Obviously, this is a New Jersey Nets blog, however, the NAS crew absolutely love the NBA in general. So, every week, Mark, Devin, Evan, Justin, Danny, and myself will answer questions regarding the L.
1) Kevin Garnett allegedly called Charlie Villanueva a “cancer patient” and Villanueva took to Twitter and essentially ratted Garnett out. Was this a personal issue that Villanueva could have kept between himself and Garnett?
Justin: This to me seemed like a personal issue and something that should have been kept between them. While I don’t doubt Garnett said something in bad taste, I don’t feel it was necessary for Villanueva to make it a public ordeal, though its easy for me to say.
Danny: If there’s one thing in sports I hate more than cultural insensitivity, it’s libel. Villanueva had no business exposing this supposed conflict to the public. Even if Garnett did, in fact, say what Villanueva reported he said, sparking public discourse about it certainly isn’t going to solve anything. Go to Garnett directly and work it out with him. Instead, now we have to face thinly veiled cover-ups like the claim that Garnett said Villanueva is a cancer to his team and the league. I don’t buy that for a second. Honestly, while Garnett has been one of the forerunners of trash talk over the years, I think he has been inclined to ratchet it up lately now that his game can no longer speak for itself. Bad move both ways.
DV: I wouldn’t be surprised if Garnett actually said what Villanueva said he said. However, since I’m neither one of them and I wasn’t anywhere near the vicinity when this went down, I can’t say for certain. Despite that, whatever was said happened during the heat of battle and I’m pretty sure that those of us who trash talk say the wildest things to get into an opponent’s head. Do I really think Garnett doesn’t have an honest grasp of how serious cancer is? Of course I don’t. But what I do think is that Villanueva was being a baby here. It’s the equivalent of telling your second grade teacher that so-and-so threw a ball at your head during a game of dodgeball.
2) There are three undefeated teams in the NBA early on – Lakers (5-0), Hawks (5-0), and Hornets (4-0). What is working early on for the Hornets and what needs to happen for it to sustain the whole season?
Justin: I think what you’re witnessing with the early success of the Hornets is the impact Chris Paul has on a basketball game. I think people are quick to forget just how good this guy is, and how his teams perform when he’s healthy. While they won’t sustain quite the success they are having now, I do believe they can remain in the Western Conference playoff hunt all season as long as Paul is in the lineup.
Danny: While I expect that the Hornets’ unbeaten start will end tonight at the hands of the Miami Heat, New Orleans is succeeding for two primary reasons: (1) they’re playing stifling defense and (2) they aren’t turning the ball over. I’m surprised at the cohesiveness of the team considering all the rumors that Chris Paul would be gone by the season’s outset, but new coach Monty Williams has this team believing in the fundamentals. Any team that controls the ball and plays defense like the Hornets are now could be very successful in this league. It remains to be seen, though, if they can keep it up throughout the season. Trevor Ariza will be a key cog to sustaining the solid play.
DV: The Hornets are ranked fifth in points allowed (93.8), sixth in opponent’s field-goal percentage (42.8%), and ninth in opponent’s 3-point percentage (31.8%). If the Hornets can keep up the D and have Chris Paul inspired, the Hornets will contend for a playoff spot. The additions of Trevor Ariza and Marco Belinelli should pay off in a significant way.
3) After a handful of games, which team has surprised you, good or bad, the most?
Justin: My surprise team in the early season: LA Clippers. While I know it’s not much of a surprise that the Clippers are bad, I think that this season, in particular, is surprising. Many believed including myself that the Clips would be near the middle of the pack in the Western Conference. They certainly have the talent to do so. Eric Gordon had a great summer playing with the US team, and I thought he would carry over that momentum with him to the NBA. He, along with rookie Blake Griffin, the Clippers were certainly a team everyone was excited to see this season, but they have been anything but exciting. Eric Bledsoe did look impressive against the Thunder though which is a sign of encouragement.
Danny: You’ve got to be shocked at the Houston Rockets right now. At 0-4, they are the only winless team in the league other than the Detroit Pistons, and it doesn’t really make sense. Yes, two of their games were against the Lakers and Nuggets, but there are some very bad signs about this team. The Golden State starting backcourt torched them for 71 points and they’ve allowed 107 points or more in all four games. If they hope to make the playoffs, the defensive effort needs to show up to supplement the potent offensive combination of Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, and a limited Yao Ming. It’s a real shame that they’re spoiling Luis Scola’s smoldering start.
DV: The Miami Heat are a disgraceful 4-1. How could they have lost their first game of the season to the Boston Celtics? The Boston Celtics! What have they done recently? The Heat are allowing 84.0 points per game to their opponents and that makes zero sense. It should be 46 points per game, 50 at the most! Unbelievable. You’d think with all the hype surround them, they’d at least try.