Surprise! Surprise! Teams that people least expect to lead their conferences are now doing so right now, and a coaching change completed in Tinseltown. Here are the happenings from Week 3 of the 2012-13 NBA season.
Grizzlies streaking out West.
After starting the season with a loss against the team that booted them out last season in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers in L.A., the Memphis Grizzlies are right now the hottest team in the NBA as they have won the next seven games after their opening night defeat against the Clippers. Yesterday, they gave the then undefeated New York Knicks their first defeat of the season with a 105-95 victory at home. Now the Grizzlies, have taken the reigns from the San Antonio Spurs as the best team in the Western Conference. For the Grizzlies, they are led by a four-man machine led by Rudy Gay who leads the team in scoring at 19.8 points per game (together with 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per outing), Zach Randolph who leads the team in rebounding at 13.9 rebounds per game (alongside 17.2 points per outing), Spaniard Marc Gasol who leads the team in blocks at 1.3 per outing (together with 15.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per outing), and Mike Conley who leads the team in assists at 6.4 per outing as well in steals at 2.0 per outing (alongside 14.8 points per outing). The Grizzlies also have other good players to back up these four men like Tony Allen who is the defensive dynamo for this squad, together with Quincy Pondexter, Jerryd Bayless, Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington. Things are looking bright from this squad from Tennessee, who knows? We could see them atop the league at the end of the season. With a stacked lineup and team that quote themselves as “We Don’t Bluff City”. These Grizzlies are there to make some noise in the ever-always “Wild Wild West”.
Fear the Deer!
It has been a long time since this team was relevant in the NBA, but this season, there are more reasons to say “Fear the Deer!” The Milwaukee Bucks, who are currently in 2nd in the Eastern Conference behind the New York Knicks have found their groove at the same time surprising everyone in the Eastern Conference, as right now they are ahead of more popular teams like the reigning champions Miami Heat as well as the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, and division rivals the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers. Led by one of the best backcourt duos in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Bucks are in early position to make some noise in the Eastern Conference. Jennings, the face of these new look Bucks team is averaging 17.5 points per outing, he leads the team in assists at 8.0 per outing as well as steals averaging 3.3 per game. Ellis, who joined the Bucks from Golden State mid-season is leading the team in scoring at 20.3 points per game (together with 5.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game). Aside from the explosive backcourt duo, the Bucks have a lot of players who can step up like Mike Dunleavy Jr., Larry Sanders, Tobias Harris, Ersan Ilyasova, Beno Udrih and Samuel Dalembert to name a few. Every player on the Bucks roster can contribute. Especially in a division where favored teams like the Bulls and Pacers are going through injury issues. These guys from Wisconsin have the capability to steal the Central Division crown. Like they say there, FEAR THE DEER!
Mike D’Antoni, new coach of the Lakers.
Days after Mike Brown was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Another “Mike” will take over the coaching reins for the purple and gold, by the name of Mike D‘Antoni. D’Antoni who was notable for his coaching stints with the Phoenix Suns and the New York Knickswas named the new head coach for the Lakers and was selected over the more popular choice among Laker fans in the name of “The Zen Master” Phil Jackson.
D’Antoni’s coaching record in the regular season stands at 388-339 (53.3%) in 10 seasons as head coach (Denver, Phoenix & New York) and is 26-29 (47.3%) in 5 playoff appearances (4 with the Suns, 1 with the Knicks.) D‘Antoni will also reunite with Steve Nash whom he coached to two MVP trophies in 2005 and 2006 with the Suns.
Right now there are a lot of questions for the franchise, will D’Antoni’s hiring as coach bring the Lakers out of the flux in the Western Conference and into contending for a championship where many pundits wrote about them especially with the arrivals of both Nash and Dwight Howard to join forces with Kobe Bryant and Paul Gasol. We’ll see if a proud franchise can make a large fan base happy about this season with D’Antoni calling the shots. He will make his coaching debut in Los Angeles as the Lakers will face the Houston Rockets tomorrow.
Meanwhile, LeBron James of the Miami Heat and Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week respectively.
Here’s how the teams are faring right now in the NBA:
1. Grizzlies (8-1), 2. Spurs (8-2), 3. Clippers (7-2), 4. Thunder (7-3), 5. Warriors (5-4), 6. Timberwolves (5-4), 7. Mavericks (6-5), 8. Jazz (5-6), 9. Trail Blazers (4-5), 10. Lakers (4-5), 11. Rockets (4-5), 12. Nuggets (4-6), 13. Hornets (3-5), 14. Suns (4-7), 15. Kings (2-7)
1. Knicks (6-1), 2. Bucks (6-2), 3. Heat (8-3), 4. Nets (5-2), 5. Celtics (6-4), 6. Bulls (5-4), 7. 76ers (5-4), 8. Bobcats (4-4), 9. Hawks (4-4), 10. Pacers (4-6), 11. Magic (3-5), 12. Cavaliers (2-7), 13. Raptors (2-7), 14. Pistons (1-9), 15. Wizards (0-7)
All teams have tasted defeat this season, only the Washington Wizards have yet to taste a victory this season. We have some surprise teams on in the early hunt like the Golden State Warriors and the Minnesota Timberwolves (they’re doing it without stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, as well as some players who are also out with injuries and are playing hurt)out West, while the Brooklyn Nets are living up to the hype since their move from New Jersey, while the Charlotte Bobcats are at .500 as of the moment.
Watch out for the next edition of my weekly NBA blog next week.