NBA Big Questions: Week Four

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce listens to a question from the media prior to practice to prepare for Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in El Segundo, California June 5, 2010. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL) 

Every Monday during the NBA season The Hoops Manifesto and its Bloguin bredren team up to answer some of the burning questions from the world of the NBA. In this edition we decide if the Spurs are a legit title contender, who’s performance is the biggest surprise, the Cavs or the Warriors, and whether Kevin Love can keep up his torrid rebounding pace.

Contributors: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, Diego from Leaving It All On The Court, Aaron Hodges and Peaceman from Knicks Fanatics, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily, Deborah Horton from Hawks Highlights, Don from With Malice, College Wolf from TWolves Blog and Michael De Leon from Project Spurs

1) The Spurs have quietly jumped out to the League’s best record.  Are they a legit title contender or has their time in the sun passed by years ago?

“They are definitely legit.  The Spurs are always my “darkhorse” NBA title pick heading in to the season, and this year is no different.  The most impressive part is they have dominated thus far with Tim Duncan posting the worst numbers of his career.  And while Duncan and Manu Ginobili are getting long in the tooth, more than half of the Spurs rotation players are still in their twenties, including Tony Parker.” – Jeff Fox

“I think the record is a little misleading. They’ve benefited for a pretty easy early schedule, but it’ll be getting tougher with games against the Magic, Hawks and Mavericks among others. With that being said, there is a lot to like with this Spurs team, especially the balanced scoring attack, their mix of young role players including Hill, Anderson and Neal. If they stay healthy, they have as good a shot as any to challenge the Lakers.” – Michael De Leon
“I think the Spurs are a legit title contender because of the fact that the field is so narrow.  And we know what the Spurs are still capable of, so their nice start this season isn’t a surprise, or anything of that nature.  When healthy, the Spurs have been one of the best teams in the league for years.  Parker is revitalized after last year’s injury ridden “down year.”  Jefferson is finally finding his role, and playing like he’s capable.  Duncan has help from fellow bigs such as Blair, Splitter, and the ageless Antonio McDyess.  As long as Manu stays healthy, they are a legit title contender this season.” – College Wolf

“This season is not the first that people have questioned the San Antonio Spurs’ championship window. But this scintillating start to the season should not surprise anyone. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are playing great basketball and Richard Jefferson is playing much better than he did last season. With an aging but still effective Tim Duncan and the veteran Antonio McDyess off the bench, San Antonio is definitely a team that can make some noise in the playoffs.” – Diego Quezada 

“The Spurs have one last run in them, however, if Pop doesn’t rest his older fleet like Doc Rivers did last year they will be an early exit.” – Peaceman

“They are definitely looking legit at present.  Winning 10 in a row, 6-1 in the conference.  They are only 1-1 in the division though while division leading New Orleans is 3-1.  James Anderson has a stress fracture and Tony Parker is going to go through a high profile divorce – which could lead to distractions.  And again, long, long season in the NBA, so only time will tell if the Spurs can keep up this pace.” – Deborah Horton

“I was surprised too to see San Antonio sitting atop the Western Conference standings. They have kind of flown under the radar, as they always seem to do. I do not think you can ever really sleep on this team. It is going to be all about health and finding a rhythm late in the season. But Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan know exactly what they have to do to win a title.” - Philip 

“Nope.  Sorry to say but due to some players being of advanced age and continued reliance on those players, the Spurs will – sooner or later – fold their cards.  Sure, they’ll be competitive, and they’ll beat some teams who are contenders.  But I don’t think they can sustain this through the rest of the season – much less the playoffs.” – Don

“Seems like the Spurs have been counted out, considered too old for the past five years. A ten game win streak is impressive. They have the their core intact so chemistry is not an issue. DeJuan Blair’s improved play gives them enough help to possibly take down the Lakers and other challengers out west. I wouldn’t rule them out just yet.” - Aaron Hodges  

2) Biggest surprise (and why) – the Cavs playing close to .500 ball thus far or Golden State being 7-6?

“The Cavs.  I figured they were going to be among the worst teams in the league this year.  And yet they are currently the eighth seed in the East.  Guess that LeBron guy was holding them back all those years.” – Jeff Fox

“The Warriors, fo sho.  Cleveland still has an average team, so .500 is reasonable.  Plus there are a lot of crappy teams in the NBA, and they have been feasting on an easy schedule by winning some games they should/could.  Heck, they could have an even BETTER record, but they have lost to Indiana, Sacramento, the NJ Nyets, and Toronto!  The Warriors were a mess going into the season.  Their ownership, the coaching, the players.  They lost Udoh for 6 months.  Monta and Curry have both missed games.  David Lee is out.  I’m amazed at how well this team is doing.” – College Wolf 

“With the exception of its win over the Boston Celtics, Cleveland has only defeated Philadelphia, Washington and New Jersey. The Warriors appear to have a nice core together for a bright future, though. Monta Ellis is blossoming into a star, Stephen Curry is providing shooting, David Lee adds a post presence and rebounds and – in somewhat of a surprise – Dorell Wright has become the favorite for Most Improved Player with his defense and three-point shooting. This team may become the Oklahoma City Thunder of last year, except without one of the top players in the game.” – Diego Quezada 

“Cavs hands down.  The media and most fans had written them off after LeBron left.  Most people thought they would fall into utter collapse, but not so.  They are currently riding the middle of the conference standings and after LeBron left I bet you couldn’t find one person to say that they thought they would be close to .500 at this point or this entire season.” – Deborah Horton

“I have to say Golden State. They have not beaten a whole lot of very good teams, but the Warriors have always struggled defensively while playing their fast-paced style. So to see them at 7-6 denotes there has been some improvement on that end. Cleveland still has some solid players that should keep them somewhere near .500 (not above, but near). I think most would agree the Warriors were not similarly predicted.” – Philip

“The Cavs playing near .500 ball is preposterous. How can they possibly be competitive when their prodigal son has not yet returned? We are finally getting a chance to see the rest of that roster showcase their skills more often. It looks like they have enough talent to compete for a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. You can never count out a Byron Scott coached team. Sure, he had his issues in New Orleans, but he knows how to get the best out of young players.” – Aaron Hodges 

3) Despite standing less than 6’8″ (he was measured without shoes as 6’7.75″ at the pre-draft camp, so don’t believe the 6’10″ you see him listed as) and not being particularly athletic, Kevin Love leads the NBA in rebounding (13.8 rpg).  Can he keep it up for the whole season?

New York Knicks center Amar'e Stoudemire reaches the ball before Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love during their NBA preseason game in Paris on October 6, 2010. The Timberwolves won the contest, part of the annual NBA Europe Live tour, by the score of 106-100.  UPI/David Silpa Photo via Newscom 

“He can keep it up, assuming he has finally convinced Coach Rambis that he is worthy of playing at least 30 minutes per game.  Guess the Wolves are so stacked with talent that they can afford to sit Love for long stretches of games!” - Jeff Fox

“I certainly think he can. With love, it’s not about the tools or height he has, it’s all hustle. He’s a blue-collar player and very tenacious on the boards, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him keep it up.” – Michael De Leon

“Yes, because he’s a stat whore; and he steals easy rebounds from his teammates. And lest I forget to mention the patented Kevin Love “3 For 1″, where it takes him two or three shots to score a bucket, because he’s either missing shots close to the rim or getting them blocked.  Luckily for him he manages to get those “rebounds” back and convert them.” – College Wolf 

“Kevin Love is a capable rebounder; he averaged double-digit boards last year. His 30-rebound game does boost his rebounding average, and I expect that Dwight Howard will take the rebounding title once the season closes its books. That isn’t a knock on Love, and I expect him to get 10-12 rebounds per game for the season.” – Diego Quezada

“Love has heart. If he can stay healthy he will continue lead the NBA in boards. Rebounding is about toughness and desire. He has both.  Dennis Rodman looked about 6’8″ when I stood next to him in the Garden and he led the league in rebounds more than a few times.” – Peaceman

“Yes, as long as he stays healthy.  He has 14 games currently at over 10 rebounds a game.  He does have a rather up and down performance line usually going two or three games with over 13 rebounds and then having two or three at five, six, or seven rebounds.  He is listed at 6’ 10” on the official TWolves site and maybe he’s just trying to live up to that measurement on the court.” – Deborah Horton 

“I absolutely see Love continuing to put up big rebounding numbers. Throughout his career he has been one of the top rebounders based on total rebounding percentage and offensive rebounding percentage. The guy just knows how to position himself for boards even with his small stature. He still has to improve his defense in the post and we will not see another 30-rebound game from him, but he will continue to put up solid numbers and challenge Dwight Howard for the rebounding title.” – Philip

“Given I have the benefit of having just watched the game where they hosted the Lakers, I’ll go with not a hope in hell.  He’d struggle to jump over a shoelace!   Love got 0 points, going 0-7, with only 7 rebounds.  He had the benefit of catching everyone unaware early, but teams see him coming now.” – Don 

“I watched Kevin Love pick apart the Knicks during his 31 & 31 coming out party. The guy has a knack for getting to the ball. It’s not pretty but he sure is efficient. Some players understand their athletic limitations and the importance of positioning their bodies to give themselves an opportunity to make a play. Kevin Love fits that Charles Barkley mold, although I would argue that he’s not nearly as funny. As long as he gets enough minutes he can certainly keep up the pace.” – Aaron Hodges 
4) Finally, every week we’ll be picking a Game of the Week that we will predict a consensus winner of.  This week’s game - Mon, Nov 22nd – Orlando @ San Antonio

Record so far: 1-2

Conensus Pick: Spurs (5 votes to 4)

About Jeff Fox

Jeff Fox is Mr. Manifesto - the Supreme Leader and evil mind behind The Hoops Manifesto & The MMA Manifesto