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This has been a fascinating year thus far. It’s not just the off-season transactions, the Lakers going for another three-peat, or the hype in South Beach. From rookies to veterans, we are in the middle of one of the most exciting statistical seasons, ever. Most of that can be attributed to some of the all-time great players reaching the end of their careers or young guys trying to make a name for themselves. We are a quarter of the way through the year and here are the statistical standouts thus far:
Chicago Bulls (1st, 12-8)
A Rose That Grew: Derrick Rose is developing into one incredible player. In just his third season his game is already a potent poison for most defenses to deal with. He has a lethal combination of speed, agility and power that I have only seen from one other player, you know who I’m talking about. So far this year Rose has put up 25.1 ppg and 8.2 apg. Those are staggering stats but just how staggering? In the history of the NBA, only 6 other NBA players have recorded at least 25 & 8 for an entire season ( Jerry West x2, Oscar Robertson x9, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Tiny Archibald and some dude named Michael Adams). Like his name’s sake, Rose’s game has thorns.
Indiana Pacers (2nd, 10-10)
McUps: The Central Division is actually quite boring. Like wise so are the Indiana Pacers. Just like their 10-10 record, everything they do is near the league average. Except for one overly athletic Caucasian by the name of Josh McRoberts. At 6’10” the former Duke player has a vertical of 32”. When he isn’t busy banging in dunks on a defender’s head, he could very nearly bang his own head on the rim.
Milwaukee Bucks (3rd, 8-13)
Nothing To Fear: After last years impressive run, the Bucks adopted the #FearTheDear motto. This year, they have been anything but frightening. The own the NBA’s worst offense in terms of Offensive Efficiency (99.9 ORtg) and Points Per Game (91.2 ppg). And if you are still awake after those two snoozing stats, the Bucks play at one of the slowest paces in the NBA (90.9). These might not be the best stats to watch out for unless you are planning on taking a nap.
Cleveland Cavaliers (4 th, 7-15)
Comedy Of Errors: The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t the worst Offensive team in the NBA, but it is close. Their 101 points per 100 possessions is the 2nd worst rating in the NBA. Likewise their defense is also putrid, allowing 110.2 points per 100 possession, which ranks 25th in the NBA. If you thinik that’s bad, it gets worse, their OffEff/DefEff differential is the worst in the league coming in at a -9.2 points per 100 possessions per game. In laymen’s terms on they are getting blown out of every game by an average of 9 points. If there was ever a need to justify LeBron’s two MVPs it’s the fact that in the two previous years the Cavaliers were in the top two in differential (2009-10 - #2, +7.1, 2008-09 - #1, +10).
Detroit Pistons (5th, 7-16)
Coming Up Empty: Much like Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons in the Billups for Iverson trade, I got nothin’. Sorry, Motorcity.
I actually do have something for this team. Piston fans probably don’t want to hear it but I’m going to tell you anyway. Tracy McGrady has played in all 23 games this year and is on pace to play in all 82 for the first time EVER. *golf clap*
Keep your pencils sharp and your calculators handy, NBA geeks! We’ll be back soon with the next installment of ‘NBA Stats To Watch For’.
LeBron James went cold last night. Cold Hearted.
Last night we saw something else in LeBron. We saw his thirst for blood. We saw him suck the life out of the building. We saw him massacre the masses and walk away from the scene of the crime grinning as if nothing was wrong. For the first time in months, perhaps ever, LeBron James was who we wanted him to be; a cold hearted killer.
LeBron has been trying to paint himself the villain ever since ‘The Decision’ telecast. But his cries for more fun dulled out any signs that he had turned to the darkside. LeBron was trying to sell himself as the villain but we weren’t buying it. What Maverick Carter, World Wide Wes and the rest of his entourage never informed him of was villains don’t have fun and indulge is villainy on the side. Those things should become one in the same. LeBron has been searching for the perfect formula or the opportune moment to merge the fun with the hate to truly embrace the role of the villain.
Don’t get me wrong, LeBron had a lot of fun in The Q. He always has fun, that’s him modus operandi. Last night, however, was a different kind of fun. There was some dancing, the ‘Shh’ hands made a few cameos, he even gave a few teammates a handshake that requires an owner’s manual. All the antics where there, he even did the powder toss, but they weren’t the reasons he had fun. This game wasn’t an episode of Entourage where the crew ends up at a party with playmates. This game was Christian Bale in ‘American Psycho’ putting on the overcoat, grabbing an axe and going to town on Jared Leto’s body. LeBron had fun last night but because he was killing; killing with a smile.
This wasn’t the Kobe variety of killer. That man is a cold blooded assassin. He comes into each game, setups shop, finds the intended target, kills and walks away. It’s not fun, it’s not joyful, it’s his job. His reward comes in the form of trophies in July, the body count is just collateral damage. For guys like Kobe, killing opponents is just a means to an end. James is not an assassin nor has he ever been nor will he ever be. Assassins don’t have fun, they don’t have friends, they don’t draw attention to themselves and they don’t live in the public eye. That’s the profile of a serial killer and that’s the genre of killers Lebron was flirting with last night.
Last night James might have finally solved his own puzzle. For the first time in his career he realized that there is nothing more fun than killing the opposition. In this game, LeBron looked as if he had found the perfect balance between villainy and fun. He had finally become that perfect villain.
LeBron took pleasure in Cleveland’s pain. The more they booed the more he scored. The more they hated him the more he loved them for it. With every shot he hit he submerged the knife deeper and deeper into Cleveland’s heart. As Miami’s lead grew bigger, the ‘boo’s quieted down, the chants died off and the crowd thinned out. By the end of the night, the loudest thing in the building was the smile on LeBron’s face and the only one still having fun was the man who just massacred an entire city. What LeBron did last night was borderline sociopathic and that’s exactly what we have been begging to see from him.
If you watch Criminal Minds, you know that ever serial killer has a trigger. Something at some point in their lives that sets him off. An occurrence that puts the wheels in motion and turns the average human into a killing machine.
The cold shoulder from Mo Williams was LeBron’s spark. James came out of the half on fire. He showed off his entire arsenal, the fast break ally-oop, the step back, the fade away. He scored 24 points in the quarter, the most he has ever scored in a single quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. LeBron finished the game with 38 points and would have probably dropped 50 had he played the 4th. Everything was going in and it was killing everyone in Cleveland and LeBron was having fun doing it.
Not sure if this is the new LeBron or just the LeBron was saw for this particular game but I’m hooked. The NBA fanatic inside of me is begging that he keeps the blood flowing. Like an episode of Dexter, I’m going to keep tuning in with hopes that LeBron keeps on killing. Killing with a smile.