Team on the Rise
Atlanta — New coach. No problem. Veteran roster. The easy solution. The Hawks enter tonight’s game with 0-4 Detroit at 4-0. The Hawks lead a Southeast Division that houses Miami and Orlando. Larry Drew’s squad has won two of the four by 10 points or more, scored 100 or more in three of the games, led in rebounds and shooting percentage in three of them and committed fewer turnovers in two of them. Atlanta has never trailed at the half. Only the Lakers (4-0) have those types of numbers through the early part of the season.
The six players who have registered starts have combined to shoot 49 percent from the field despite a miserable 28 percent from 3-point land. The Hawks’ starters shoot 77 percent from the stripe, average 31.9 of the team’s 44 rebounds and are scoring 86.2 of the team’s 105.5 points a game.
Team on the Decline
Charlotte — We stay within the same division to find the team on the decline. The Bobcats enter tonight’s game at New Jersey 0-3. It is the worst start for the Michael Jordan-owned franchise after entering the season off of its first playoff appearance. They have trailed at the half and at the end of three in two of the losses, while blowing a seven-point third-quarter lead against Indiana and giving up a triple double to Brandon Jennings in a loss to Milwaukee.
The Bobcats now get a New Jersey team that is 2-1 at home. Recent history says Charlotte will fall to 0-4 as it went 13-28 on the road last year, is 0-2 so far this year and has not scored more than 88 in those two losses this season.
Numbers to Know
16.7 — Where do you begin with the assist numbers Boston Celtic PG Rajon Rondo is putting up? His 16.7 per game average is on pace to best John Stockton’s record of 14.5 set in 1989-90. Rondo’s 67 through four games are the most in NBA history.
70 & 30 — Washington Wizards rookie John Wall became the first rookie since Oscar Robertson with at least 70 points and 30 assists through three games. The Big O had 72 and 30 in 1960-61; Wall has 71 and 31. The nine steals he had in the team’s home opener — tying a franchise record along the way — weren’t bad in his debut for the home fans, either.
Beyond the Arc
The best Big Three: With all the hype surrounding LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining with Dwyane Wade in Miami to form the new Big Three you'd think this trio would run roughshod over the rest of the league. Well, Miami has a three-player combo that leads the league in +/- going into tonight’s games, but it’s not those three. It is the combination of PG Carlos Arroyo along with Bosh and Wade who lead the league with a +/- of 66 at 95:38 played. The much-publicized Big Three is actually eighth on that list with a +/- of 45 over 107 minutes played.
Top five combo: The best five-player combination resides in Golden State, although the sample size is pretty small (two games). Andres Biedrins, Dorell Wright, David Lee, Monta Ellis and Steph Curry have a +/- of 41 over 35:41 played. Miami’s five-player combo of Arroyo, James, Bosh, Wade and Joel Anthony is at a 35 +/- over five games and 65:41 played.
Sixth man almost the best man: Wilson Chandler may have lost his starting gig, but you wouldn’t know it as the Knick has been lighting it up through three games. He is the league’s top substitute in regards to points (21 ppg), rebounds (10 rpg) and assists (.7 apg) for a 31.7 average — 6.4 ahead of second-place Ben Gordon. The Knicks’ key signing in the offseason, Amar’e Stoudemire, is averaging 32.0 in the points/rebounds/assists combo.
That didn’t take long: Milwaukee guard Brandon Jennings joined Elgin Baylor as the quickest in league history to register a 50-point game and a triple double within their first 100 games (84). He went for 20-10-10 against Charlotte Saturday. As a rookie Jennings scored 55 against Golden State last November, which set a record for the youngest player to score 50. Jennings could have pulled off the feat by that Nov. 14 game against Golden State. In his NBA debut, he had 17-9-9 against Philadelphia. Another rebound and assist and it would have taken seven games instead of 84.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter