The NBA has been thrown for a loop. Some teams that are supposed to be great are just good. Some teams that are supposed to be ok are great. Frankly, it’s getting hard for me to sort out. Are the Hornets for real or is Chris Paul just trying to raise his stock? Is Carmelo Anthony giving up on the Nuggets in a very subtle way? What’s the deal with Chris Bosh, and, is his huge salary even helping the Heat? Without further ado, here are the puzzling power rankings for the middle of November. Who would’ve thought we’d be here?!
The Very Top
The Lakers, Celtics, and Hornets hold the top of the NBA in a stranglehold. Having the Lakers and Celtics up here makes sense. They are getting off to fast starts so they can play lawn chair basketball for a couple months before the playoffs. This is especially helpful for the Celtics because they need to be healthy come playoff time. Remember last year? The worst 18 minutes of their season came at the end of game seven in the finals. Not the best time to fall apart. The Hornets? That’s a different story. I know that Chris Paul met with the ownership in New Orleans. I know that he says he’s “on board” with their vision. I know he’s playing completely out of his mind right now. Is this really CP3? Or is this insider trading on his stock? If Paul wants out of New Orleans there’s no better way to move on than to look really good really early. It only takes one notion of unhappiness to make the ownership go, “Maybe we should trade him and get some value before he bolts next year.” When he gets traded he’ll probably get signed to an extension and he’ll have made his money before the end of the season. I think Gordon Gecko would be proud. I can’t prove that it’s greed. I can’t prove that he wants to leave New Orleans, but all the posturing he did concerning going to the Knicks is public record. He said he wanted to leave — now he wants to stay? I don’t buy it. Even if I don’t buy it the Hornets are playing great and they deserve to be up here.
Near the Summit
The Heat, Magic, Nuggets, and Hawks are close to the summit. And it should be no surprise that three of these teams are in the same division. This crew that’s trailing the top three has teams in the southeast division that are going to be pounding each other all year. Since the Celtics already jumped in front they can sit back and watch the southeast teams bloody each other all year. It works, just ask the Lakers. The Nuggets sit at 4-3 and I know Carmelo Anthony is playing well. I know they look pretty nice. I know he says he’s “on board”, but I think he’s got the same plan CP3 has. They want to hit the Big Apple. If Carmelo were really “all in” this team would be 6-1 given the way he’s playing. This is a league where you can win regular season games by yourself a lot of the time. He should be doing that and he’s not. Carmelo’s foot has been halfway out the door since the summer and we can see it. His play isn’t translating to consistent winning. That’s a problem for the Nuggets and good for Melo. I think he’s getting traded. That leaves the three-way steel cage match between Miami, Orlando, and Atlanta. Atlanta started strong and dropped a couple games in a row. The Magic are playing their game, and Chris Bosh can’t rebound. At all. Bosh is averaging about five rebounds per game. A dude that plays his position with his size should be pulling 10-12 boards minimum. That’s with no effort. When you’re that tall and supposedly so talented the ball should just fall into your hands for no reason. This guy can’t buy a board if it hit him in the face. Did anybody see that coming? I did, because I always thought he sucked anyways. Yes, I just said Chris Bosh sucks. Get used to it. It isn’t getting any better.
The One I Don’t Get
Oklahoma City is playing .500 basketball. Kevin Durant is supposed to be the second coming, but his team isn’t blowing doors off of the other teams. I don’t know if it’s gone to their heads or they just start slowly, but the Thunder cannot realistically expect the NBA to take them seriously if they are playing marginal basketball. I’m not saying one word about stats because the record says it all, and playing .500 ball isn’t enough. KD needs to figure it out and assert himself on this team. Now. He can’t wait. He can’t decide to pull it together later. He can’t look around and say, “We’ll get it in the playoffs”, he most certainly cannot coast into the playoffs. I was fully expecting the Thunder to be the two seed in the western conference. I was fully expecting the Lakers to play the Thunder in the western conference finals. Granted, there’s a lot of basketball to be played, but the Thunder are playing like they may not even see the Lakers in the playoffs. They have to look ahead or they’ll get lost in the fray as Steve Nash, Brandon Roy, and Deron Williams do assert themselves and rise up. KD will be sitting in the Oklahoma prairie saying, “What happened here?” Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki, Brandon Roy, and experience happened. That’s what. I can’t wait around for this team to get better. Play now, or don’t play at all. If you want to fight for a low seed in the west that’s fine, but don’t be shocked if we’re skeptical of you. We want to see Durant winning a scoring title and scaring the crap out of the “powers that be”. We want to see greatness. Right now, no one’s shaking in their boots.