I am going to start a weekly column here at King James Gospel, called: 5 Up, 5 Down. It is going to be based on 5 things during the week I noticed that I liked, and 5 things I didn’t like so much.
- Milwaukee Buck Lineups featuring Dunleavy and Redick: I was very excited for these two players before their first game together, and they definitely delivered against the Hawks. I especially enjoyed a specific play where Redick and Dunleavy were playing off each other, and when the shot went in I almost yelped. The Bucks, for whatever reason, wanted to put a Jennings-Ellis-Redick backcourt on the floor during the clutch moments, but I would find it much more effective to have the off-ball movement of Dunleavy and Redick when the game starts to slow down in the half court.
- Beal and Waiters in 2013: The third and fourth picks of the 2012 draft started off slow, but are starting to come on. Bradley Beal’s issues seem to have been personal. When the Wizards get healthier, he plays better. I remember the very first game of the season between these two teams, and the banged up Washington squad seemed to put the offensive load on their rookie shooting guard’s shoulders. He couldn’t handle it, but is flourishing now that John Wall and Nene are healthy and relieving some of the pressure that has been put on him. As for Dion Waiters, he is finishing much better at the rim. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a rookie can’t finish at the rim in their first month, and Dion was just one of those cases. He has improved at the rim every month, and has gone from 42.1% in November to 73.5% in February. His shot selection has also been noticeably better.
- The Aggressive Jeff Teague leading the Hot Hawks: I love what the Hawks have been bringing to the table as of late, and most of it starts with the level Jeff Teague has been performing at. Teague’s aggressiveness wanes at times , but in February he has mostly been the aggressive version of himself. Averaging 18.2 points and 9.5 assists this month is very impressive for the often overlooked point guard, and he is setting the pace for the Hawks who have positioned themselves in the fourth seed in the East. Key stat here is that Jeff is averaging 4.5 free throws a game this month, versus just 2 in December and November. It shows the different pace he is playing at.
- Portland’s Alternate Home Jerseys: Say what you want about the changes the Trail Blazers may have made to the red alternate jerseys. The white ones with “Rip City” on them are fantastically sharp.
- The Warriors Bouncing Back: I am a huge fan of this Warriors team. I just love their seven man rotation, and then after that I don’t really pay attention to anyone not named Kent Bazemore. Golden State lost six in a row going into their game with Phoenix, and there were people wondering if the team was going to fall off. They answered that call by reeling off three straight behind some incredible play by Jarrett Jack. They can’t expect Jack’s hot play to last forever, but they can prevent having another big losing streak.
- The Raptors with Rudy Gay: To put it lightly, this trade was thought of negatively by writers. I agreed, but I also didn’t think it would be that bad. One thing I do love about the deal is DeMar DeRozan playing more comfortably with the second wing defender. Rudy Gay’s shooting percentages are even worse as a Raptor, and the team has an even lower True Shooting Percent since the deal. Not a good sign after acquiring a $16 million dollar wing.
- Derek Fisher Signing to a Professional Team in North America: Who’s ready to see Reggie Jackson make one mistake and the ole dirty Fisherman try to cover CP3. Not me.
- The Ghost Town of Detroit Basketball: I hear the awkward silence crickets when I watch the Pistons try to do much of anything. Brandon Knight isn’t a guy who strikes fear in the heart of defender, but the team at least had an offensive spark in him. The only thing I can compare Detroit’s team to lately is a ghost town – there used to be life there, at least I believe.
- Opinion’s on the Rockets: So, I was theorizing who the Lakers would replace if they get it together and make the playoffs. Every answer was the Jazz, which I agree is the most likely. I just disagree with the fact people believe the Rockets are safe. I love James Harden and Chandler Parsons, and I want to see them make it. The issue of depth is more important in the regular season than in the postseason. If anyone in Houston’s starting lineup goes down, I am very worried about how the team will play. Worried enough that I even wonder who in Houston can replace Jeremy Lin? Patrick Beverly is a cool fill in, but he could get torched by every point guard in the West. Even if the Rockets are healthy, I still COULD see the Jazz and Lakers being the seven and eight seeds, with Houston on the outside. Not what I think will happen, but it’s not a completely off the wall thought.
- Jarrett Jack’s Eventual Contract: I am envisioning Jarrett Jack signing with the Jazz for 4 years, $40 million. Ugh. Jack has never taken more than 29% of his attempts at the rim. He’s only getting older. That midrange shot is going to stop falling one day. Total trap contract in the making.