Week 4 of Wiggins Watch is here, and I really, really was tempted to just put the entire Eastern Conference except the Heat and Pacers on the list and call it a day. Damn the East sucks. November 25th and we already know the Conference Finals match-up (barring a Paul George/LeBron injury)..weak.
But I like you guys too much for that, so I'll post all the contenders for the big time collegiate prizes. Let's start off again by taking a look at what the holy triumvirate is doing at school.
Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: 16.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 59% FG, 40% 3 PT (4 games)
Jabari Parker, Duke: 23 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.8 BPG, 1.3 SPG, 58% FG, 61% 3 PT (6 games)
Julius Randle, Kentucky: 20.8 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1 BPG, 61% FG (5 games)
My goodness. Parker and Randle are doing their best "Kevin Durant freshman year" impressions so far, while Wiggins is starting off a bit slower - but still more than holding his own.
So the future studs are holding up their end of the bargain, but what about the teams chasing them? Let's break it down.
The Top 3:
1. Jazz, 1-14
2. Bucks, 2-10
3. Nets, 3-10
I've already proclaimed my respect for Utah's strategy of finding three keepers (Hayward, Kanter and Favors) and surrounding them with pure awfulness, so I won't spent too much time on them. But I need to point out their crapitude for a second. Over the past ten seasons, only one team has been outscored by an average of 10 points per game - the 2011-12 Bobcats, who were outscored by 13.9 PPG on their way to the worst season in NBA history (7-59). But Utah may be on their way to challenging that Bobcats team. The Jazz are 1-14, with a -11.8 point differential, two points worse than the next team. They are 30th in offensive efficiency and 27th in defensive efficiency, a combo that is borderline unheard of. One month in..Utah is in a (crappy) league of their own.
Milwaukee on the other hand was projected to be semi-decent, but injuries to Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Knight have torpedoed their chances. The Bucks lost by 24 to the Bobcats on Saturday, and have not won since November 6th.
Meet the Nets! Meet the Nets! Step right up and beat the Nets! It's not surprising that the Nets have struggled out of the gate, especially when you consider the injuries (Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry) and the number of new players in house. But who predicted it would be this ugly? 3-10, Pierce and KG looking beyond ancient (especially KG), Jason Kidd looking overmatched (ok..we all predicted this one), bickering between Kidd and top assistant Lawrence Frank, bickering between Kidd and his players. It's a dumpster fire right now. You'd think that the Nets still have a shot at making a run if they can get healthy..especially in the embarrassingly bad East. But at some point they need to start winning basketball games and stop bitching at one another for that to happen.
Reminder: While the Celtics do hold the Nets pick, Atlanta has the right to swap that pick for their own if they so choose (stupid Joe Johnson trade). So while Brooklyn is currently #3 in the lottery, Atlanta would take that pick and give the Celtics theirs - which would currently be 22nd overall. Letdown city.
Additional Wiggins Contenders:
Knicks, 3-9 - What a year for the New York teams, huh? Yanks and Mets miss the playoffs, Jets and Giants are below .500, Islanders and Rangers are struggling, and all of those teams are better than both the Knicks and Nets. The Knickerbockers are a disaster at the moment, having lost five in a row, and they look rudderless without Tyson Chandler anchoring the middle. New York is also drowning in a pool of missed three-pointers, as they are firing 26 per game while only shooting 32.7% from deep. J.R. Smith alone is attempting 7.4 per game while only converting 30.4%. KEEP SHOOTING BRAH!
Cavs, 4-10 - Let's flashback to the Spring, shall we? Everyone was talking about the Cavs bright future. Kyrie, Waiters, Thompson, Zeller, the #1 overall pick, and maybe..just maybe..LeBron in 2014. Put on your sunglasses because the future is bright in Cleveland! Oh wait, just kidding everything went wrong because it's Cleveland and everything always goes wrong in Cleveland. The Cavs three-step process of transforming from "NBA up-and-comer" to "typical Cleveland disappointment" went like this: 1. Re-hire Mike Brown. The same Mike Brown who had already been replaced by Byron Scott and Mike D'Antoni in the past three seasons. 2. Draft Anthony Bennett #1 overall. Bennett so far: 2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 21% FG (warning do not stare directly at those numbers or your eyes will melt). 3. Sign Andrew Bynum for $25 million over two years. Granted, Bynum can be waived before next season for nothing, but how could you ever justify 2/25 for a guy with that kind of injury history? So far Bynum has been as depressing as could be, putting up 6.9 PPG and 3.6 RPG while saying repeatedly that he's a "shell of his former self". Sick allocation of $25 million you guys!
Orlando, 4-9 - The Magic are only 4-9, but a silver lining for them is that only two of the nine losses are by double-digits. Still, Orlando's young core just can't win away from home (0-5 on the road), and they depart on a six game road trip a week from today. If Orlando wants a win at any point in the coming weeks, they better get the job done vs the Hawks or Sixers in the coming days.
Kings, 4-9 - A few reasons why I think this team isn't as bad as their record. 1. They have played the 3rd hardest schedule in basketball (.551 combined winning percentage). 2. Despite the schedule, their -3.8 point differential is better than nearly any other team on this list. 3. The have a slew of offensive talent that should only get better as the season goes on. DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 21.3 PPG/10.5 RPG/2.2 APG/1.7 SPG/1.2 BPG in his breakout campaign, Isaiah Thomas is averaging 17.9 PPG off the bench, and Ben McLemore should be able to improve upon his early season numbers (he's shooting 39% from three, but only 38% from two point range..seems unsustainable he'd be that bad from close). Sacramento's problem: they play in the West. They're probably a 4-seed in the East, but may very well finish 14th out West.
Celtics, 5-10 - For the 2nd straight week, the Celtics went 1-3. However, with the awfulness that is the East, Boston only climbed one tank spot, from 9th up to 8th. At this point the Cs are 1 game out of the 8-seed, 2 games out of the 4-seed (Atlantic division leading Toronto), and 2.5 games up on the Bucks for having the #2 lottery position. What am I trying to say? Basically I have no god damn idea what's about to happen with this team. The East is so horrible that anything is possible. Boston is currently the 10th ranked team in defensive efficiency and 26th ranked on offense. But you'd have to think that Rajon Rondo is going to make a nice impact on the latter, whenever it is that he returns. The Celts also have a much easier schedule this week than they have over the past couple (@ Charlotte, vs Memphis, vs Cleveland, @ Milwaukee). At this moment that #8 lottery position gives Boston a 2.8% chance to pick first and a 10% shot of landing in the top three. Stay tuned.
76ers, 6-9 - Philly has now gone 1-3 in three consecutive weeks and is still the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference. Incredible. The Sixers defense is giving up a mind numbing 109.3 PPG this year, and their point differential is -5.7 (25th in the NBA). They've also played nine home games compared to only six road games. I'd say that the crash is coming, but the fact is that it's already here. The East is just so bad that it's been hidden so far.
Others to Keep an Eye on:
Bulls, 6-6 - DROSEEEE NOOOOOOOOOOO. Now the question becomes, do the Bulls deal Luol Deng and really blow things up? Chicago survived a Rose-less season when they were expecting it and had Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli in house. But now it's hitting them mid-season and they may not be able to replicate last year's success.
Bobcats, 7-7 - Not sold yet Charlotte. I swear, MJ could have this team 60-0 in March and I'd be sitting here including them in the rankings. Prove me wrong catz.
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Michael Dyer 11/25/2013 04:46:00 PM Tweet