As I sat around last night watching Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks go up against the Kris Joseph-free Celtics, I realized it’s time for another Pro Update. Here’s what’s been going on:
As mentioned above, Kris Joseph was cut by the Celtics earlier this month. In fact, he was cut just a few hours before his contract would have become guaranteed for the rest of the season. It was a pure financial flexibility move for the C’s, who now have roster spots and money available under the cap in case they want to add someone later on this year. K-Jo’s totals as a Celtic: 6 games, 24 minutes, 7 points. According to his agent he’s considering going overseas to finish out the year, or may go back to the D-League as a free agent. Personally I hope he heads back to the D-League, tears it up, and gets himself a 10-day contract someplace. He deserves a shot on a team where the coach doesn’t hate to play rookies.
Of the guys still in the NBA, Carmelo is obviously still the tops. (This will probably be true until he retires.) He is right now tied with Kobe for 2nd in the NBA in scoring. Since our last update he has had two games of 40 or more points, and a third with 39. He’s starting the All-Star game next month, a week before having his Syracuse jersey retired. Gonna be a busy dude.
Melo’s title-winning teammate Hakim Warrick has had a bit of a renaissance in Charlotte all of a sudden. Immediately after we published our last update, he was suddenly thrust into the starting lineup of the Bobcats. He played 38 minutes in that first game as a starter, scoring 18 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. He hasn’t quite hit that level of play since, but has been averaging about 10.5 ppg and 5 rpg since becoming a starter.
Dion Waiters has continued his alternately brilliant and pedestrian play. He hit a career high of 33 points a week ago, plus 5 assists. He came off the bench in that game, as the Cavs have shuffled their lineup around looking for a spark. Then he followed that up with a 1-9, 5 point dud. So he’s still a work in progress, but Cavs fans are eager for the day to come when he becomes a consistent performer.
Finally, there is Wes Johnson who remains mostly buried on the Suns’ bench. He did recently play 22 minutes in a rare Phoenix win (over the Bulls), contributing 3 points and 4 rebounds. That was on January 12, and on January 15 coach Alvin Gentry said publicly that he’d like to get Wes more minutes.
Gentry was fired two days later. And so it goes.
Finally, a quick hit: Donte Greene worked out for San Antonio a couple weeks back, but he didn’t get a deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands somewhere this winter though. There’s gotta be room on an NBA roster for a 6′10″ guy with experience and skills.
Down a level, Fab Melo is finally coming into his own. Despite concussing himself on a door frame two weeks ago, he has been a reliable and sometimes outstanding player for Maine. He had a triple-double just before Christmas, setting a D-League record with 14 blocks. He followed that up by scoring 32 points, with 9 boards and 9 blocks, in the next game. While his numbers have not again reached those gaudy heights, he’s averaged 13 points and 7.5 rebounds since then.
Arinze Onuaku’s domination of the D-league has been put on hold. He hasn’t played at all in 2013, missing three weeks (and counting) with a knee bruise. It’s too bad because he was playing out of his mind for Canton, and had a great chance to crack the big time when 10-day contracts began recently. Here’s hoping he stays hot when he finally returns, which could be this weekend.
Rick Jackson recently did some dominating of his own: he had a string of five double-doubles from Jan 4 to Jan 13. Throw out an inexplicable 0 points, 5 rebounds in his most recent game, and he’s averaging 12.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in January for Austin.
Paul Harris, too, has been blowing up the league. After a slow start to his season, he had four consecutive double-doubles of his own to close out the month of December. In two of them he scored at least 30 points. His January hasn’t been quite as amazing, but he’s still averaging 11 points and 9 rebounds per game for the month, including 20 & 13 in his most recent game — his 8th double-double of the year.
Demetris Nichols has scored in double figures in all but three of his 23 games for Sioux Falls. He’s averaging 17.6 ppg for the season and has routinely cracked the 20-point barrier. He’s efficient, too, shooting a brisk 45% from the field and 33% from deep. Not world-beating numbers but very, very solid. Significantly, all these numbers are on the rise now that NBA teams are handing out 10-days: in his last three games he’s averaged 25.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and shot 29/46 from the floor, 8/10 from long range.
Last but not least, Andy Rautins continues to bomb away from long range. He’s still shooting over 40% from deep on the season, though that’s down from earlier in the year when he was near 50%. He had one of his “heat-check” games recently, scoring 23 points on 7 threes and two foul shots on January 10. That game began a streak of five straight double-digit scoring games for Andy, which ended in his most recent game when he only managed 8 points.
Jonny Flynn is now leading his surging Tigers up the standings, thanks in part to this recent 27 point, 5 assist, 7 rebound performance, leading his team in all three categories for the game. Melbourne has won 6 of 9 after starting 0-6. They have climbed out of the league basement, and at the moment sit only 1.5 games out of the playoffs. It took a little while but Jonny has adapted to what his Aussie team needs him to do, and while they may lose him to the NBA at some point they are going to ride the gravy train while it lasts.
Eric Devendorf has been up-and-down for his Ukranian team. His point totals in his last six games are as follows: 17, 19, 7, 2, 17, 16. Shockingly, he’s been phasing out the long ball from his arsenal: in his last 8 games he’s attempted only five three-pointers out of around 60 shots. That’s all I have on him right now; you will be unsurprised to learn that there are not so many English-language articles written about E-Dorf as there are about Jonny Flynn.
The Bulgarian league took two weeks off for Christmas, so Darryl Watkins has only played in three games since we last checked in. They were solid, not spectacular: 13 ppg, 6 rpg over the three games. His team, Lukoil Academic, is 11-2 and tied for first place. If you happen to have a Lukoil gas station in your neighborhood, you should go there every time you need a fill-up, knowing that indirectly you are helping to pay Mookie’s salary.
Elvir Ovcina’s most recent game was his fourth double-double of the season, a 16-point 10-rebound effort in a loss to Phoenix Hagen (which sounds less like a German basketball team and more like a porn star). On the year he’s averaging 12 points and 6 boards per game, right about where he’s been for the past three years. Consistency, thy name is Elvir.
Kristof Ongenaet may be off his Belgian 2nd-division team… or maybe not. Their roster still lists him, but it also lists another player besides him wearing #12. So maybe his jersey is just being lent out until he comes back. This interview with one of their top players, which I Google-translated, suggests that he K-Ong missed a lot of time due to injury:
Do you dream about with this team back to the top basketball?
“Obviously, although there are currently only few characters. The past few days we learned that JR Holden, former player of Ostend, in a Ghent-top basketball project, but from the club we heard nothing there anyway. Reportedly they are thinking back to the first national open up for several second-graders. In our team stabbing several basketball players who cherish this ambition, but who wish sufficient force to realize that just as we are in the first place that best playoff pick. ”
Is that still on?
“The goal is still very alive in the group. We left but a few stabbing attack, but also had bad luck and misfortune. So I miss soon may already my sixth game. Kristof Ongenaet for a long time out and Maarten Van Gelder was more along the line than he was. After what my teammates against Houthalen showed that promising and calendar for eyes I am still convinced that the duel against Brussels is the new and definitive start of our hunt for one of the four play-off tickets. ”
I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. Anyway, that piece is from a couple of weeks ago and Kristof has not appeared in a game since, or at least has not scored a point in a game since, so let’s assume he’s still out with whatever injury and keep checking back periodically.
On January 6, Preston “Mert” Shumpert had one of those NBA Jam “on fire” games. He was 5/6 on threes, 3/3 on twos, and 2/2 from the foul line for a masterful 23 points, leading Aliaga to a win in the Turkish league. His 3-pt percentage is up to 46%, even with an 0-4 shooting game the previous time out.
And finally, in the ABA, Damone Brown’s Jacksonville Giants are 18-1. Damone himself seems to be doing well. For instance, he was the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder with 18 & 9 on January 5. He had another 12 points in their last game, one of nine players in double figures in a 164-122 win. Seriously. Welcome to ABA world. I also found out that last year Christian Laettner played in six games for Jacksonville. For real.