Thursday, November 8, 2012

Big Numbers From Small Names: Real or Fake

The start of each NBA season comes with a bevy of surprises. This year is no exception especially when it comes to non-household names making big noise on the court and in the box scores. Rookies join the fray, certain players are given expanded minutes and sometimes you see a name that makes you say "Who? He had how many points?" Obviously the name James Harden comes to some of your minds as his initial games as a Houston Rocket resulted in about 316,000 points, but Harden was already a star in many minds. Let's explore some of the breakout guys from the first four or five games of this young 2012-13 NBA season and try to determine if they are the real deal or just a temporary temporary tantalizers.

Real Deals

Damian Lillard - It always helps to be on a team with next to no depth like Lillard is with the Portland Trailblazers, but this kid has come on to the scene and showed true NBA talent right away.
Again, playing 40+ minutes some nights inflates his statistics a bit, but if a rookie can average eight assists in his first four games (against LA Lakers, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Houston) while also scoring almost 20 points per game, you've got to take that seriously. Potential City.

O.J.Mayo - As always, insert sandwich joke here. Sure, it's not like Mayo is bursting onto the scene for the first time as he averaged 18.5 points per game as a rookie. But he seemed to decline every season after that in Memphis and the Grizzlies decided to move on, which as it turned out was the best possible thing for Mayo. He has a solid starting job with the Mavericks and has put out two 30-plus point games for 4-1 Dallas.
Look for much more of this from O.J. Mayo, especially while Dirk Nowitski is sidelined and Mayo is scoring option numero uno.

Omer Asik - This is not a prolific scorer we are talking about here, but Asik is someone who any team in the NBA would love to have in their five spot. Did Houston overpay for him? Yeah, probably. Are his 14 rebounds per game so far a fluke? Absolutely not. Asik is a bruiser who couldn't care less what the box score reads. He went 0-7 in the Rocket's win over the Atlanta Hawks, but had 19 boards in that game. Asik never got consistent minutes in Chicago, who probably should have paid him rather than Taj Gibson, but now that he has a home in Houston and starter's minutes, look out opposing glass crashers.

Temporary Tantalizers

Al-Farouq Aminu - Don't get me wrong, I love this kid. He's granted us an interview on this website and I think he will be a very solid contributor for the New Orleans Hornets as they plug along into the Anthony Davis era. That being said, 12 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks probably won't continue to happen. 12 points I can see if he continues to play 35-plus minutes, but the other stuff most likely not. Let's not overlook the fact that there were 95 missed shots in that game against Philly where he had 16 boards.

Glen Davis - Big numbers for Big Baby, but the Orlando Magic are just terrible and those numbers have to come from somewhere. They do have two wins already somehow, but I wouldn't expect that to become a trend. Davis will continue to get minutes as long as he stays out of trouble and maintains health, so a close to 20-10 season is possible. But those things need to be taken with a grain of salt on a team that only has 20-or-so wins.

J.J. Hickson - He does this to me every season. A team gives him a ton of minutes for a few games in a row and he averages a double-double (he's rocking 11 and 11 right now) and gets me all excited about him. But then all of a sudden something happens where he just immediately stops producing and another young big man steps up and takes his spot. It happened in Cleveland a couple times and also in Sacramento. I would absolutely love for this to be the year where this kid keeps up the trend and I hope he fits in nicely in Portland. I'm just saying, don't count your chickens Hickson fans.

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Snottie Drippen said...

I dunno, man. I think Aminu CAN actually maintain these numbers, be a Deng-lite. Let's not forget he's an 8th pick only 3 years in, we'll see what he can do!

Jacob Noble said...

I agree, I am an AMINU fan too

James Bucklin said...

Me too. I was just saying the boards are a tad inflated at this point and once some injured Hornets get back his role will be reduced. Down the road he could be a Kirilenko-type for sure.

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