23-year-old shooting guard Bradley Beal has nearly equaled his age in points per game, as the Wizards continue their stellar play (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
While nine teams held the same ranking from our previous edition, six squads rose or dropped at least six spots. Leading the way among most improved from last edition, the Washington Wizards jumped from 22nd to 12th. Thanks to lethal 3-point shooting, the Rockets continued their ascent to fourth even as starting center Clint Capela will be sidelined for the next month at the very least. The Nuggets also impressed the panel, playing extremely well in their first stretch as a completely healthy unit. The returns of Danilo Gallinari and Gary Harris have Denver fans feeling as high as their city’s altitude. The Lakers, however, continue their slide and can no longer use injury as the lone excuse for dropping 11 of their last 12 games. Since our second edition, which was published four weeks ago, the Lakers have dropped from 13th to 27th or seven spots every two weeks.
Biggest Jumps: Washington Wizards (+10), Denver Nuggets (+7), Dallas Mavericks (+6)
Biggest Falls: Los Angeles Lakers (-7), Portland Trail Blazers (-7), Detroit Pistons (-7) Continue reading
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Although the Memphis Grizzlies find themselves better than .500, they’ve struggled to beat the league’s upper-echelon teams. Grizzlies radio play-by-play announcer Eric Hasseltine joins the show to discuss Memphis’ early struggles, caused primarily by uncharacteristically poor defense and a lack of perimeter shooting. With Zach Randolph really showing his age and Mike Conley Jr. starting slow, Eric believes Marc Gasol needs to consistently be aggressive for this team to succeed. Many other fascinating topics are discussed, including Mario Chalmers’ impact, these juicy bites below and much more:
6:40-8:00: On why the Grizzlies have struggled: “They feel like their defense can get better. They’ve certainly faced some of the elite teams right off the bat. They’ve played Golden State twice, San Antonio twice, Dallas twice, Oklahoma City twice, the Clippers and the Rockets twice. They haven’t faced the teams that you’d think you can pile up wins on. Nonetheless, they’ve got to do a better job against the good teams. They’re not trusting each other the way they used to. Their offensive sets are not crisp…not solid when they’re moving the ball, so they don’t get a bucket, and then they give up a bucket. Next thing you know, you’re down six, eight points. Now you’re gonna press offensively…and that puts a lot of pressure on the defensive end.”
9:45-10:35: On the need for Marc Gasol’s leadership: “Some nights, he is uber-aggressive and wants to be the lead dog…other nights he’s so team-oriented that he feels like he needs to get other guys involved. When Marc catches, turns, and shoots from 17, 18 feet…it’s hard to stop him. When he does that on a regular basis, it makes teams have to come out on him. But Marc is so basketball savvy and team-oriented that he doesn’t want it to be all about him. The problem is (Memphis has) paid him to be one of those guys…He’s learning how to be that guy, because he’s never been in his career. It’s always been a 1-2-3 punch of Randolph, Gasol and Conley sharing those duties. Now it’s a lot more on Marc’s shoulders. I think he’s ready and willing to take that on.”