14.6 pts/36, .535 TS% [.466 FG%, .378 3P%, .575 FT%] 26.8 AST%, 13.4 TO%, 14.1 PER.
Ty Lawson started off the season doing some of the good things he did last year, but he couldn’t shoot the damn ball. His at-rim fg% stayed above .600, which is great, but he lost his J and free throw stroke. This meant the D would sag off him, which limited his greatest strength – getting to the rim. If I published this last week, I would have had to point to his customarily awesome performance against the Lakers as his lone bright spot. He took over that game when the Nugs were down 10, leading them on a 16-0 run and an eventual victory.
I’m pleased to report that he’s been way better recently, though. After shooting 4-21 on threes in his first 10 games, Lawson has shot 10-16 in his last four. In those games, all Nuggets wins, he’s scored 15, 14, 17, and 15 points… all more efficiently than how he started the year. When Chauncey Billups’s wrist sidelined him against the Warriors and Bulls, Ty filled in just fine with the exception of his turnover rate.
His overall stats are underwhelming because of his early-season slump. Those numbers should get better across the board assuming he keeps shooting well. Lawson should start to call his own number more often and get to the line more consistently. We know he has the offensive tools and we know that he can’t help but improve on that terrible .575 free throw mark.
Good signs – he’s getting crunch-time minutes paired with Billups, and his coach knows how good he is:
“He’s a player that’s earned more time than we’ve given him probably. A lot of teams would be playing him 30 minutes a game.” – George Karl
Choice tweet: I jus realized it’s cuffin season…I need a bad beautiful woman to hold me down for a while
It looks like Roddy’s return is 3-4 weeks away.
That walking boot in the (awesome) pic above has been off for two weeks now. All indications are that he’s making steady progress, but the Mavs are going to be cautious. And as much as I want to see him play, as anxious as he must be to get out there, I can’t fault the organization. Dude is 22. No sense risking anything.
The question with Beaubois remains his role/his minutes when he returns. I’d assumed that he’d get 30+ minutes a night as the starting two-guard, with Jason Terry remaining as the 6th man, but I’m not totally optimistic about that anymore. A few reasons:
DeShawn Stevenson’s starting now and he’s shooting well for the first time in four years. Also, he’s proving valuable on the defensive end. The Mavericks are playing their best D in years and are 7th in defensive efficiency. Playing the undersized Beaubois at 2 might disrupt that.
Caron Butler and J.J. Barea have been great in their last two games against Miami and Houston. They had been underwhelming (and that’s being kind) until that point. This is a positive for the Mavs right now, but could complicate things when Roddy’s back. And we know Caron wants his playing time.
The other issue is that the Mavericks’ schedule gets very difficult later this month. Check this stretch – Dec. 20 @ MIA, Dec. 21 @ ORL, [Christmas break - fun for everyone], Dec. 27 @ OKC, Dec. 28 vs. TOR, Dec. 30 vs. SAN, Jan. 01 @ MIL, Jan. 02 @ CLE, Jan. 04 vs. POR, Jan. 06 vs. OKC, Jan. 08 vs. ORL. That’s tough, and there won’t be much practice time for Roddy. If he comes back in the middle of all this, I expect Carlisle to be veeeeery conservative with his minutes.
There’s one thing, though, that keeps me from worrying too much: the players know how much they need him. This isn’t like last season, where they were figuring out how good he was. They know. Examples:
“He’s another weapon for us. We’re that much more deeper of a team. We play faster with him, and he’s another guy that can get in the lane and create. We miss that. We definitely miss him.” – Jason Terry
“Jet is a shooter. I’m a shooter. Caron’s more of a shooter. We don’t have a guy that consistently gets in the paint. Hopefully Roddy will come back and open up our offense a little bit.” – Dirk Nowitzki
“The sky’s the limit if he keeps improving. He’s got the shot. He can go both ways. He’s got the floater. He can shoot off the dribble. He’s a long, crafty defender. There’s really nothing he can’t do. He’s going to be a real nice player.” – Dirk Nowitzki
Rob Mahoney revisits Game 6 of last season’s Mavs/Spurs series in light of Jason Terry’s 4th quarter performance against the Hornets.
Scott Schroeder criticizes the Mavs’ unusual decision to put Beaubois on a D-League roster with no intention of him ever playing there.
13.7 pts/36, .552 TS% [.419 FG%, .383 3P%, .696 FT%], 5.3 reb/36, 12.0 PER
The Kings are a mess. After starting the year 3-1, they’ve lost 11 of their last 12 games. DeMarcus Cousins and Paul Westphal apparently “always fight” and DMC was kicked out of practice on Monday. Also on Monday, Jason Thompson was officially given the starting 4 spot. Carl Landry tweeted the news that he would be going to the bench. This is not the first lineup shuffle; under Westphal, the rotation changed numerous times in the season’s first month. We’ll use our guy Casspi as an example:
Nov. 8, everything is great aside from Sacramento’s two straight losses:
“The real test for Omri this season will be to succeed where he failed last year – and that’s someime around January or February. One worry we can safely cross off our worry list, though, is that Omri’s blazing start to his rookie campain is a fluke. Omri has displayed the shooting stroke that helped him break into the rotation last year, and has seemed more comfortable defensively (he was absolutely everywhere against Cleveland, and not just on offense). Now it’s just a matter of keeping it up.” – Noam Schiller
Nov. 14, everything is still pretty much great aside from Sacramento’s four straight losses:
“What has really been nice to see is Omri sharing the ball and taking good shots. He’s done a good job as of late of getting the ball on the inside as well. On defense, I think he tries, but just doesn’t have the experience yet. We are expecting a lot from him for how young he is.” – Akis Yerocostas
Nov. 16, it appears Donte Greene, who has played a total of 7 minutes since his opening night (Oct. 27) start, will remain in the doghouse:
“Our team has bigger problems than how to fit (Greene) in right now. There may be a time when that does get to be a priority. Right now, it’s not.” – Paul Westphal
Nov. 17, Greene surprisingly plays 20 minutes vs. the Knicks. Jason Thompson, obviously a power forward, starts at the 3 but only plays 11 minutes. Casspi comes off the bench and plays 13 minutes. His previous season low was 20.
Nov. 18, Paul Westphal announces that Donte Greene is the starting small forward for the “forseeable future.”
Nov. 19, Donte Greene plays 34 minutes vs. NJ. Thompson again only plays 10. Casspi does not play at all.
“Omri Casspi was the odd man out. On one hand, I was sad because I love Omri, but on the other, this team needed defense way more than it needed offense, and Omri’s defense needs a lot of work. I think he’s a hard enough worker that that is probably what he’ll spend his time improving though.” – Akis Yerocostas
Nov. 21, vs. New Orleans, Donte plays 32 minutes, Thompson only 7, and Casspi again doesn’t get off the bench. This was possibly the ugliest game of the season. I disagreed, but understood the logic for keeping Omri out due to defensive concerns… but in this game, Sacramento COULD NOT SCORE. Greene’s blocks, rebounding, and effort were great, but the minutes shouldn’t have been distributed 32 to 0.
Since then, Casspi’s come off the bench and actually played – 14 min @ Utah, 19 @ LAC, 20 vs. Chicago, 16 vs. Indy. He continues to shoot well this season (with the exception of last night’s 0-5 effort), but his rebounding has dipped at both ends. It’s hard to make any projections for how he’ll fare from game to game because we don’t know what his role will be. Like the Kings, I’m excited about Omri in the long-run, but not at all comfortable with what’s going on right now.
11.1 pts/36, 0.443 TS%, .409 FG%, 0.824 FT% 12.0 reb/36, 12.5 PER
Sometimes, when you’re writing about the NBA, someone completely beats you to the punch. I’m not going to write a better summary of the DeJuan Blair quagmire in San Antonio than this one by Timothy Varner.
Here is an excerpt, but you should read the whole thing:
DeJuan Blair is a good basketball player. He has the potential to become a permanent double-double player, and, at worst, is already a threat to rumble off the bench for a high-energy 10-10. But one wonders if Blair can become this player for San Antonio. Given the Spurs’ current personnel and playing style, Blair is a poor fit.
Blair is still a starter, but he’s not consistently getting the minutes we’d hoped he would. He and newcomer Tiago Splitter don’t share the floor at all. As Varner explains, DeJuan is only making the team better when he’s playing with a floor-spacing big. He worked on his shot over the summer, but it hasn’t translated into better offense. That .443 TS% at the top is abysmal; his mark was .564 last season.
He’s shooting poorly because he’s taking fewer shots at the rim and he’s converting them at a poorer rate. He hasn’t ventured to the perimeter often, but he’s taken and missed more shots slightly away from the rim.
The pessimistic view: the Spurs are stacked. They don’t need Blair playing big minutes. Tim Duncan is going to play 29-30 minutes a game and there’s no use playing him and DeJuan together. He’s a valuable player, especially alongside Matt Bonner (who is shooting 55% on threes this season), but he won’t be very relevant anytime soon unless San Antonio’s frontline gets hit with an injury.
The optimistic view: We know Blair’s a hard worker. The fact that he’s unable to hit from the outside now doesn’t mean he won’t be able to later – remember Big Baby Davis missing all those open jumpers for the Celtics two years ago? Keep in mind the small sample size, but DeJuan is shooting .824 from the free throw line so far after going .547 in his rookie season. Bigs who can shoot free throws well can generally develop jump shots. And Gregg Popovich sees the big picture – if anyone is willing to play unproductive lineups now with hopes that they’ll be productive come playoff time, it’s him. This is the guy who “essentially wasted an entire season to teach a lesson” to a rookie Tim Duncan.
Since it’s the first day of December, I’ll cling to the latter view for now. His 16-point, 10-rebound effort in 28 minutes last night in Golden State is encouraging.
Choice twitpic: his black eye.
14.0 pts/36, 0.629 TS% [.580 FG%, 792 FT%], 9.0 reb/36, 2.7 blk/36, 19.0 PER, 128 ORtg [4th in the league].
A few quotes here tell the story about Serge’s season so far:
“Serge is getting better every game. He is one of our hardest workers. He’s a young, developing player. Tonight’s game was as well as I’ve ever seen him play. He was engaged defensively on every scheme that we had.” – Scott Brooks, after the Thunder’s win against the Jazz on November 15.
“Serge Ibaka needs to start. Clowntime is over, Scott Brooks, because this guy (22 points on 13 shots, four blocks, 11 rebounds, and zero turnovers) changes the game for your team.” – Kelly Dwyer, after that same game.
“Serge Ibaka is starting to scare me. Like I’m terrified by the time he’s eligible for a contract extension that Oklahoma City won’t have enough cap room to pay him. He just keeps moving up and up in terms of his ability. He actually has a refined offensive game now. Watching Ibaka grow as a player has been fun to watch, especially because you can see a massive difference between him now and even opening night. The mid-range jumper, the aggressiveness in the post, his help defense – all of it is better. I can’t wait to see what he looks like by even Christmas.” – Royce Young, reviewing the Thunder a month into the season.
I share Young’s enthusiasm and I share Dwyer’s opinion that he should be the Thunder’s regular starter at the 4. Air Congo is contributing in many different ways, now. On Nov. 28 against Houston, he scored 12 of the team’s first 14 points and finished with 16 points on 7-7 shooting, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks. In the next game, he was 0-5 from the floor and didn’t attempt a free throw, but was still a factor: 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, a steal, and +15. He’s started in half of the games he’s played and he’s been effective in almost all of them.
One game he wasn’t effective was the Nov. 26 game against the Pacers. He started in place of Nenad Krstic at center and Roy Hibbert ate him up so thoroughly that we saw Byron Mullens get his first non-garbage time minutes of the season. This is an example of why Young called the idea of Serge starting at 5 “nonsense” in this comprehensive look at the “should he start?” question. For the record, I’m for him taking Jeff Green’s spot at the 4, but I’m not completely ready to dismiss the idea of Ibaka playing center. Against guys like Hibbert, he may be overmatched, but there aren’t a lot of 5s with Hibs’s skillset. And with the ridiculous rate at which he’s progressed so far, it’s possible that he could get it figured out quickly. Maybe this is wishful thinking considering how convenient it would be to be able to keep Green in the starting lineup, but I’m not opposed to giving him more opportunities at that position.
Whether he’s a 4 or a 5, a starter or a sixth man, Serge is going to be fine. He’s been the MVP of the All-OTN Team by a mile.