NBA Superstar League: Dirk’s back

February 10, 2012

By Jack Maidment

Week 5. Here. We. Go.

1. Dirk Nowitzki: DEN, CLE, IND. It may have taken almost two months, but old Dirk’s back. The Mavericks did lose two of their last three (CLE, IND) but Dirk’s performances are cause for great optimism as he looks to regain the form which granted him the Finals MVP trophy and an NBA championship. He has had at least 24 points in each of the last three, shooting considerably better than 50% from the floor and only missing two at the charity stripe. The Mavs are starting to ramp it up. Plus 10.

2. Kobe Bryant: BOS, PHI, UTA. Going past Shag for 5th all-time in scoring and beating the old enemy this week is enough to vault Kobe from 6th to 2nd. The Lakers lost two of their last three but Bryant was good in all three games. He can only do so much with the current LA squad. They need a trade. Meanwhile Kobe will continue on, just like he’s done for the last 16 years.

3. Dwight Howard: MIA, LAC, IND. Howard was 9th last week, mainly because writing about the poisoned Magic season makes me feel ill. But credit where credit is due, Dwight has been excellent this week. The Magic had two wins (MIA, IND) and a tough loss (85-81 LAC) and Howard had games of 25-24 (MIA) 33-14 with 4 stocks (LAC) and 27-8 with 5 stocks (IND). There is a reason why teams want Howard.

4. Kevin Durant: SAC, GSW, POR. Durant’s Thunder lost to the Kings this week in the type of game they will have to get used to. As the model young franchise you better believe all the other young teams want to upstage Oklahoma on national television. The truth is good teams will lose 3-5 games like this a year – continually having to deal with team’s spiking their effort levels just for you is tiring. Slips one.

5. LeBron James: ORL, CLE, TOR. LeBron was top dog last week, but after two great performances against bad teams (CLE, TOR) he slipped a little against a slightly better Orlando team in a 89-102 loss. He was 5-15 from the floor against the Magic, scoring 17 points. He did everything else he normally does (10 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) but his points were down in a rivalry game which is hardly superstar behaviour. Just saying. In other LeBron news, this made me laugh.

6. LaMarcus Aldridge: HOU, OKC, DEN. Despite losing their last two and sliding to 9th in the Western Conference, LA makes it to 6th because of his performance against the Thunder. 39-6-3 and 11-11 from the stripe are superstar numbers and the loss was narrow – 107-111. Aldridge has been consistently very good this year with occasional explosions and as soon as the rest of his team put it together again the Blazers will be very good like they were at the start of January. Up one.

7. Chris Paul: CLE, ORL, WAS. Paul had an absolute shocker against the Wizards on February 4, scoring 2 points on 1-8 shooting. Urgh. Luckily Washington’s so bad it didn’t matter as the Clippers rolled to victory. He was infinitely better against the Magic with 29-7-8 and that’s the kind of production the Clips will need in the backcourt now that Chauncey Billups has been lost for the season.

8. Kevin Love: HOU. As a kid I remember a few things my mum used to say whenever I was acting up. One of her favourites was ‘only donkeys kick’. Guess Kevin Love didn’t learn that lesson. He kinda stood/stamped on Luis Scola on February 4 and was subsequently banned two games (one win, one loss). It happens in football. It’s cool in UFC. It shouldn’t happen in basketball. Falls four.

9. Derrick Rose: NOH, NJN, MIL. Rose has struggled this week with back spasms (insert ‘carrying city on his back’ joke here) but the calibre of the Bulls’ opponents has given him a chance for a little rest; he played just 22 minutes against the Hornets and 11 against the Nets. Bulls have won their last four and have the best record in the league. For the fist time in a long while their dominance is not strictly because of Rose. Down four.

10. Carmelo Anthony. Injured. Knicks win three straight. Riddles.

The NBA Superstar League is a weekly statistical snapshot, out every Friday, ranking ten of the best players in the league.

Our 10: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James/Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge.

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NBA Superstar League: LeBron over Durant

February 3, 2012

By Jack Maidment

A weekly statistical snapshot, out every Friday, ranking ten of the best players in the league.

Our 10: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James/Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge.

Let’s get to it.

Week 4.

1. LeBron James: MIL, NOH, CHI. Last week James was third in the Superstar League and I was worried his performance might drop this week with the return of Dwyane Wade. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. I should never have worried because LeBron has been big this week. 40-8-5 against the Bucks (L), 22-11-8 against the Hornets (W), 35-11-5 against the Bulls (W) (ridiculously good game – League Pass it if you missed). Back on top.

2. Kevin Durant: DAL, LAC, GSW. It’s been another good week for Durant with two wins (DAL, GSW) and a loss (LAC). Three good to very good teams and KD has been superb against each to the point where I’m not sure what more he could have done to help OKC. Against the Warriors he was unconscious from the field making all 11 of his field goals for 37-14 on the night. And that’s been the other story for Durant – his rebounding. He has at least 13 boards in each of his last three. Slight drop, but my goodness he is playing well.

3. Chris Paul: DEN, UTA, OKC. CP3 definitely wants his All-World point guard title belt back. Since returning from injury Paul has been getting the Clippers rolling and that means lots of assists and lots of dribble penetration. When Paul gets in the lane good things happen and when he hits from outside he is unplayable. I particularly enjoyed his 34-11 game against the Jazz. Up.

4. Kevin Love: IND, HOU, LAL. Similar week to last week for Love and the Timberwolves who have been doing the whole one step forward two steps back routine. His performances have not quite been on a par with his heroics 7 days ago, but even so, aside from struggling from the field against the Pacers, Love has been playing well. Down slightly.

5. Derrick Rose: NYK, PHI, WAS. The maths is simple for the Chicago Bulls at this stage of the season: In the absence of their second best player their fortunes are almost totally reliant on their All-World point guard. Luol Deng does so much for this team and it will be up to Rose to pick up the slack (although he could be back very soon). He’s been trying his very best with two wins against two bad teams (NYK, WAS) hovering around 32 and 10 in those while experiencing a beat down at the hands of a very good and very deep Philadelphia. He was 4th last week and he is good for about the same this week.

6. Kobe Bryant: CHA, MIN, MIL. He was number six last week and he is good for that this week. Two wins (CHA, MIN) and one loss against the Bucks, all with Kobe taking a lot of shots and a lot of three point shots (2-11 against the Bobcats). Good or bad, Kobe has been willing the Lakers to wins.

7. LaMarcus Aldridge: SAC, CHA, UTA. There is something strange going on in Portland. The Trailblazers are slumping, especially on the road, but LA is still playing reasonably well, doing his consistent thing. Consistency is nice, but so is winning. Down 8.

8. Carmelo Anthony: CHI, DET, CLE. Absolute nightmare last week, so it couldn’t have got much worse. One win this week over Detroit and the Knicks still suck but at least Carmelo got his touch back with 25 and 26 points. He is going to need some wins, WINS, to go up any further.

9. Dwight Howard: WAS, PHI, IND. Urgh. The situation in Orlando is turning toxic. Just trade him now. Down. Again.

10. Dirk Nowitzki: OKC, PHX, SAS. Something’s wrong with Dirk. Dallas is struggling to find an identity and having to fit Lamar Odom into the mix is proving difficult but the big German has been off ever since the start of the season. Nobody in the Superstar League is playing themselves into shape like Dirk. He was already down in the basement and he I staying there.


NBA Superstar League: Durant by a distance

January 27, 2012

By Jack Maidment

A weekly statistical snapshot, out every Friday, ranking ten of the best players in the league.

Our 10: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James/Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge.

Let’s get to it.

Week 3.

1. Kevin Durant: NOH, DET, NJN. It was only a matter of time before Durantula made it to the top of the NBA Superstar League (5th last week). His Oklahoma City Thunder have won their last three and have the NBA’s best record at 15-3. KD had games of 25-7-4, 20-5-2 and 20-15-3 this week and he is the main reason OKC is looking like the best bet to come out of the West.

2. Kevin Love: DAL, HOU, UTA. New contract, same player. Nobody in the league is doing more to help his team win than Love who is top five in both rebounding and scoring. The Wolves did lose twice this week (Houston, Utah) but that’s to be expected. They are young and going through the same learning-to-win process experienced by the Oklahoma City Thunder two years ago. More than that they downed the champs in Dallas behind 31-10 from Love who was 4-6 from three. Can he do anything more?

3. LeBron James: DET, CLE, MIL. He was number one last week and he has continued his strong play in the absence of Dwyane Wade. Two wins and a loss to Milwaukee (urgh), but good James games them all. In each he had at least 5 assists as he sought to set the table for the whole team. He is a joy to watch at the moment. The question is, will things change when Flash returns?

4. Derrick Rose: IND, NJN, TOR. Rose was effectively exempt from the Superstar League last week due to injury but he has come back strong after two wins and a loss, all without Luol Deng who has caught the prevalent Bulls injury bug. Yes the wins were against bad teams (Nets, Raptors) but you can only play who is in front of you. Rose has Chicago tops in the East with a 16-4 overall record, 8-2 in their last 10. For the Bulls to carry on with that pace without Deng it will mean Rose giving even more for the cause. And he will. Rise.

5. LaMarcus Aldridge: GSW, MEM, SAC. The Blazers are slumping a little of late, 4-6 last 10, and LA has struggled with consistency but two wins and a loss this week should help steady the ship.

6. Kobe Bryant: LAC, IND, ORL. KB24 fell from 1st to 7th last week as the Lakers struggled to score. They are the league’s third best defense according to the numbers but the other end of the floor has been a problem, especially for the bench where production has been virtually non-existent. However, the Lakers snapped their skid on Wednesday night with a marquee win in a chippy game against the Clippers. Kobe threw the ball away 7 times but was successful in sharing the ball, especially early on, dishing 6 assists to go with his 24 points. He stays put, give or take one or two.

7. Chris Paul: MEM, LAL. CP3 has only just returned from a hamstring injury and this week we learned he doesn’t like people touching his head. Aside from that Paul gave us a demonstration of how to control a game by passing with his 4 points 12 assists against the Lakers. He drops but fitness and lack of activity is mainly responsible.

8. Dwight Howard: BOS, IND, BOS. Dwight Howard had a bad week with two awful losses against the Celtics, begging the question: is the trade speculation (this week the Knicks) getting to Dwight? Probably not. It’s more about the team he’s on and the relative lack of help he receives. If he doesn’t do it, who else will? The Celtics embarrassed the Magic and Howard twice this week. Good enough for a four place drop.

9. Carmelo Anthony: CLE, CHA, DEN. Uh-oh. 17 games into the season and there are already calls for the Knicks to blow up the roster and trade one of their stars. Carmelo was bottom of the Superstar League last week and he deserves to be there this week too. In their last 8 games, the Knicks have won 1, lost 7, the lone victory coming against the Charlotte Bobcats. Melo scored 1 point. Man. If he could be lower than 9th he would be.

10. Dirk Nowitzki. Has not played in almost 10 days due to injury and a terrible haircut, hence the fall.


NBA Superstar League: LeBron James surging

January 20, 2012

By Jack Maidment

A weekly statistical snapshot, out every Friday, ranking ten of the best players in the league.

Our 10: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James/Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge.

Let’s get to it.

Week 2.

1. LeBron James: LAL, SAS, DEN. No Wade, no worries for King James this week who has upped his production in just about every category in the absence of The Flash. Last week he was dead last in the Superstar League after suffering from the line and losing two games. But this week he has been back to his best, grabbing two wins out of three tough games, averaging more than 30 points each night as well as a handful of other statistical goodness. Anything and everything the Heat needed he has delivered. From last to first.

2. Kevin Love: DET, SAC, ATL. The double-double machine is on the rise (he was 9th last week) and so are the Wolves who are finally remembering/learning what winning in the NBA means. Two wins in the last three against admittedly not great teams, but a win is a win and all that. He has had 30-13, 33-11 and 20-17 in the last week and he is pretty much a lock for the All-Star game. Join the Love Train while there is room.

3. Chris Paul: LAL. Has only played once this week due to injury but the game he played against the Lakers was an absolute masterpiece. He controlled the game and scored almost at will powering the Clippers to a big time win. 33-4-6 with just one turnover in a rivalry game? Good for a rise I think. Up one.

4. Dwight Howard: SAS, CHA, NYK. He was third last week after racking up three wins. Not quite so good this week with two wins and a loss to the Spurs, but still, he is winning games for a bad Magic team. No fireworks this week, but solid.

5. Kevin Durant: WAS, BOS, NYK. Two wins against two teams struggling for an identity and a loss to a team just, well, struggling, is not good enough to keep Durant in second place this week. You can’t lose to Washington and stay that high, not matter how many points you score.

6. LaMarcus Aldridge: ATL, NOH, HOU. Last week LA was in at 7th and he is probably good for about the same this week. His play is solid without being stellar with his Blazers suffering two losses in the last three. He has put up about 22-10 the past week but if Portland is going to make the leap with Aldridge as the man they probably need a little bit more from him. Not masses, but at least a little.

7. Kobe Bryant: MIA, DAL, LAC. Kobe was number one last week after scoring more than 100 points in three games and powering the Lakers to three wins, but it looks like the schedule has caught up with the mamba who is still playing well, but not like the man possessed he was last week. The teams he faced this week were all tough but two losses is not going to sit well with Kobe, especially against the noisy neighbours and the Heat. Down.

8. Dirk Nowitzki: UTA, LAC, LAL. He was in sixth last week after winning three in a row but not playing particularly well, but the Mavericks lost twice in Los Angeles this week, once against the Lakers and once against the Clippers. His play has continued to be sporadic and he put up just 12 points against the Utah Jazz in a win. Drops.

9. Carmelo Anthony: PHX, ORL, MEM. Three losses and Melo has been bad in all of them, struggling from the floor in the wake of injury troubles. The Knicks just are not playing well right now. Down 1.

10. Derrick Rose: Day to day with a left toe sprain and has not taken the floor since a gritty win over the Raptors on January 14. He is down, but he will be back.


NBA Superstar League: The reign of Kobe

January 13, 2012

Kobe starts off #1

By Jack Maidment

NBA Superstar League: A weekly statistical snapshot, out every Friday, ranking ten of the best players in the league.

Play well and your team wins, you move up the table. If you suck, lose or moan about team mates, you move down. Simple.

The ten are in place for this season with LeBron/Wade counting as one person.

Our 10: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James/Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge.

Let’s get to it.

Week 1.

1. Kobe Bryant: UTA, PHX, MEM. Three wins. More than 100 points scored. Nine total turnovers. At least 38 minutes played each game. Kobe is the superstar playing the best right now. It’s not even close. He is on a tear. Number one.

2. Kevin Durant: NOH, MEM, SAS. Three wins against two and a half good teams and lots of work from Durant. He has done a lot of everything this week, 29-3-10 with 4 blocks against New Orleans, 22-5-11 going 8-8 from the line against the Grizzlies and 21-7-10, 10-10 from the line against the Spurs. He has been doing what superstars do. Just win.

3. Dwight Howard: GSW, POR, SAC. Three good wins for a bad Magic team and Dwight did what he had to do to grab the Ws. He put up 45 and 23(!) against the Warriors who made him shoot 39(!) free throws to earn them, the most in NBA history.

4. Chris Paul: MIA, POR, MIL. Two wins and a loss to Portland. Huge win against the Heat in which he had 26-11-6 and three steals. Forgettable games against the Blazers and Bucks, but on the strength of his performance against Miami, Paul deserves his fourth place spot.

5. Derrick Rose: MIN, DET, ATL. Two wins and a loss. He put up 31 and 11 on Minnesota and 22 and 8 on the Pistons, both wins. He struggled against the Hawks, scoring just 8 with 6 assists in a tough loss. He outdueled Ricky Rubio, did what he had to do against Detroit and went 3-10 against the Hawks. A mediocre week by the MVP’s standard. But the Bulls are 10-2. He’ll move up next week.

6. Dirk Nowitzki: BOS, DET, NOH. A shadow of who he was last season but three wins nonetheless. He scored just 10 on 2-11 shooting against New Orleans before picking it up against hapless Detroit. He’s not Dirk right now, but he is getting there, and wins are wins.

7. LaMarcus Aldridge: ORL, LAC, CLE. A loss against a reasonably good Magic team and two wins against the Clippers and Cavaliers. He has been solid, if not stellar, and averaged about 22 and 8 in the last three. All he needs to move up further are a few big nights with marquee wins.

8. Carmelo Anthony: MEM, PHI, CHA. He put up 14 before spraining his ankle against Memphis and 27 and 22 the two games before. The Knicks had won four in a row before losing to the Grizzlies, but are 5-5 in their last 10, so hopefully his Knicks are starting to figure it out.

9. Kevin Love: CHI, TOR, WAS. Two losses and a win. Minnesota’s PF has struggled mightily this week. He went 5-18 from the field against the Bulls, 3-16 against the Raptors (both losses) and 7-16 in a win over the Wizards. He has less talent to work with than most of the other guys on this list, but still, he hasn’t played well the last three.

10. LeBron James: LAC, GSW, NJN. Two losses and a win. He was 9-17 from the stripe in a loss to the Clippers. His line was 23-7-13 but the free throws in the fourth quarter killed his team. In a loss to the Warriors he had 26-7-11. His best performance was reserved for a win against the horrible Nets who he torched for 32-9-7. Superstars win games when it matters. This week he didn’t.