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NBA Weekly Roundtable: Pacers On Fire As Star PGs Struggle

Michael Corvo, Danny Galvin, Sareen Tavidian |
November 14, 2013 | 4:46 p.m. PST

Sports Staff

Derrick Rose is off to a slow after after missing last season. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Derrick Rose is off to a slow after after missing last season. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
The NBA regular season is already over 10 percent over. But the NBA Weekly Roundtable is just beginning, as our weekly article will cover the issues you want to know most about around the league. We'll have a panel of three NBA aficionados each week, giving you their takes on the trending topics. Without further ado, here's their thoughts from the NBA's first two weeks.

1) Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook are back from injuries that kept one out for the playoffs (Westbrook) and the other for the entire 2012-13 season (Rose). Both are struggling, to say the least. What are your expectations for each over the next few weeks, and do you think either (or both) should see reduced minutes?

Michael Corvo: It’s true that they both look rusty, and it’s particularly affected their scoring efficiency. Rose is only putting up 14.7 points per game on 16.0 field goal attempts per game, and Westbrook is only shooting at a 35.3 percent clip. However, it’s too early to be alarmed about either guy since rust is natural. And, in Westbrook’s case, his athleticism looks to be all the way back. It’s too early in the season to think about reducing minutes. In fact, this is the time where these guys need run in order to catch up to speed.

Danny Galvin: The conspiracy theorist in me that espouses beliefs in the illuminati and Area 51 wants to believe that Derrick Rose's hamstring injury is a sign that he is what hoopers refer to as “shook. The rationalist in me knows, however, that no drills or playing time can prepare the human body for the speed and strain of an NBA game. Westbrook, Rose, and their respective hamstrings are learning this. Don't hit the panic button. The athleticism is there, just let them acclimate themselves. 

Sareen Tavidian: Two different injuries, two different athletes. Although he’s had a shaky season thus far, it’s too early to label Rose as a “struggling” athlete. With his consistent momentum and drive, we will definitely see progress in his jump shot, the main reason for his struggles. Westbrook looked much improved against the Clippers Wednesday night, and appears motivated to quiet critics. Ultimately, there should be no minute reduction for either player, because only time and practice will get them to the level that they were before. 

Jameer Nelson has been in Orlando for nearly 10 years, but has a brand-new group of teammates. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Jameer Nelson has been in Orlando for nearly 10 years, but has a brand-new group of teammates. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)

2) The Philadelphia 76ers are 5-4 and the Boston Celtics are 4-5 out east, while the Phoenix Suns are currently 5-3. Based on what you've seen and what you think will happen, what team seemingly destined for the lottery is your favorite to sneak into the playoffs? 

Corvo: Personally, I think these teams will all fall way back into the lottery because their entire organizational strategy is to be bad. I do think the Suns will be better than people (including them) thought, just because of how much of a force Bledsoe has turned out to be, the improvement of Markieff Morris and the return of Channing Frye. This team is athletic, can stretch the floor, and defend. Also, keep an eye on the Magic, who quietly put together one of the most intriguing young cores in the league.

Galvin: The NBA imitates life, and life is a marathon, not a sprint. The talent gap between the 76ers, the Celtics, the Suns et al, and the rest of the league will be popping these totally-playoff-bound bubbles soon. Aided by surprising performances from Michael Carter-Williams and Eric Bledsoe, they might not be bad as everyone predicted, but they aren't good. Historical anomalies like Morris Twin A shooting on Beginner Mode will disappear over the next nine months. Evan Turner and the Hyphen may be enough to vault the Sixers into a top-loaded conference, but the thirst for Wiggins probably too strong for the Turner to stay in Philadelphia anyways.

Tavidian: A lot of teams have been stepping up to the plate ever since the season started, but in my opinion the Minnesota Timberwolves are destined for the playoffs. Kevin Love has proved this to be a possibility by averaging nearly 26 points per game, as well Mr. Dynamic, Ricky Rubio, returning from an injury, is as much determined as Love to make it to the end. And most importantly, the addition of Kevin Martin has given this team hope with his consistent three pointers- something the team lacked last year. 

Roy Hibbert and the Pacers might have what it takes to top the Heat and Joakim Noah's Bulls. (Zach Primozic/Wikimedia Commons)
Roy Hibbert and the Pacers might have what it takes to top the Heat and Joakim Noah's Bulls. (Zach Primozic/Wikimedia Commons)

3) The Indiana Pacers are the NBA's last unbeaten team. Are the Pacers the real threat in the East, or are expected contenders like Miami and Chicago simply off to slow starts and destined to catch up with Indiana?

Corvo: Indiana is here to stay. They play with an unmatched toughness and swagger, and they can really defend. Roy Hibbert is in better shape and is the early favorite for Defensive Player of the Year, allowing opponents to shoot just 33.8 percent at the rim. Paul George has made the leap to superstardom, the bench is greatly improved and Danny Granger will return at some point. The Pacers are eyeing the East’s top seed, and if they get it, have a great chance to knock off the champs.

Galvin: Built around a starting five with great chemistry, the Pacers are giving me 2004 Pistons vibes--except that Paul George is turning into the bonafide superstar that Rasheed Wallace should have been. Like the back seat of my high school Chevy, it's not always pretty, but they're making magic happen. The defense is literally unbelievable good, giving up an impossible 0.809 points per position. That won't last, and the Heat, the Bulls, and hopefully the Nets will figure out their problems, but in a year where I would take the field over Miami, I think I found the field.

Tavidian: The Pacers have arrived, and everyone should be moving out of their way. However, Miami and Chicago are not the teams to stay far behind or be intimidated. As the season progresses, the Pacers have to maintain their team chemistry and flow in an effort to stay on top. Facing teams like the Heat, with LeBron James chasing ring number three, and the Bulls trying to prove that they can get back to the top with the return of Rose, the Pacers can't get too comfortable. The season has just begun, and the Heat's quest for a 3-peat makes them the team to beat. 



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