Let's get to it. Lots of questions in the queue on a Power Rankings Monday.
Is Bill Simmons directing the show over there? You ranked Boston No. 1 this week, saying the "quality" of the wins over Houston and Detroit factored in. How does a four-point win over Houston and a 12-point win over Detroit match the quality of the Lakers' wins over everyone? The Lakers' entire team is clicking and their defensive rating is tops in the league.
Wanted to get this one out of the way and was happy to find a question that didn't reference "Kobe Hater" or "East Coast Bias" or any of the other tired cliches that fill up the queue, as they have again today, about me and the Lakers. (As we seem to announce every season, here's yet another reminder: I've been based in a Western Conference city for all but one of my 16 seasons covering the league, which would make it a pretty good trick to have an East Coast bias. I've also enjoyed a very good relationship covering Kobe dating all the way back to his first dribbles for the Lakers in summer-league ball in 1996, so I'm sorry to disappoint anyone convinced that Kobe-hating is at work whenever L.A. isn't in the No. 1 spot. As for Simmons, he only wishes he ran the Power Rankings. And if there was a Simmons factor in my thinking, Boston would be 30th every week just to rile him up.)
The Lakers were undeniably awesome Sunday turning that game against the Rockets completely around, but their early schedule has been incredibly soft. Where were Boston's wins over the Rockets and Pistons? Not only were they both on the road, but Houston was all psyched up for its first big test of the season and Detroit was all geeked up for Iverson's first home game. Throw in an Opening Night comeback win over Cleveland and the Celts have racked up three quality wins already. I would expect the Lakers to have a fat victory margin with the schedule they've seen and lack of travel so far.
The Lakers, as of Monday morning, simply hadn't come close to playing two road games in a week at the level of Houston and Detroit. And if memory serves, I held the Celtics out of the top spot early last season for the exact same reason. Can't remember all the details now but I seem to remember writing often about how Boston went a full month before it saw anything resembling a real road trip in 2007-08.
The Lakers schedule has been soft, but they have DOMINATED their opponents. They have scored the most points per game and gace up the least points per game. You can not fault the Lakers for the schedule makers.
Is No. 2 such an insult? I don't think it is, especially in Week 2. Just a hunch, but I have a feeling that the Lakers will spend plenty of time at No. 1 season. But I'm going to try to move onto something from here . . . although it's good to see the Angelenos get revved up because so much of America thinks everyone's so laid back out there.
Does Philly just need time to bond or were they overrated by many?
I'm going with more time, remembering how long it took them to kick in last season. Otherwise I'm one of the leading overraters.
Any news on the Al Harrington front?
Not yet. But eventually someone will come up with a trade package that works because Al's contract expires after the 2009-10 season, so lots of teams are eager to take him on for the next two years.
Chances that the Cavs land McDyess? Would that position them to really challenge the Celtics in May?
All is hear is Detroit, Detroit, Detroit. Everyone close to this who I've spoken to says the same thing. Don't see Cleveland, Boston, San Antonio or anyone else keeping Dice away from a Motown return. We just posted a news story on the site that gives more detail, but basically the message I keep hearing is the same: "Dice only wants to play in Detroit."
Why hasn't Jerry Sloan ever won the Coach of the Year award?
It's a good question, especially since most national writers love Jerry from everything I know, love his candor and hard edge. The best theory I can give you is that the Jazz have been consistently good for the last 20 years . . . and coaches who generally win that award are the guys who win a lot more games than know-it-alls like me projected in preseason prognistications. Not such great rationale on our part, but that's how it seems to have played out.
Goran Dragic has been spectacularly bad. When does the Suns front office admit it made a mistake and start looking for a new back up PG?
I, too, was underwhelmed by Dragic as far back as camp when I saw him a couple times. But the season is two weeks old. Some perspective, please.
You know the Spurs and are also their staunchest defender. But could Parker's injury, even at this early stage, signal the end of the Spurs' season and, dare I say it, for this team as currently assembled? Before Parker's injury, it already seemed that Duncan and Parker would have to play out of their skins for the Spurs to beat even the weaker teams. It will take a LOT of effort from Duncan and the supporting cast to just stay afloat now while TP and Manu are out, meaning that a monumental effort will be required just to make the playoffs. Even if they manage that, what kind of shape are they going to be if they've had to play at 100 percent for two-thirds of the season? For some reason, this team increasingly reminds me of the 2002-03 Lakers. Capable of getting it done on a given night but undermined by early season injuries, an aging and increasingly unproductive supporting cast and too much to do over the second half of the season.
Can't completely agree with you, although I hear what you're saying on the 2002-03 comparison. Going four weeks without Parker and who knows how much longer without Manu, I agree, can't be good for Duncan and a supporting cast, to put it mildly, in transition. But as bleak as the Spurs' current predicament looks, it's also true that Tony and Timmy were looking as good as they ever have before Parker's injury. It?s a touch early, then, to be writing off the now or the later. Tony has clearly found a way to raise his game another notch. Duncan looks far more fresh and spry than many skeptics expected now that he's 32. With a big free-agent score in 2010, why couldn't the most successful trio in the league today go on a new run?
Why has more not been made out of an incredibly TERRIBLE supporting cast that the Spurs have. Who is running that team? Players 4 through 15 have to be the worst in the history of the NBA.
You're underselling Roger Mason, who was a good pickup and would be even better with a healthy trio of stars around him. You're also underselling how all the parts fit around Timmy, Tony and Manu when everyone is healthy.
Why isn't Bobby Brown in David Thorpe's top 50 rankings? Does he dislike Fullerton grads?
Don't worry. I will be asking him.
What about on the Wallace front? Are the Bobcats inflating the interest level for him or are teams interested? What about the talk of a 3-way between GS-CHA-NY?
We covered this in the Weekend Dime. Three-way doesn't work with those teams. Neither New York nor Golden State is prepared to take on Gerald Wallace's contract.
What's your impression of Derrick Rose?
My impression is the same as everyone's impression. Impossible not to be impressed so far. That said, I think you can already make the case that Rookie of the Year is going to be one of the great award races in some time. Mayo, Beasley, Rudy F . . . all these guys have big roles, too. Mayo is right there with Rose.
Hollz mentioned that Bosh could jump ship to a Texas team in '10... I know this is WAY way out there at this point, but could that be the (tentative and long-term) plan in SA? Moving TD to the 5 "officially" and bringing in Bosh?
Bosh is from Dallas and obviously the Mavs and Spurs would love to have him. Along with pretty much every other cap-room team in the summer of 2010. I feel for my friends in Toronto. You're starting to hear Bosh mentioned as a free-agent target almost as much as LeBron. But the real reason I answered this question was the "Hollz" reference. Is that what the kids are calling Hollinger these days?
Do I factor into the Sixth Man of the Year award race?
Hope so. Since you're the guy I picked to win it before the season.
Hi Marc, I want to know your thoughts about Lebron leaving to play overseas. Do you see that happening?
(There's my Thorpe impression for the guy who asked why I don't answer as many questions as DT.)
Dude. When did New York become a basketball Mecca? Chicago or maybe LA, or Boston. Not New York, bro.
I think this is a reference to something I wrote in the Weekend Dime. Unless I'm totally misremembering the story, isn't it Michael Jordan who refers to MSG as the "Mecca of Basketball?" My next question: Isn't MSG in NYC?
I thought you didn't answer as many questions as Thorpe because, with your two-finger typing approach, it'd take about five hours for you to answer as many questions. Zing!
I type with about four fingers. Style all my own.
Hi! For the last few years, every preseason, we hear stories about this being the year that the Rockets win it all. Usually it's because of some supposedly great addition that will push them over the top: Battier, Scola, Artest, Barry etc. Every year it ends the same. Isn't it time somebody shouted, "The king is naked"? They will not make it! Yao's body is not made for a 100-game season. T-Mac is not a franchise player, if that franchise dreams of contending. Artest is less predictable than roulette -- on and off the court -- and the role players aren't good enough to compensate for it all. Sorry Houston fans, but it's a first-round exit again. BTW . . . Are you afraid of Man City going the Knicks' way? Owners with tons of money and no clue how to build a team? They're like, what, 15th in the league now?
A) Simmons writes that on our site about the Rockets every week. B) If you want to write off this Rockets team after seven games, go for it. C) I think three points separate the 10th and 20th-placed sides in the Premiership right now. D) Don't worry about City and all our money. We'll be fine. We had money for one day in the transfer window and came away with Robinho. What do you think will happen when we have a whole month to line up targets?
Fip Murray has looked really impressive, bring sparks off the bench for the Hawks in the first five games.Is this for real? I seem to remember a hot streak for him early on with the Sonics two or three years ago, too.
I've had the same thoughts. Murray is shooting about 84 percent from the field when I've had the Hawks on LeaguePass so far, but he's got to do it for a full season. It's not a coincidence that he hasn't been able to stick with one team. That said, Atlanta has been a G-R-E-A-T story. We'll see how they handle this Josh Smith injury, but if you're a Hawks fan you should find Stephen A's recent sitdown with the Boston Big Three and hear how the Celts' stars talk about Atlanta and the playoff atmosphere there. Very interesting.
What's more embarrasing? Fulham with more points than City in the Premiership standings? Or the poor effort showed so far by the Avery-free Mavs?
Mavs, by far, have been the bigger disappointment. A lot of City's problems have been circumstantial and if you want to give me another hour I'll regale you with more rationalizations than you can count. For Dallas, how both Carlisle and Dirk would feel the need to come out and rip the team's effort before 10 games are played is mind-boggling.
What's up, Marc? What you think about Iverson wearing my number? I guess being a champ and an NBA Finals MVP doesn't get a number retired anymore.
Got more than a few emails along these lines. Aren't we having this conversation a little too soon. I don't think Iverson wearing No. 1 means it won't be retired in Chauncey's honor someday down the road. But I suppose I'll have to look into this one more closely.
What's up with the Mavs? Is it me, or did they get old overnight? Headed to the world famous Bob's Steak & Chop House tonight. What should I order?
Already answered a Mavs question. As for your important question . . . Blue Cheese Salad, 12 Oz. New York Strip, Onion Rings . . . as many as you can stomach.
We'll continue this dialogue next week. Thanks for partaking.