The Week in the NBA
by Strike Point Sports - 11/02/2006
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Lakers strong out of the gate minus Kobe, breakout stars are ripe for the big stage and parity's highest level makes picking winners a tough uphill challenge. All this and more this week in the NBA review.
Finally we've seen the Lakers as a team. Not Kobe chucking 40 shots a game, but a full unit working cohesively and starting the '06 season 2-0. With Bryant out with his knee still rehabbing, many of Los Angeles' other players have gotten the chance to shine. Lamar Odom is already a proven player but his all-around game has blossomed with the ball in his hand. Nineteen-year-old Andrew Bynum is playing like a six-or seven-year veteran, scoring 18 in the opener against the Suns while Ronny Turiaf came off the bench to score 23 on Wednesday against the Warriors.
For the few that did back the Lakers without its superstar, they were rewarded. Los Angeles is not only 2-0 to start the season but they have also covered two large spreads by winning outright. They overcame a 19-point deficit in the first quarter to Phoenix and covered a spread of 8. In their second game the Lakeshow were 7.5 underdogs but outscored Golden State by 20 in the second half to improve to 2-0 ATS.
Each year several breakout stars emerge in this league and set the table for both their individual careers while helping their teams improve in the process. Here are a few that will be baby boomers in 2006-07.
Dwight Howard | Orlando Magic
2004's overall first pick is turning into the premier big man in the Eastern Conference. At 6'11'', 240, Howard is only 20 but has raised his game to an unreal level. Last year he averaged a double-double but in '06 his numbers will only increase. If Wednesday's performance against Ben Wallace and the Bulls (27 points, 11 rebounds) was any indication, watch out Miami.
Jameer Nelson | Orlando Magic
While Dwight Howard is the man in the middle for the Magic, his point guard is just as much the centerpiece for the franchise. Nelson is 24 and came into the league as a first rounder as well in 2004. Dominating in the college level at St. Joe's this silky smooth floor leader knows how to win and has the game to do so. Coming into this season he was averaging eleven points and four assists. This year those numbers should almost double. In Wednesday's opener he dropped 21 points with four rebounds and three assists in the home victory over Chicago.
David West | New Orleans Hornets
A proven college scorer at Xavier, David West comes into his fourth season ready to explode with the help of point guard Chris Paul. Over his first three years he scored ten points and six boards per contest but this year starting at the four Mr. West will be on the verge of All-Star status. His opener saw signs of that with 18 points and 8 rebounds against the Celtics on Wednesday.
Brandon Roy | Portland Trailblazers
Yours truly labeled the rookie from Washington as the most ready NBA player prior to the draft. Inserted into the starting lineup in game one on Wednesday against the Sonics, Roy came through and showed exactly what he brings to the table. At 6'6'', 210, he is a bigger version of Dwayne Wade, not as explosive but a better shooter. His first game in the pros witnessed him score 20 points and that form will be a consistent sight this year in Portland.
The first full schedule of games has concluded and this year the NBA will be a flip-flopping tirade of trying to predict winners. On Wednesday the underdogs won half of the games and were 8-4 ATS. Playing everyday, teams who are expected to win simply don't. Five games had a spread of more than seven, but the favorites not only failed to cover that number in three of those five, but they lost those three outright.
One could take this and think betting with the points each time will turn out winners more than not. However it also seems that blowouts are playing into the equation just as much. On Wednesday five games were won by double digits while two more winners had leads of more than 20 before they won by a smaller margin. As we all witnessed when the Heat got rolled up by Chicago, if you don't come out and play any given team will be glad to win big and show no mercy in doing so. And we've seen this by the Lakers win against the Suns. Not one lead is safe, in the NBA everyone makes a run.