By Jack Maidment
The Week’s Best
@LeBron James. On January 19th the Miami Heat faced off on national television for a much-hyped match up with Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James used the sizeable spotlight to remind everyone just what it means to be the best basketball player in the world.
The Heat didn’t have Wade, but it’s not like anyone noticed as LeBron played the most complete game of the season. He had 31 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks. He scored, he made his teammates better, he impacted the game defensively, he made Kobe look old. In short, he did everything. Follow that with 2 out of 3 wins this week and LeBron has served a reminder to the rest of the NBA: The king isn’t back, he never left.
@Chandler Parsons. Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets GM once said whoever invented the box score should be shot; there is more to basketball than points, rebounds and assists. Chandler Parsons, the 38th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, is doing a good job of making Morey’s point for him.
The forward out of Florida has stolen the starting small forward for the Rockets after one month in the league which is quite an achievement for a guy so under-the-radar he doesn’t even have a profile photo on the NBA website at the moment.
It is easy to see why he is enjoying early success because his energy level and I’m-going-to-make-a-play determination scream at you every time he plays. Need an offensive rebound? Parsons is crashing the boards like a mad man. Need a loose ball? Parsons doesn’t mind flinging his body around for the team. Need a steal down the stretch? Parsons. You get the idea.
If you want some help deciding who to watch on League Pass this week, I urge you to check out Minnesota-Houston. You will see what I mean.
@Rudy Gay. There is a phrase spoken often in the NFL: ‘Next Man Up’. It’s the title of a rather wonderful book and speaks to the need for other guys to fill in when their teammates go down. Rudy Gay has read this book.
After missing the playoffs last year due to injury and watching Zach Randolph power the Memphis Grizzlies to the brink in the second round, Gay is looking to return the favour as Z-Bo sits out after suffering a serious knee injury.
Gay has been the Next Man Up and the team has looked to him to be The Man. He has gladly accepted.
In the two games the Grizzlies won this week Gay was huge. His 23-9-4 and 5 stocks against the Warriors almost qualifies as art. In the game they lost against a good Portland team Gay was a little quieter and Memphis struggled. They go as Gay goes and because of that they should be just fine.
@Kyle Lowry. Kevin Martin. I know choosing two in the same slot is cheating, but given the Houston Rockets win by committee I figure their backcourt can count as one in the Starting Five. Before you say it (Three Rockets in one Starting Five?!), just hush.
This past week no team has been better than Houston and that’s official. The team with no star players is on a seven game winning streak and much of their success can be attributed to Lowry and Martin.
Lowry (hovering around triple double in his last three games) has been a revelation setting the table for everything the Rockets do, while Martin has accepted his role as the Rockets number one scorer. They both deserve to be here.
@Danilo Gallinari. The Denver Nuggets are 12-5, have won four in a row and are currently second in the Western Conference. They are another team winning by committee (like Houston and Indiana) but Gallinari is their best player. He had 37-11 against the Knicks in his last game and the night before put up 21-4-5 against the Wizards.