Not the best week for our NBA guys, but at least there aren't 5 guys injured like a couple weeks ago. As always, feel free to add any questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.
1. Paul Pierce (Brooklyn Nets) (Last Week: 2):
Three games for the Nets this week, they grabbed a win against the Sixers, but took L's against both the Pacers and the Thunder, the latter of which was complete decimation. PP had a great game in the win, putting up 25 points on just 9 shots, going 14-14 from the foul stripe after going 6-7 and 7-7 from the line in the two games prior. If Pierce can continue to get to the line like he has he'll continue to warrant the 30 minute workload that he has had this week as the Nets play smallball in the absence of Brook Lopez. Whether that increased workload will help or harm an aging Pierce in the Playoffs is another question entirely...
2. Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) (LW: 5):
Three wins for the Heat this week, and Mario looked good in each of them, putting up around 10 points per game in his 26 minutes. Last night in a fun national game against the Clippers Chalmers looked great and was +23 on the night in what was just a 4-point win, unsurprisingly he led the team in that stat. Norris Cole has struggled of late, so it will be interesting to see whether recent trends continue and what that will mean for the Heat in the offseason as they will have a choice to make with Mario with his contract at an end.
3. Marcus Morris (Phoenix Suns) (LW: 6):
Marcus' week started with a really great performance in Indiana to help the Suns get the win, going 7-12 from the floor for 16 points, then followed that up with three more solid outings, 15 on 9, 5 on 3, and 11 on 9. The Suns need to invest on a voodoo magician or something to get the Morrii to both be in the zone at the same time, as the team becomes quite formidable whenever it happens.
4. Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) (LW: 1):
After leading these rankings last week Markieff struggled a bit from the floor, going 17-49 in four games, two wins and two losses, however, he kept up his good form when it comes to drawing fouls and thus ended up with about a point-per-shot anyway. He gets a bonus for his display in another win against Indiana, on the road no-less, but it's not enough to stay atop the rankings this week.
5. Nick Collison (OKC Thunder) (LW: 3):
No offensive explosion like last week for Nick as he put together a quiet string of positive minutes in a three-win one-loss week for the Thunder. In case you missed it since I added it in late last week, despite his lack of gaudy numbers, he kills it for OKC, and I'd love to see him get increased minutes moving forward, or at least in the Playoffs when the Thunder can't afford for Perkins to muck everything up.
How OKC fares with Kevin Durant, depending on Perkins or Collison's presence (hint: 20 pts per 100 better on offense) pic.twitter.com/zfqEtgniyZ
— Nathan Walker (@bbstats) January 30, 2014
6. Ben McLemore (Sacramento Kings) (LW: 4):
Ben has been cold from three this week, going just 1-6, but has seen an increase in minutes over the course of the week owing mostly to his effort on the defensive end. He made a hustle play that ended up icing the game against the Raptors last night which was a feel-good moment for the rookie in a season without many of them.
I've seen unconfirmed reports that Ben will indeed be involved in All-Star weekend in the Dunk Contest, which would be really exciting, and I can't imagine if he's there to dunk that he won't be a late addition to the Rising Stars Challenge, as I've seen reports that NBA execs were surprised that he didn't make the initial list, having been left off by the coaches in their voting. Dunk Contest participants look to be Paul George, John Wall, Damian Lillard, Terrence Ross, Harrison Barnes, and Ben, which is as good a lineup as one could expect.
7. Thomas Robinson (Portland Trailblazers) (LW: 7):
Thomas didn't feature in last night's game against the Knicks, with his minutes going to Meyers Leonard instead. Perhaps it was because Thomas hadn't scored in his previous two games, contributing only in rebounds, blocks, and assists, but when the team had only maintained or increased their lead in those minutes I fail to see the problem there. Anyway, the Blazers put Leonard out there instead last night, and MAN is he bad... -11 in 9 minutes in a game Portland won, he was even worse than those stats indicate, he looks like a baby deer out there playing basketball, but a deer might have more awareness... I can't imagine Thomas' exile to the realm of DNP-CD's is anything more than temporary, but can't think of many reasons for it to have happened in the first place other than that it's trade value season.
8. Jeff Withey (New Orleans Pelicans) (LW: 8):
Jeff saw 12 minutes and 9 minutes in wins against Chicago and Atlanta, respectively. He didn't get any time in a loss to San Antonio midweek. He has put up a typical 3-4 rebound, 2-4 point, 1-2 block, 1 assist, 1 steal sort of line just about any time he gets more than a minute or two, and his +/- stats have been comparable or better than the starting center regularly for about the past month.
9. Kirk Hinrich (Chicago Bulls) (LW: 9):
After doing very well in his first game back from the hamstring issue that had sidelined him at the end of last week Kirk struggled with the 3-point shot this week. As a result he has seen mildly reduced minutes. Going 0-8 from range isn't gonna leave anyone with warm fuzzies about your week, especially when the team loses two out of three with one loss by nearly 30 to the Sacramento Kings...
10. Brandon Rush (Utah Jazz) (LW: 11):
Some decent minutes for Brandon, but minimal production to go with them. The Jazz are bad (a shocker, I know) and they lost their three games this week, which obviously serves their purposes. I just hope Rush is able to use the remainder of this season to get back to full health and get his 3-and-D game back in order before he takes a cheap value-building deal this summer.
11. Darrell Arthur (Denver Nuggets) (LW: 12):
Middling minutes and minute production as well this week for Darrell, not much to say about it really, though I wonder if he's 100% back from his strained groin as it's only been about a week since he re-entered the lineup.
12. Cole Aldrich (New York Knicks) (LW: 10):
So much for progress... After featuring in all four wins a week ago, Cole had 50 seconds of floor time in an 0-3 week that included a loss to the lowly Bucks.
13. Xavier Henry (LA Lakers) (LW: 13):
The knee strain he suffered on the 29th of December lingers, but Xavier sounds like he'll be making his return sometime... maybe, I guess. Anyway, the Lakers could've used him the last couple weeks, but when you're living in Tankonia I guess being a better team isn't really what you're going for.
Not Ranked. Tyshawn Taylor (FA) (LW: 14ish):
Tyshawn was picked up by the Maine Red Claws, and I don't doubt that he'll tear up the D-League as he has every previous assignment period. The question is whether he can make enough of an impression to warrant another shot with an NBA squad in the near future, or perhaps in the offseason.