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Last Night’s Pick – Dwight Howard – 34 P1P
Dwight set a season high in P1P for me in this early season, as he should have, yet still left me rather unsatisfied. In his match-up against the Wizards, there was a rare case of the Wizards being too-bad for Dwight’s and his Pickers’ liking. Watching the game last night as a fan of Washington, it felt as if I was watching a freshman high school basketball team play their first game. The defense was horrid as there was not help down low or in the middle and the offense was equally as embarrassing as players were firing up low-percentage shots whenever they got the ball. The only bright spot – kind of – was John Wall who was able to display his speed and driving ability but also showed his struggles with the jump shot. Because of this, Dwight (a) only played 29 minutes, (b) didn’t get very many reps as the drive was open all game, and (c) didn’t have very many offensive rebound opportunities because of the high percentage shots the Magic were able to obtain. Furthermore, it seemed as if the game plan from the Wizards’ defense was to ensure that Dwight Howard did not have a big game. When center JaVale McGee wasn’t helping on the weak side on defense, it was because he was too concerned with the location of Howard. Thirty-four points in twenty-nine minutes is okay, the expert got it too, but you expected more from Dwight against a Wizards team who I say is the worst team in the NBA. Thanks for being so sucky, Washington.
NBA.com’s Expert Pick for Tonight – Blake Griffin – Forward – Clippers
“In my initial analysis of how to play this first week, I said it would be best to go with sure-things and not try to predict who the hot rookies would be at the start of the season. Well, that is all getting thrown out the window with today’s pick. Despite early reports that Blake Griffin was absolutely positively going to be a beast this year, I wanted to hold off on picking him until I had some tangible evidence. His first game against a good Blazer team was proof enough for me, as he posted a double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds. Keep in mind, since he missed all of last year with a knee injury, Blake is still considered a rookie – so the rookie bonus is in play here, making him that much more valuable. The simplest aspect I look at each night when deciding who to pick is the opponent; obviously the poorer defensive teams are more likely to be susceptible to a big night from a player. I found a lot of success last year picking players when they went up against Golden State (sorry Warrior fans). They score a lot, but they also give up a lot. Even with Nellie Ball retired to Hawaii, they still are not built to be a strong defensive team. There should be a lot of opportunities for Blake to get buckets and grab boards tonight.”
Even though there are now “unlockable bonuses” and you can re-use players you have already chosen, there comes a point where you use too many good players too early. He just used Dwight Howard last night in hopes he will unlock him later and I’m sure he has the same thought with Blake Griffin because, at this point, Griffin isn’t a sure thing after his one game of NBA life.
Additionally, playing Blake against the Warriors isn’t quite a favorable match-up for a couple reasons. As of before the games today, the Warriors are the second best shooting team in the NBA; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to show you what that does with rebounds. We also may have forgotten, since his name isn’t Bosh or LeBron and his talents are across The Bay rather than in South Beach, that David Lee is the power forward for the Warriors. They are second in offensive rebounds amongst teams that have only played one game and are tied for third in offensive rebounds per game.
I know I am going to hear something like, “those stats don’t mean anything! The Warriors have only played one game all season!” I have two responses to that. First, Blake Griffin has also only played one game in his career, making his stats equally as meaningless. Also, this early in the NBA season, why would you risk taking a Pick One Superstar in a game where he could flop?
My Pick for Tonight – J.J. Hickson – Forward – Cavaliers
Yes, Cleveland still has a team. That team even beat the Celtics who beat the Heat. Take that LeBron!
Anyway, I am taking J.J. Hickson for a few statistical reasons:
1) He is the best rebounder on a team that will be without center Anderson Varejao.
2) His opponent, the Raptors, are the second worst shooting team in the NBA behind only the Wizards. It is not like they played against a powerhouse defense in their one game either; they played against the New York Knicks.
3) With all their opportunities, they have only grabbed twelve offensive rebounds and are in the middle of the pack when it comes to rebounds per game.
Since Hickson isn’t a Pick One Superstar, I can pick him in good conscience tonight. With Varejao out, it may be the best time, as well.