Quantcast 2012 NBA News & Update: NBA Checkpoint

 

NBA Checkpoint: 3 Surprises so far

 

 

Some preseason predictions are easy. The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Oklahoma City Thunder will dominate. Yes, that one was easy. The L.A. Clippers will become MUST SEE TV. Okay, only AFTER the third iteration of the Chris Paul trade. Detroit, Washington, and Milwaukee are going to struggle. Sadly, this was also easy to see coming. However, there are a few surprises the NBA geniuses didn’t predict. Here’s a look at a few that are unfolding.

Honorable Mention: Indiana Pacers

They went out and signed players in the offseason, finally have a point guard that can dish over five assists a game (Darren Collison is averaging 5.6 APG), and a bench of Tyler Hansborough and George Hill that compliment the starter scoring of Danny Granger and David West quite well. It’s early, but the Pacers look real. Initial predictions put Indiana in the first round of the playoffs; they look ready for more and could be the team NOBODY WANTS TO PLAY come the postseason.

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#3 - Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers were not part of the conversation. The veteran savvy Celtics were making one more run if they could get by the NEW big 3 from New York. Between the two they would fight it out for the right to play Miami and Chicago for the Eastern Conference. Guess what? Philadelphia is the strongest AND more importantly, most consistent team in the division at this point. A well balanced roster of talented youth featuring Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes, and Jrue Holliday paired up with Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. Add in a very friendly January schedule that has Philly playing Washington THREE more times and the Knicks and C’s better be careful or they may find themselves far back in no time.

#2 - Atlanta Hawks

Finally, after years of underachieving the Atlanta Hawks are playing top level basketball again. Jeff Teague next to Joe Johnson works better than Mike Bibby and Josh Smith is turning in monster games night after night. Not every other game, but each night. Looking for the most valuable player? Joe Johnson can score, but Smith is the most important player on this Hawks team and should be an All-Star (if those things counted.) The bench features a couple of ex-All-Stars in Tracy McGrady and Jerry Stackhouse. I know, I know. Jerry Stackhouse is still in the league! Yes, and along with McGrady is providing some much needed leadership and energy off the bench. It’s already been a strange year, I know.

 

 

#1 - Andrew Bynum

When Lamar Odom got shipped to Dallas everyone jumped all over the Lakers. THEY GOT NOTHING! This was echoed from the West Coast to the chuckles heard in the East. Of course, everything is not always as it looks. The Odom move now means center Andrew Bynum is the man up front. Despite still having Kobe Bryant, after the Odom move and lack of follow-up move (Paul or Dwight Howard), most counted out the Lakers (myself included.) NOT SO FAST. Andrew Bynum is putting up 18.8 PPG and 15.7 RPG, both monster numbers by any stats guy criteria. Oh, and Bynum is healthy. Can he stay healthy? I lost my crystal ball (is that bad luck) so I’ll have to get back to you on that one. However, a healthy Bynum and Bryant is enough to make a run, at least NOW we know it is.

 

By: David. S. Grant
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer
David S. Grant is the author of several books. His latest novel, “BLOOD: The New Red” is now available. For more information go to http://www.silverthought.com/blood/ Follow David on Twitter: @david_s_grant


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