for fake impending draft classes. Bottom line is Utah is all in on tanking. They are being outscored by 13 PPG and show no signs of slowing down. All hail the leaders in the clubhouse.
SacTown and Denver are not nearly on the same level as Utah, but both are off to hideous starts. The Kings are 1-5 and have lost five straight after an opening night win against the Nuggets, while Denver is just 1-4 under new coach Brian Shaw. The Nuggets also lost JaVale McGee to a broken leg over the weekend. I still think Denver has too much talent to be near the bottom of the lottery all season, but their playoff hopes are weakening with improved teams like Minnesota, Portland and New Orleans out West.
Of course, it's wayyyyyyyy too early to be locked in on only a few teams. There are still a bunch of other teams that were expected to be bad that are currently out of the basement. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be keeping an eye on them.
Expected Wiggins Contenders:
76ers - Philly is only 1-3 since their 3-0 start, and have played only two of their seven games on the road. The Sixers are in great shape to go over the putrid 17.5 win total Vegas predicted for them, but this is still a young, thin team that won't be in the playoff mix for much longer. We haven't heard the last of the Sixers in this thing.
Magic - I stand by my claims that Orlando is a better team than people give them credit for, but their loss to the Celtics at home leaves them at 3-4 early on. Orlando's biggest problem when it comes to being awful is their depth, unlike many of the teams down here the Magic go deeper than 2-3 quality players.
Celtics - Celtics with Avery Bradley as starting point guard: 0-4. Celtics with Jordan Crawford at PG: 3-0. That means J-Craw has a better career starting point guard winning percentage than Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Oscar Robertson and Chris Paul. Greatest PG ever. Or maybe not. But either way, with Bradley shifting to SG, Gerald Wallace energizing the bench and Jeff Green hitting absurd game winners - the Cs are suddenly fun to watch. Which isn't good for their lottery chances, but let's keep in mind, it's a long season. The 2006-07 Celtics were 10-13 after 23 games, a better winning percentage than this team currently has, and far deeper into the season. Their record the rest of the way? 14-45. Doesn't mean this team will be that bad going forward, just that with 75 games left there are many different directions this season could go.
Bobcats - The good news? Charlotte is 3-3. The bad news? They've only topped 92 points in one game this season, they are shooting 41.7% from the floor, Big Al is already banged up and their coach already had a heart attack. Also, MJ still runs the team. Call me crazy but I'm not boarding the Bobcats express just yet.
Suns - I'm getting closer to crossing the 5-2 Suns off this list. Eric Bledsoe is a monster, and Phoenix getting him for Jared Dudley and a 2nd round pick was a heist of epic proportions. In a loaded West I'd still be surprised to see the Suns stick around all year, but I also am finding it harder and harder to imagine them matching the Jazz loss for loss.
Others to Keep an Eye on:
Wizards - Washington is only 2-4, but I still like this roster a lot better than some of the teams in the East currently with a better record. Bradley Beal is averaging 21 PPG and shooting 48% from three - and he just turned 20. John Wall is also putting up huge numbers, and Washington was a 1 point loss in overtime to OKC away from a 3-0 record last week. But we'll put them on here because they are the Wizards..and it's hard to fully buy in on the Wizards.
Lakers - 3-5 with a bunch of old guys on the roster, and it took an epic choke job by Dwight Howard last week (5-12 FT, not covering Steve Blake on the last shot) for them to avoid being 2-6. Sure, Kobe is coming back soon, but how good will a 35 year old in his 18th season be coming off of achilles surgery? I expect him to be good for sure, but the same guy we've seen over the past decade and a half? I'm doubtful.
Knicks - Thought this team had a terrible off-season before the season started, nothing has changed my mind. In a horrible East they're still contenders to make the playoffs, but their window of being championship contenders closed before it ever opened. If Melo leaves this summer they'll be back to Isiah levels of awfulness (with a lack of first round picks as well). KnicksTape!
Nets - I mean, I expect this team to make a run eventually. But KG looks ancient. Like he's 37 going on 92. Both the Nets and Knicks are 2-4, but I still think both teams have too much talent to miss the playoffs. With that said, the Nets need their old guys to start playing better or that trade with the Celtics is going to look horrific in a year or so.
Heat - Only 4-3! They lost to the Celtics! LeBron's going to leave this summer! Oh the humanity! (P.S. this is a joke) (P.P.S. Or is it..)
It will be interesting to see if Wiggins, Randle and Parker's seasons getting underway impacts the level in which these teams decide to tank. I remember when Kevin Durant burst onto the scene in 2006-07 that suddenly the Celtics took their tank game to heights not seen around these parts since the Duncan run ten years prior. If all three of these guys put up transcendent Freshmen seasons, we may see a few of these teams throw caution to the wind with multiple superstar type talents available.
No matter what happened, we'll keep out eyes on it at Wiggins Watch.
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For more of my articles, click here Michael Dyer 11/11/2013 04:50:00 PM Tweet