Just How Good Can Emerging Star Jimmy Butler Be for the Chicago Bulls?

The Chicago Bulls have unexpectedly held their own early on in the NBA season despite the injuries to Derrick Rose. Pau Gasol has been playing better than expected, but the biggest surprise might be Jimmy Butler’s rise as a legitimate scoring option for the Bulls.

How has Chicago handled all of Rose’s injuries? What’s Butler’s ceiling with the Bulls? What does Chicago need to improve?

Find out from Steve Aschburner of NBA.com as he plays “finish the sentence” with Stephen Nelson in the video above. 

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Breaking Down Just How Good Kentucky Basketball Can Be in 2014-15

Hype is a volatile element in college basketball. It can propel programs to success or pressure them into mediocrity.

With the Kentucky Wildcats, it has become an inevitable component that comes with being a blue-blood program, and this year is no different.

Expectations are perhaps higher than ever for head coach John Calipari and his team for the upcoming season, and it’s hard to hush down the noise surrounding this year’s Wildcats when there are nine former McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster. 

So the question now is no longer about whether the Wildcats will be a good team, but just how good of a team can they be?

Per ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf, Larry Brown, the Hall of Famer and head coach for SMU, claimed Kentucky’s roster is so deep that it can make up both the No. 1 and No. 2 team in the country and go 45-0.

Meanwhile, Chris Briggs, the head coach for a Georgetown College team that lost to Kentucky by the score of 121-52 in exhibition, said in a postgame press conference (via Sporting News) that the Wildcats “could have beaten some NBA teams” with the type of performance they put up against his team.

Calipari knows how good his team is, but he also knows these comparisons can be blown out of proportion.

No one knows if Kentucky can top an NBA team, and frankly, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that does is if the Kentucky can top every other team in college. And by the way things look, it certainly can.

The sky is the limit this year for the Wildcats. How to get there, though, is what they need to figure out. Here is a look at what they have to work with.

 

Backcourt

When the Harrison twins made the surprising decision to return to Lexington for their sophomore seasons, they immediately put Kentucky back into the title talk again. 

Andrew, the point guard, is looking to shake off an inconsistent freshman season, and by dropping some weight and improving his overall game, he is poised to do just that.

As for Aaron, the shooting guard who broke the hearts of Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin with his clutch shots during last year’s NCAA tournament, he joined his brother in the dieting and should be able to provide the just the same (if not better) type of production this season. 

Below are the highlights from Kentucky’s Blue-White scrimmage game last month, and they offer just some glimpses of what the twins are capable of doing.

As good as the Harrison twins are, Calipari will still need some depth to support them as well. The freshmen Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker should give the Wildcats just that. 

Ulis, though a diminutive guard at 5’9”, is an excellent passer with a decent shooting touch and relentless defensive effort. He should provide some energy and be a spark plug for Kentucky’s second unit if Calipari indeed decides to stick with the platoon system.

Booker was touted as one of the best shooters in his recruiting class, and he can provide the outside scoring that Kentucky lacked for most parts of last season. With the Wildcats also lacking a true wing player, Booker can be moved around with his 6’6” height and give Calipari some options as well.

Not to be forgotten in the backcourt is sophomore Dominique Hawkins, who is capable of shutting down any player on the defensive end whenever Calipari asks him to.

Together, the five guards give the Wildcats everything a team needs in the backcourt to be a successful team. Expect Kentucky to dictate the pace of every game because of this advantage.

 

Frontcourt 

With seven players listed at 6’8” or taller, Kentucky undoubtedly has the best size out of any team in the country. 

Dakari Johnson and Willie Cauley-Stein top that list as a pair of 7-footers, and that allows Calipari to experiment with plenty of different rotations.

Cauley-Stein is one of the best rim protectors in the country (2.9 BPG last year), and Johnson should slowly but surely develop into one as well with an increase in minutes this season.

As for the power forward position, Calipari will have the luxury of trying out a couple of potential All-Americans in Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles.

Alex Poythress, the 6’8” junior, can be thrown in the mix as well, but the heights of Towns (6’11”) and Lyles (6’10”) give Kentucky the best size advantage at the 4.

Towns has perhaps the most complete skill set out of any power forward in the country. He has guard-like ball-handling skills to go along with a smooth shooting touch that can stretch the opposing defense and score from anywhere on the court.

Lyles has a similar type of game but holds an edge down low with his ability to score from the post. Together, these two can complement either Johnson or Cauley-Stein and create an ideal offense-defense combination that is hard to match.

The only position of concern for Kentucky this year is perhaps who Calipari will insert at the wing. He could go with Poythress, a player who is better suited at the 4, or the unproven Marcus Lee and Derek Willis, both of whom did not get much playing time last season as freshmen.

In any regard, Calipari has plenty of options to play around with, but he needs to find a way to create a good team chemistry, especially when dealing with a platoon system, and ensure his players are happy with their given minutes and roles on the team.

After all, these are some former McDonald’s All-Americans who need to adjust to playing with this amount of talent surrounding them. Calipari needs to make sure his players understand these are not two five-men rotations that happen to play on the same team, but 10 to 12 men playing together to find the best way to utilize their talents to win.

 

Schedule 

Kentucky could have easily planned an easy nonconference schedule to steamroll its competition. But Calipari is a competitor, and he wants some early tests for his talented team to see what it would take to remain the last-team standing come early April.

That being said, Kentucky has perhaps the toughest nonconference schedule out of any team in the country this season, with games against Kansas, Texas, UNC, UCLA and Louisville circled on its ledger.

How the Wildcats fare during nonconference play will tell a lot about this team, and should the team undergo some adjustments, those will need to happen in a hurry.

 

Conclusion 

No matter what Calipari said about the praises and hypes surrounding his team, this year’s Wildcats are destined to become national champions.

Some may wonder if they can go undefeated, but that would just be a caveat to what this team can ultimately accomplish.

The Wildcats can easily trip up during their nonconference schedule or stumble against Florida in SEC play, but all that matters is for them to get to Indianapolis for the Final Four this season and have a chance to bring home title No. 9. 

Records won’t mean anything when you bring home a national title—just ask Connecticut. 

There have been three times Kentucky has been ranked at No. 1 to begin a season (1980-81, 1995-96 and 2013-14), but only once did it finish at the same spot at the end of the season (1996).

Championships aren’t won on paper nor through hype, but this year’s Wildcats possess an amount of talent that is unrivaled by any other program.

Of course, college basketball is an unpredictable sport, and anything can happen come tournament time. But at this very moment it is hard to argue against the potential of this year’s Kentucky team and say there is a better team positioned to win the national championship.

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San Antonio Spurs: How good can Kawhi Leonard be?

With a little less than 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s match-up between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers, Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard forced a steal against Clippers star forward Blake Griffin. The steal lead to a fast-break, which finished with Leonard catching an awkward pass up around his temple from teammate Manu Ginobili and laying it in for the Spurs first lead of the game at 83-82. The Spurs would hold on to the lead given to them by Leonard and defeat the Clippers 89-85.
Although this was the key sequence that put the Spurs in control of the game, it was hardly the only instance Monday night in which Leonard displayed the poise, control, and freakish athleticism that made him the NBA’s 2014 Final’s MVP.
Kawhi Leonard is already an NBA finals MVP
With Tim Duncan now in the twilight of his hall of fame career, and with Tony Parker not getting any younger, it’s been made abundantly clear to even the most casual observer of the Spurs, that Kawhi Leonard i

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How Good Can The Greek Freak Be?

Potential is a slippery slope. It is a variable-laden, ticking time bomb.
Too often players are boasted and prodded around as the future of the NBA, and then they end up hovering along the D-League wall.
Then there are players who fly – somewhat – under the radar. They excite with flashes of skill and physical prowess.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has the potential to be the best player in the NBA.

Yes, I said it.
At 6-foot-11, Antetokounmpo has video game like features. He can pass, rebound, defend and shoot. What’s the kicker? He’s only 20 years old.
He busted onto the scene for the Milwaukee Bucks last year and took the reigns of a franchise bottoming out.
So far this season, the “Greek Freak” is only averaging 10 points a game with just less than five rebounds a game.
If he were on any other team – not named the Bucks – he would be improving at a higher rate.
Milwaukee’s attempts to box Antetokounmpo as a point guard may back fire. Photo by Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Antetokounmpo ha…

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The Good, Bad and Ugly from Miami Heat’s Early-Season Results

The Miami Heat have started strong in the first year of their post-LeBron James era.

The Heat have won four of their first six games, giving them the fourth-best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference.

Naturally, there have been many positives to take away from Miami’s fast start. At the same time, the Heat have seen some trends develop in the season’s early goings that they hope won’t continue.

Let’s take a look at it all—the good, bad and ugly from the Heat’s first six games. 

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The Good, Bad and Ugly from Los Angeles Lakers’ Early-Season Results

Five games into the 2014-15 season it’s apparent that nothing good is in store for the Los Angeles Lakers this year.

The team is in full-on crisis mode after dropping their first five contests largely in embarrassing fashion.

Los Angeles is playing hard, led by a determined Kobe Bryant. But given the talent deficiency and the injuries hampering the ball club, it hasn’t been nearly enough against the stiff competition they have faced in the early going.

Let’s take stock of the season’s first 10 days by breaking down what’s been good, bad and ugly with the Lakers so far.

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The Good, Bad and Ugly from the Indiana Pacers’ Early Season

The Indiana Pacers certainly have had their fair share of the good, the bad and the ugly during the early going of the 2014-15 NBA season. 

With a 1-4 record through Nov. 6, it has looked more bad and ugly than good because of a slew of injuries that has hit the team. Adding to Indy’s woes was shooting guard Rodney Stuckey aggravating ”a strained tendon in his left foot” during an 87-81 home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 4, per The Associated Press (via Yahoo Sports). The Pacers’ walking wounded now includes Stuckey, Paul George, David West, George Hill and C.J. Watson. 

Ouch. 

So many casualties often result in struggles on both ends of the court, and the Pacers are no exception. However, something good will come out of these. 

Indiana’s head coach Frank Vogel touched on this issue when he spoke with the Indianapolis Star‘s Candace Buckner in the aftermath of the Pacers’ 96-94 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards on Nov. 5. He said, “It’s a challenge but we’ve got guys who are capable of making basketball plays. They’ve got to come together as a group.” 

In spite of the early-season losses, the decimated Indiana Pacers are no pushovers. At some point, they kept playoff contenders such as the Memphis Grizzlies (13-point lead in the third quarter), Atlanta Hawks (trimmed double-digit deficit to three in the waning moments of the game) and Wizards (lost by two in overtime) on their heels.  

Let’s just hope these trials and tribulations will mold Indiana into an even more competitive team once it is back at full strength. 

 

The Good

In the absence of several key players, the Indiana Pacers have seen three once-forgotten components of last season’s benchChris Copeland, Donald Sloan and Solomon Hillplay their guts out.

Copeland and Sloan, in particular, are two players who took the long road to the NBA. Both went undrafted. Copeland played in Europe from 2007-2012 while Sloan bounced to and from the NBA D-League and played on several 10-day contracts before finally making it to an NBA roster. These two guys have paid their dues. 

Who would ever have guessed that Copeland—who averaged a mere 6.5 minutes of playing time in 2013-14—would be Indy’s leading scorer with a 17.2 points-per-game average on almost 40 percent shooting from deep?

Almost nobody. 

The reason why Copeland is thriving this season is because he’s playing to his main strengthshooting the perimeter jumper. He has a quick release and is never afraid of scoring points in bunches. When you stick to your strengths, good things happen.

It seems that he has also expanded his horizons. Copeland, who’s never been known for his work on the boards, is averaging 7.7 rebounds in November (with a season-high 12 rebounds against Washington). If he can continue to be aggressive in this area, the better it is for the Indiana Pacers.

And then there’s Sloan, who kicked off the 2014-15 NBA season with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists against the Philadelphia 76ers. Most recently, he shocked the world by going off for 31 points while matched up against All-Star guard John Wall in the Nov. 5 loss to the Wizards.

Sloan, whom Doug Collins said reminds him of Raymond Felton during the ESPN coverage of the Wizards game, was an erratic shooter last year (37.6 field-goal percentage) but has developed a dependable outside shot. Sloan is also fearless in attacking the rim. He could be another Anthony Johnson (who backed up Jamaal Tinsley in the mid-2000s) in the making when George Hill returns. 

For his part, Pacers.com’s Mark Montieth gushed about Solomon Hill and Lavoy Allen after the Nov. 4 game against the Milwaukee Bucks:

Hill, the Solomon one, has looked like a legitimate NBA player, too. After playing 226 minutes as a rookie last season, virtually none of them at a crucial time, he’s already up to 102. He’s a solid defender, attacks the basket, moves the ball well and is starting to hit jumpers. He’s 5-of-12 from the three-point line for the season, a payoff from his offseason work with a shooting coach.

Lavoy Allen also has proven himself. With eight points and 12 rebounds against Milwaukee, he’s now averaging seven points and 8.3 rebounds for the season in less than 30 minutes per game. So far he’s playing better, and more often, than (Luis) Scola.

Indy’s solid start on defense has also gone unnoticed. A shorthanded Pacers team is seventh overall in points allowed (94.6) and second in rebounds (48.8) through Nov. 6. Credit has to be given to head coach Frank Vogel and his staff for maintaining Indiana’s excellence in these areas. 

Roy Hibbert has also been “The Great Wall of Hibbert” so far with his 4.2 blocks per game, No. 1 in the NBA through the first week of November. 

 

The Bad and The Ugly

As good as the Indiana Pacers are on defense and rebounding, they’ve done an atrocious job in the turnovers department. 

Indiana is currently 27th in the NBA in turnovers with an average of 17.6 per game. On the other hand, the team forces only 11.2 turnovers per contest.

One game which manifested this Achilles’ heel was the Nov. 4 game against the Milwaukee Bucksthe Bucks’ first win in Indy in four years. NBA.com’s game notes for the Pacers describes how Indiana lost in the waning moments:  

But Indiana’s bench played a bulk of the minutes down the stretch as the quartet of Copeland, Lavoy Allen, Rodney Stuckey and Damjan Rudez combined for 32 points in the half to keep the Pacers within striking distance. But the Bucks were able to force Indiana into some key mistakes down the stretch, as the Pacers committed 19 turnovers in the game that resulted in 28 Milwaukee points. 

An instance of a really bad turnover was after a great defensive play by Chris Copeland with three minutes left in the game against the Wizards. After Copeland poked the ball away from Washington guard John Wall, the Pacers forward led the fast break and then decided to be fancy by inexplicably passing the ball behind his back to teammate Donald Sloan.

Turnover. Wizards power forward Nene Hilario scored on the other end to put his team up 81-77. 

Indiana’s opponents have feasted on its turnovers. The Pacers need to minimize their mistakes by sticking to pinpoint execution instead of doing the fancy things or becoming lazy during any given play. 

Aside from turnovers, the Pacers, as in recent years past, are bad on offense. Indy is 23rd in the league in total offense (91.8 points per game) and 26th in field-goal percentage (41.8 percent) as of Nov. 6. Without guys such as PG-13, George Hill and David West in tow, this is to be expected. 

With this, no other Pacers newcomer has been as horrible as C.J. Miles.

Through his first five games in Pacers blue and gold, Miles has stunk up the joint by shooting 25.4 percent from the field and 17.2 percent from three-point distance. Miles misses clean looks and also has a penchant for taking bad, hurried shots. Shooters shoot, no matter how bad they’re playing.

This is what Miles has been doing. Unfortunately, he hasn’t given Indy the lift it so desperately needs…yet. 

Miles, who admitted he’s lost a bit of sleep over his struggles on the court, told Montieth on Nov. 3 he will eventually end his shooting slump:

It can take three or four games to find it or it can take 12. I don’t want it to take 12. It’s about being comfortable and doing it the right way. Just competing and knowing that the numbers always even out. Someone taught me that as a young kid. There’s going to be a time when I triple that, because the numbers have to even out.

Let’s hope they even out sooner than later. 

 

The Parting Shot

Without Paul George, George Hill, David West, C.J. Watson and Rodney Stuckey, the Pacers, in the famous words of former Arizona Cardinals head coach Denny Green, “are who we thought they were”a struggling, young team in the bottom tier of the Eastern Conference. 

However, it’s still early in the season and there’s still hope. 

The Indianapolis Star‘s Autumn Allison hints in her Nov. 3 update that Hill, West and Watson could be back in action sometime this month. On the other hand, the earlier Associated Press report says Stuckey “will miss at least three games.” 

With those four back in the fold, Indy should make a push for a lower-seeded playoff spot. The Pacers also bolstered their thin backcourt by signing point guard A.J. Price on Nov. 6. 

This Indiana squad has seen the rise of unheralded players such as Chris Copeland, Donald Sloan and Solomon Hill. It has also remained a force on the boards and on the defensive end in spite of a badly-crippled lineup. 

However, the Pacers have struggled mightily with turnovers, points allowed off turnovers and offense. New acquisition C.J. Miles has also been a non-factor with his atrocious shooting. 

The biggest takeaway from the Pacers’ rough start is this: This whole ordeal should toughen and mold the second-stringers. They will get the exposure they need so when the time comes for the regular first-stringers to take the court once again, Indy should be a more competitive and deeper team down the stretch. 

That is definitely something to look forward to.

 

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all stats are current as of Nov. 7 and are courtesy of ESPN.com

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The Good, Bad and Ugly from the Milwaukee Bucks’ Early Season

Though there are plenty of areas to critique during the early stretch of the season, one thing is certain: The Milwaukee Bucks already look much better than they did one season ago, when they finished with the league’s worst record.

Several encouraging performances from O.J. Mayo, Jabari Parker’s respectable start as a professional and a reinvigorated Larry Sanders are just a few of the positives for the Bucks in the early going.

However, there are notable areas of concern such as turnovers, lackadaisical defense and an offense that still needs to come together.

With that said, the overall start to the season has been positive for the Bucks.

Now, let’s take a closer look at why that is and what areas the team still needs to improve in.

 

The Good

Aside from the fact that the Bucks have been competitive in almost every game to start the 2014-15 season, there have been individual performances that have stood out as well.

First and foremost is the play of Brandon Knight, who seems to be picking up right where he left off a season ago.

The 22-year-old point guard had his best season as a pro in 2013-14, and though the team acquired point guards Kendall Marshall and Jerryd Bayless in the offseason, he seems to be silencing any notions that he is not the team’s point guard of the future.

Through the early slate of games, Knight is averaging 18.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.2 assists on 40.8 percent shooting from the field, while turning the ball over 3.0 times per game.

Despite not connecting on a high percentage of his shots and still turning it over a bit too much, Knight has shown that he has become a better distributor and more capable of running an offense.

He has an assist percentage of 39.0, which is up from 26.6 percent a season ago and currently the best of his career.

While Knight has been impressive on his own, his numbers have been boosted by the successes of those around him as well.

After a hot start, Mayo has cooled off a bit over the past three games, but the veteran shooting guard is still averaging a respectable 12.6 points while hitting 44.7 percent of his field-goal attempts, including a very good 41.7 percent of his threes.

Mayo has seemed to embrace his role of coming off the bench and adds a great spark to the second unit.

Much of how he will fare going forward rests on the consistency of his jump shot, but as long as he is making plays in other ways—and he is, as evidenced by his 3.4 assists per game—Mayo should remain a valuable asset regardless of his scoring numbers.

Meanwhile, the rookie (Parker) is getting his feet underneath himself in the NBA, and while he hasn’t been great, he has shown signs of being the player he was in college:

Sanders, who missed most of last season due to injuries, has managed to get right back on track in terms of rebounding and defending the rim.

The big man is averaging just 6.4 points on 37.8 percent shooting but is hauling in 9.2 rebounds per game and averaging 2.0 blocks.

While he still needs to develop his low-post game and learn how to defend without picking up so many fouls—he’s averaging 4.0 a game—he’s off to a good start after missing most of 2013-14.

Best of all for the Bucks is the fact that they’re playing competitive basketball and haven’t looked overmatched in any of their first five games.

Their defensive rating of 99.27 ranks third in the league, and they’re only allowing 94.9 points per game.

If they can keep that level of play up defensively, things will be looking very good when their offense finally does come around.

 

The Bad

At the end of August, the Bucks acquired Jared Dudley from the Los Angeles Clippers and likely hoped he would at least provide some meaningful contributions.

So far, that hasn’t been the case.

Dudley, known primarily as a spot-up shooter, is hitting just 33.3 percent of his field-goal attempts and a horrific 16.7 percent of his threes. For a player who adds little value elsewhere, that’s troublesome.

What’s more troublesome is the fact that Dudley has started all five games to this point and is averaging 20.0 minutes a night.

If the Bucks didn’t have other talent on the roster, that might be alright. However, that’s not the case.

While Marshall, Nate Wolters, John Henson and Ersan Ilyasova get shorted minutes, Dudley remains on the floor.

This leads to another question: How deep into the bench should head coach Jason Kidd go?

A season ago, Larry Drew tinkered with the lineup far too much, and while it is very early, it is a bit concerning that Kidd seemingly has not developed much of a subbing pattern or consistent rotation.

For example, Henson has appeared in all five games, but his minutes range from 21 against the Philadelphia 76ers to just under nine minutes against the Indiana Pacers earlier this week.

A head coach needs to experiment with a young teamespecially early in the seasonto see what he has to work with, so this issue isn’t a major concern yet. However, if Kidd doesn’t develop a more solidified rotation, he risks going down Drew’s path.

Based on Mayo’s opinion from last year (per Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), that’s one of the reasons why the team wasn’t able to develop and become more cohesive:

It’s hard to get a rhythm when you don’t know what’s going to happen for you night in and night out. You may get 6 minutes, 30 minutes. There’s no staple to what we’re doing. You can hang in there, compete and keep it close.

If you don’t have a backbone to what you do, whether it’s going to be a defensive thing, an up-tempo thing, a pound-it-in-the-paint thing, a drive-and-kick thing. We’ve got to find a staple as a team.

Like last year, the Bucks must find their staple. They still have plenty of time and it is obviously early, but at some point, it needs to happen.

Part of it happening will be because of a consistent, tight rotation.

 

The Ugly

Turnovers.

That’s the one and only thing that can be dubbed ugly for the Bucks through the early going.

Holding on to the ball has been a major issue as the team has made its way through the first week of the season. Averaging 18.4 turnovers, they rank 27th in the league in that category and recently had a terrifying 27-turnover game against the Washington Wizards.

For a team that has struggled scoring as much as the Bucks have so far this season, giving away possessions is the worst possible scenario.

The team is hitting just 42.6 percent of its field-goal attempts and averages just 93.8 points—which ranks 22nd—and does not yet have a consistent, go-to scorer who can do so efficiently.

Given these facts, it’s important that they value every possession and not get careless.

The team’s biggest culprit from a turnover standpoint is Knight, which doesn’t come as a huge surprise since he handles the ball so frequently.

However, the young point guard does have the tendency to dribble himself into poor situations and just play out of control in general.

If he can slow things down and play under control, he’ll likely limit the amount of turnovers he commits.

Surprisingly, Zaza Pachulia is also a big culprit.

The veteran big man plays just 16.8 minutes per game yet turns it over 2.3 times on average. For someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time with the ball in his hands, that is unacceptable.

Forcing passes, dribbling into traffic and hesitating on making decisions have been the major contributing factors to the turnover issue.

If the team cannot cut down on the mistakes, it won’t matter how well it plays on defense because, at some point, giving away empty possessions comes back to haunt you.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

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The Good, Bad and Ugly from Houston Rockets’ Early-Season Results

The Houston Rockets couldn’t have hoped for a better start to their season, winning all five of their games by double digits. In fact, almost no one could have anticipated this. There is still good, bad and ugly to derive from that start.

Per Basketball-Reference.com, the only other team in NBA history to match that feat was the 1986-87 Denver Nuggets, who won their first six by 10 or more.

Yes, it’s just five games, and the Rockets’ schedule hasn’t been the most difficult in the league, but we can infer some things from what we’ve seen so far.

There is much more “good” than “bad” or “ugly” from the Rockets in the early going, but they’re not perfect. Here are the early-season takeaways, warts and all, from worst to best.

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Two Good Plays from the Cavs Loss in Portland

The Cavs played like a turd sandwich in Portland last night, which is fitting since yesterday was Election Day.1 I don’t want to rehash the gory details of the game any more than I want to hand count voting ballots (Kirk handled that bit of dirty work), so in lieu of that, I want to look at two good plays that happened during the Cavs loss to the Blazers.
Maybe there were more than two, but I don’t want to examine too closely, because I don’t want to find out that there weren’t. Bright side, people.
3:30, 2nd quarter
LeBron passes on a layup opportunity to set Shawn Marion up for an easy bucket. This is important because Marion had just blown a layup that he should have made. It had just happened, moments earlier.

If the Blazers had rebounded that first miss, then Marion would have run back on defense feeling bad. He might not have touched the ball for another possession or two. He might have gotten in his own head and allowed himself to drift. This sounds silly, and I’m not suggesting that Mario

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