The NBA's most underrated
This season has been pretty great: the drama with the Lakers, Harden’s separation from the Thunder and the Rockets being so good after a major haul, Tony Parker having a phenomenal season, Kevin Durant on-course to become the first player ever to be scoring champion with (50% field goal, 40% 3pt, 90% free throw percentages) and LeBron being LeBron.
There are also some other stories that flew under the radar this season, to name a few:
Last off-season, Danny Ferry, the former Vice President of the Spurs was made the GM of Hawks, the first trade he made was to trade franchise face Joe Johnson for Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar among others.
Losing a franchise face is also a difficult phase for the season, just ask the Magic, but the hawks recovered they had a 104.9 offensive rating (Offensive Rating is points scored per 100 possessions) with Joe and 104.3 without him, their pace has also increased from being ranked 22nd in the league to 14th without Joe in the line-up, the Hawks are a lock for the playoffs and with Joe’s salary off the books, this was a one good deal for the Hawks.
In middle of 2012-13 season the Nets with a 14-14 record decided to fire Avery Johnson, a guy who took Dallas to a 67 win season and the coach of the month that month. The move was criticized by a lot of people, especially his son and Gregg Popvich.
There were rumors about Phil Jackson and others but the Nets decided to stay with PJ who was then their Assistant Coach and he’s doing pretty good out there, the Nets are 23-14 under Carlesimo, Deron Williams has finally found his touch back, Reggie Evans and Blatche are suddenly good. You gotta give PJ the props.
The Charlotte Bobcats continue to be the worst team in the league, they got to a nice 8-7 start to the season but since then its just been another day, another loss story for the Bobcats. However, the cats have made significant improvement this season, by their standards:
The Bobcats averaged a mere 87.0 ppg last season (ranked 30th) and now they are 27th with 93.0 ppg.
They have doubled their wins with two games less than last season.
Their offensive rating in also now not the worst, although its second last.
The Grizzlies are the new Spurs of the NBA, rare are the chances anybody would mention them, well they have been freaking good this season wining nearly 70% of their games so far (44-19). They have the league best defense and have lost only two games since the exit of Rudy Gay to Toronto. They are a team nobody would want to come up against in the post season.
They have an impressive line-up with Marc Gasol is the #1 center in the league right now, Zach Randolph is coming back to his past form and Mike Conley has become a floor general. Add a nice starting forward like Parsons and they could contend for the ultimate.
Admist of all the injuries and playoffs hopes diminishing, Andrei Kirilenko has somehow stayed healthy and even more surprisingly, he’s playing great ball, night, night out. He’s having his 4th best scoring and rebounding season and has a true shooting percentage (which accounts for shooting efficiency that takes into account 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals and free throws) of .599, his career’s second best and somehow all this has flown under the radar.
Due the prolonged Derrick Rose injury everybody is getting playing time in Chicago and Jimmy Butler is making the most of it. The 30th pick of a weak 2011 draft, Butler has suddenly made Luol Deng expendable for averaging 8 minutes in his rookie season and he has gone to 23 minutes this season becoming a sixth man in Bulls lineup. His offense is really raw but the best thing about him is his defense; he’s already being nicknamed as the “Kobe Stopper”. Rose’s injury might have helped him find his back-court partner.
Wait? Who? For a start, Greivis Vasquez is the starting point guard of the New Orleans Hornets. It’s only his third season in the NBA and he is in top-3 in assists at the moment, averaging 9.4 per game. He also averages a respectable 14 points per game and is arguably a contender for most improved player of the year.
In 2011 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets selected Marcus Morris with their 14th pick and recently traded him to the Suns for a mere 2nd round pick whereas in the same draft. The Rockets selected Chandler Parsons with the 38th pick and he is now a member of their starting five.
Parsons averages 15 pts, 5 rebounds and 4 assist per game and is a key piece to the best young team in the NBA. All-round players like Parsons don’t come too often.
Big-man J.J Hickson is only 24 and is already in his 5th season in the NBA. The Trail Blazer averages a double-double per game (14 pts, 10 rebs) with a player efficiency rating of 20.5 and yet manages to be under the radar all the time.