The NBA has played a whole week of basketball, and thanks to the compressed schedule we've had a few games more than we would have in most seasons. It's time for me to pick what I'll call the NBA Geeks of the Week. Sort of the all-geek team. NOTE: I wrote this article before Sunday's games because I want to consider just the games in the first 7 days.
Player of the Week: LeBron James
Yeah, this was easy. LeBron has been a monster so far, producing 1.7 wins in 4 games, on 66% true shooting and with insane defensive numbers (averaging more than twice as many blocks and steals as the average SF while fouling a lot less). Even by his lofty standards (he's always in the top 5 of all NBA players in WP48), he's been absolutely incredible. Fun fact: I could have drafted him in my fantasy league's auction draft but I thought that having enough money to get 3 good players (which ended up being Rose, Bosh, Randolph) would be better than having one fantastic player. Yeah, that decision was every bit as stupid as you are thinking it was.
Rookie of the Week: Ricky Rubio
Holy cow am I happy that Rubio appears to be the real thing. I jokingly called him the rookie of the year recently but if he keeps up numbers like this...damn, he will be, actually. Rubio produced 0.6 wins with a WP48 of .335 over 85 minutes. In fact, he was so good that he eclipsed Kevin Love (who had a rough week, by his standards) as the best Timberwolf! Jon Leuer was in fact much more spectacular than Rubio, but I gave Rubio the nod because Leuer only played 43 minutes (good coaching there, huh?) and well, you know, sample size. Here were the candidates:
As you can see, Leuer was indeed spectacular in his 43 minutes, basically shooting and rebounding the hell out of the ball, blocking shots, picking off passes, and rarely turning it over. Seems like the kind of thing that would make me want to give him a little more burn to see if it's the real thing, right, coach? Rubio will likely thank Mr. Skiles in his award-acceptance speech.
Rubio's main strengths are his exceptional passing (he's 4th in the league in per48-assists. No, not rookies, the league) and rebounding (he's 6th among point guards in rebounding), and the fact that he doesn't take bad shots (who said this guy can't shoot?). His turnovers are a bit high, but the good news is that this isn't really because he makes bad decisions; you rarely catch him doing the nonsense that Timberwolves fans have grown accustomed to from their point guards, like picking up the dribble too early, driving mindlessly to the hoop without knowing what to do when the inevitable help defender comes over, trying passes from impossible angles (although his passing skill does give him wider angles than most). No, most of his turnovers have come from being double- or triple-teamed by big athletic wing men named "James" or "Wade". In other words, he'll probably need some time to get used to just how big and fast NBA defenders are compared to European players, after which he'll get a better feel for what won't work in this league, and I expect those turnovers to come down. One thing that fans need not worry about is his handle or his speed -- he's way ahead of the pack on both of those, which is why he looks spectacular in the pick-and-roll; he's great at splitting the double-team if the help defender traps, and he'll run circles around bigs that don't show hard.
The AllGeek Team:
Point Guard: Ty Lawson was a scoring machine shooting 66% from the field. Lawson's play was so good that no one seems to be noticing that Galinari has been terrible. But I gave the nod this week to Kyle Lowry. Both were great, but Lowry's greatness was more "traditional" for point guards, racking up insane assist numbers, getting to the line a lot (more than Lawson, on far fewer shots), and putting up spectacular rebound numbers for a PG.
Shooting Guard: I suspected this would be James Harden's break-out year, and things are looking great so far. Harden produced 1.1 wins in 153 minutes by crushing the average 2 guard in every category but 3-point shooting. He had nearly as many free throws as field goal attempts, which is insane.
Small Forward: We've already covered our starter, LeBron, but my 6th man this week is Manu, who probably would have won player of the week if he'd had more minutes. Manu's shooting efficiency was off the charts last week. There was simply no more efficient scorer in the NBA, and he managed to dish out quite a few assists along the way, all while putting up his usual above-average defensive numbers.
Power Forward: Man was I surprised that this wasn't Kevin Love. Ryan Andersen...well, let's be honest, he didn't do a ton of stuff but he just shot the hell out of the ball. 43% from downtown is pretty good efficiency from your power forward, and it's also nice that he pretty much never turned the ball over. His other numbers were not that great though, so I don't predict he'll be in the Geeks of the Week very often. Honorable mentions to Love and Kris Humphries.
Center: What can one say about Dwight Howard, other than....wait, Spencer Hawes!? What the hell? Yeah, turns out Howard had sort of an off week, with a WP48 of only .340 (slacker) and Hawes...well...I think congress should be gearing up for the inevitable steroids inquisition. Hawes rebounded like Kevin Love (he can DO that? Why doesn't he do that all the time!?), and shot like Hakeem Olajuwon...wait, he shot like the Dream probably shoots when the Dream is dreaming. 70% FG are you kidding me? How did he not get to the line more? Hack-a-Hawes should have become a tactic at some point. And, oh yeah, he was passing the rock like Larry Bird out there, and swatting shots like flies! What the hell has he been eating in the off season?
It was a fun week looking at the numbers, I look forward to doing this every week. Let me know if I missed your favorites in the comments.