It’s time to take another look at the Eastern Conference, where the Chicago Bulls just won’t lay down, the Charlotte Bobcats are winning, and the New York Knicks need their big men back, pronto.
Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 22 inclusive:
So we’ve got the NBA All-Star Game coming up. Who’s going to represent the Eastern Conference? They’ve got LeBron James, and they’ve got some awesome bigs like Joakim Noah and Roy Hibbert. But on the perimeter? Wow. It looks like the best point guard in the East right now is Kyle Lowry (20.0 PER). He certainly deserves a starting spot. And I suppose Dwyane Wade (21.9 PER) has to be included, even if he’s missed 11 of Miami’s 41 games.
Let’s see… John Wall (20.3 PER) has to be in there. But those are the only guards in the East with a PER of 20 or more. That’s three people. The West has 11 guards at that level of performance as we go to press. Holy doodle. Such is life in the East; you’ve got injuries, you’ve got tanking, and in some cases, you’ve got both. Speaking of which, let’s take a spin around the conference and see how the NBA betting battle is going.
The “real” best point guard in the East is Derrick Rose, or at least he was. I’m skeptical that he’ll ever return to MVP form, but who needs Rose when you have… D.J. Augustin? Yup, Augustin (17.1 PER) was at it again on Wednesday, leading the Bulls with 27 points and seven assists in a 98-87 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers (–4.5 at home). Score another one for the good guys. Chicago is now 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS since trading Luol Deng.
The Cavs, meanwhile, slip to 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS since getting Deng for the Bulls. Deng admitted he’s having trouble adjusting to Mike Brown’s system – which should serve as a potent reminder to NBA betting enthusiasts that this is a coaches’ league. You can have quality players like Kyrie Irving (19.7 PER), who will probably make the All-Star team, but unless the Cavs decide to hire Mike Krzyzewski to coach his ex-Dukies, Cleveland’s going to keep spinning its wheels.
You could also make an argument for Kemba Walker (18.0 PER) to get an All-Star invite, but he’s out the next two weeks with a sprained ankle. No problem – Ramon Sessions (15.9 PER) was at the helm again Wednesday night, and although he was just 4-of-12 from the floor, his eight assists helped Charlotte upset the Los Angeles Clippers (–6) 95-91. Jannero Pargo also scored 11 points in 12 minutes off the bench. Guess I should have stuck with my first instinct. Fear the ‘Cats~!
I vaguely recall there was a winter sport that was popular in the T-Dot… what was it… oh yeah, “ice hockey.” Forget that noise. The Raptors had a couple of rough outings this past week, but then they beat the shorthanded Dallas Mavericks (+3 away) 93-85 on Wednesday to improve to 10-5 SU and 12-3 ATS since the holidays. DeMar DeRozan (17.2 PER) made his claim for an All-Star berth with 40 points, and back-up PG Greivis Vasquez (11.6 PER) had one of his better days with 17 points and seven assists. Now that’s what I call Greivis bodily harm.
New York Knicks
The Knicks have all their injured point guards back, but unfortunately for them, Amar’e Stoudemire (16.5 PER) and Kenyon Martin (11.9 PER) both got hurt last week, and New York is back to its losing ways at 0-5 SU and ATS in its last five games. They even lost at home Wednesday night to the tanktastic Philadelphia 76ers (+8), 110-106. The beatings will continue until morale improves, which won’t happen until the Knicks get their full complement of bigs back. By the way, how do you think they feel now about not trading for Lowry?