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NBAHawks: Redux (Season Start-11/10)

Your personal window into the world of former Jayhawks now plying their trade in the NBA. Stop looking through the window all pervy-like. Seriously, it's disconcerting. JUST USE THE WINDOW LIKE A NORMAL PERSON ALREADY.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Ahem. Where were we? Oh, yes. It's a new season, which means a new format here on RCT's favorite consistently NBA-centric column! My apologies that it has taken so long to get this year's edition up-and-running, but you're not putting in the legwork, so chill out. I figured rather than going the power-ranking route I'd try a tiered structure this year, and since I'm the czar of my column I'll decide the arbitrary ranking system I prefer and you'll just learn to love it. (Note: In the Tsardom of Russia, player ranks you? I dunno, go with it...)

So, a bit of a primer to start things off, these rankings are going to be as expectation-neutral as I can manage, meaning that I'm not going to give young players a huge boost for existing and getting minutes, or role players a tier bump because they're playing above their paygrade in the event of an injury. In other words, the tiers are approximately the order you'd expect these guys to go if we were drafting each player's cumulative performance for the time period being reviewed to play in a hypothetical pick-up game (or something like that). Also note that player order within tiers is also arbitrary.

As always, I'm open to any and all suggestions for future posts (more advanced stats, more .gifs, less blathering, use the royal 'we' more, etc.), so go ahead and put your ideas in the comments! Let's get to it!

High Fliers:

Markieff Morris (Suns)/Marcus Morris (Suns)- TWIN REPORT- The Suns are 4-3 and the Morrii have been a package in the starting lineup in every game thus-far, and sit at 3rd and 4th in minutes played for the squad, respectively. Markieff has played especially great ball as he's averaging 16 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, a steal and a block per game on 56% shooting from inside the arc. Marcus is averaging 11.3 pts, 4 reb, and 1.6 assists on 43% shooting, while putting in 35.3% from deep.

When you're this good, you get wonder twin bobbleheads, eat your heart out Lopez bros:

Ben McLemore (Kings)- Ben seems to have learned a lot from his redshirt year... err, I mean, *rookie* year. He came on strong in the last month of last season and has continued to improve this year. First and foremost, he's shooting like the guard we saw at KU once again, hitting 40% from three and 47.4% from two. He's also playing some great defense, for example, he shut down Aaron Afflalo a few games back, holding him to 2 points. It seems like the next step for BMac will be to cut down on his foul-rate as he's been starting games, but picking up a few quick fouls that have artificially limited both his minutes and his ability to get into a shooting groove. The last two games have been 15 and 16 point outings, both on 9 shots, including some big shots late in the game against the Suns and Thunder, so it'll be interesting to see whether he can maintain his current trajectory.

Speaking of high-fliers:


(Get it? Because Ben jumps high on this oop. I knew you'd get it.)

Less-High Fliers:

Andrew Wiggins (Wolves)- Wiggins has made great strides in the early going in Minnesota, showing some consistent otherworldly defense and pairing it with a consistent 8-10 points with a high-teens outburst here or there. Flip Saunders seems to like Ronnie Brewer's ball-handling in the lineup a but more than Wiggins' with Rubio out injured for a spell, but Wiggins should still be able to get his 30 minutes per game. And yes, all 30 of those minutes are appointment television, so go ahead and tune-in for stuff like this:


Mario Chalmers (Heat)- Mario forever vacillates between being the guy who gets you 20 points on 9 shots with no turnovers (or 18 on 9 with one, both have happened) and getting you 2 points on 4 shots with 5 turnovers. The Heat are sitting at a cool 5-2 after losing the best basketball player in the world,  which is nothing to scoff at, however, their insistence that Norris Cole should start is slightly puzzling, as Chalmers has been more productive in every statistical category, and especially outdoing Cole when it comes to getting to the charity stripe (4.4 FTA/game vs .6 for Cole).

Technically It's Still Flying:

Nick Collison (Thunder)- Nick has looked pretty solid in his increased minutes for the Thunder. Notably, he seems to have added the three point shot to his repertoire, hitting 38.5% from range on what is on pace to be the most attempts of his career by about tenfold. He's currently 5th on OKC in Win Shares, but that means a bit less when your team's 15 best regulars are all out injured.

Drew Gooden (Wizards)- Drew has maintained his high level of play that began last spring after the Wizards took a flier on the Free Agent mid-playoff-push. He's getting between 15 and 30-some minutes per game while shooting well from all over the floor, including 43.5% from three.

Paul Pierce (Wizards)- Paul would've been in the tier above this after his first 4 games, having shot well or had the good sense to not shoot when he wasn't, but the last three games have been rough ones, going 3 of 15, 3 of 11, and 2 of 13, and even with the 10 earned free throws in the latter game, I can't in good conscience elevate him.

Kirk Hinrich (Bulls)- Kirk is the Kirk of the last 2 years, solid in his Shooting Guard spot or as the backup Point Guard, but really does a lot better when Derrick Rose can go ahead and take some of the playmaking burden off of his shoulders, not to mention draw the defenders off. Sadly Derrick Rose hasn't been in the lineup consistently this year either, and so Hinrich has certainly had moments (7-11 for 20 points) but has also not-infrequently been out of his depth (3-12 for 13 points with 5 TOs).

I'd Rather Walk:

Cole Aldrich (Knicks)- Cole is 4th on the Knicks' roster in Win Shares and Win Shares per-48 minutes, so naturally he's only seen 69 total minutes this season. Knicks gonna Knick.

Darrell Arthur (Nuggets)- Sometimes he's been good, other times he's been bad. The Nuggets are horrible to watch in my opinion, so I'm not going to dwell on this section any longer than I have to. Sorry Nuggets.

Tarik Black (Rockets)- Since making the Rocket's roster (in what was likely the last spot) Tarik has been very solid, seeing play in 5 games so far as Houston has barreled their way to the line and to a 6-1 record. If you had told me before the season that Tarik would have three games where he'd logged 15+ minutes at this early point in the season I would've called you a liar, but here we are. What a world?

Thomas Robinson (Blazers)- After the Blazers decided not to pick up his 4th year option for financial reasons, they have little reason to push for minutes or develop Thomas. His minutes have been essentially meaningless, but he continues to show that he can rebound the ball, with 16.2 per-36 minutes so far this year. Perhaps Robinson needs yet another change of scenery (ugh)? I mean, how can you keep a guy down when he does stuff like this all the time?


Haven't Left the Nest:

Jeff Withey (Pelicans)- Jeff has gotten no run. It sucks because he's awesome. I'm seething.

Brandon Rush (Warriors)- Don't call it a comeback just yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if Brandon ends up seeing some minutes for this Warriors team in the next few weeks. It remains to be seen if he'll be back to what he was when he last played for Golden State after his injury struggles of the past two years though.

Xavier Henry (Lakers)- The Lakers are terrible, and in his 41 minutes Xavier Henry has contributed more wins to the team than Kobe and Carlos Boozer combined (-.1 Win Shares to -.2 Win Shares).

Joel Embiid (76ers)- Coming Soon: The Joel Embiid Experience.


(Probably not that soon, but still...)

That, my friends, is 17 Jayhawks in The Association. Tune in next time to see whether Yugi can assemble Exodia in time to beat Kaiba and avenge his Grandfather!