Welcome to the first in-season NBAHawks review of 2015-16. This edition will cover all of the Jayhawks in The Association, addressed by their expected contribution to their respective teams. For this edition, those tiers will be "Starters", "Second Unit", "Benchwarmers", and "Suit-Wearers".
Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota)
-After struggling mightily for the first four games of the season, hitting less than 30% from the field, and contributing very little elsewhere besides the charity stripe, Wiggins has caught fire. In his last 7, Wiggins is making nearly 50% of his shots overall, and (unsustainably... yeah yeah yeah) 47% from deep on his way to 26 points per game. The second year guard is also good for about one ridiculous dunk attempt per evening, and the Timberwolves have pushed themselves into the League Pass Darling subset of teams here to start the season.
-The younger of the Morris twins has had a very odd start in Detroit. Marcus has started each game for the surprising Pistons, and played more more minutes than anyone on the team, but his efficiency from the floor has been disappointing (38% from the field). However, Marcus' +/- has been spectacular, and he is a part of 7 of Detroit's top 8 5-man lineups by point differential per 100 possessions, so (small sample size alert) it may be that Marcus' well rounded game outside of his shooting, as well as his mean streak, is showing real benefits for the team who now sits at 6-5 and in the ridiculously early East Playoff Picture (tm).
-If you read the Marcus Morris section of the post, you can essentially port that to this segment as well... Markieff has been less than efficient in shooting 38% from the field, but, as you might imagine, the Western Conference is a bit less forgiving for players who can't make shots, and Markieff has only seen 25 minutes per game as a result. I can't help but think that some of this relates to the residual anger Markieff harbors for the Suns after they traded his brother and he publicly asked for a trade himself. It will be interesting to see whether his desire to get away from Phoenix ends up with him continuing a private tanking effort, and whether or not that will be the catalyst for the trade he desired in the offseason.
-McLemore has been shifted around a bit in the Kings' lineup, coming off of the bench for a 6-game stretch, but has since re-established himself a bit with four straight very efficient performances, going for 15, 8, 11, and 17 points on better than 50% shooting from both the field and from three. From those totals you can see how McLemore has seen somewhat lower usage, the question moving forward will be whether that is his norm under Karl-Cousins-Rondo, or whether that hot streak emboldens him to take more shots and contribute more offense.
-Gooden is a bench piece for the Wizards, he's seeing minutes in the teens here in the early-season, and I would expect for that to continue for the foreseeable future, with an increase in minutes late and in the playoffs. That said, the early returns of a FG% around 30 isn't really putting any pressure on Randy Wittman to play him any more in the short-term.
-Black has been the recipient of fewer minutes this season as a consequence of the Hibbert signing this summer, but he is still hitting more than half of his shots from the field, and rebounding at a double-double rate were he getting more minutes. Those are the expectations as a bench big, and, barring injury, his usage should be fairly steady.
-Shady has been cold to start the season, hitting less than 30% of his shots. His contributions to the team are mostly intended to be on the defensive end, but no team can afford an offensive anchor like that to see the floor consistently. Until he warms up his minutes will be minimized.
-Chalmers was dealt to the Grizzlies in a backup-PG swap as he was struggling in the bench role which seemed to affect his shooting to the point where the three just wasn't in his repertoire, hitting just one in 6 games. Cut to his first two games in Memphis: Rio looks like a revelation. Two games a season does not make, but he has made 7 threes in addition to going 25 of 27 from the free throw line, with 5 steals to add to his 56 points. That production is unsustainable, but even a fraction of his initial returns will make the trade a slam dunk for Memphis.
-Collison is doing Nick Collison things, grabbing rebounds, throwing kick-out passes, and taking charges. He's having a somewhat difficult time converting from the field this season, which is partially a shot-selection issue as he has made more midrange attempts over the past two seasons, but he should be nearer to 50% than his current 44% when all is right.
-Oubre didn't see any minutes in the first few games of the season, but has done well in his bench 3-and-D wing role since reaching the floor. Over his past 3 games he's averaged about 8 points on 57% shooting. One of his limiting factors so far has been his fouling, as he's had games where he has ended on 3 and 4 fouls from the bench multiple times. Once he learns how the game is called and utilizes his natural athleticism and wingspan more effectively that should correct somewhat, it's mostly a matter of when.
-Pierce has not been particularly good so far for the Clippers. He had been operating off of the bench for the first 10 games of the season, but has since started twice. So far the shots have just not been falling from outside (27%), and despite hitting his customary 47% from two, it's hard to positively contribute when one aspect of a wing's game isn't there.
- If Thomas could figure out how to hit a foul shot he would have a much easier time getting onto the court... At present he is hitting 22% more of his shots from the field than he is from the stripe at 62% and 40% respectively. That 62% warrants an extended look, and the Nets are bad enough to see what they've got in Robinson, but it's painful to see those opportunities for free points missed.
-Rush is seeing time in Golden State blowouts... and with that team there are A LOT of blowouts. It's difficult to make judgments in that context, but the occasional 2-for-2 or 3-for-5 is certainly a step in the right direction.
-Hinrich has seen time in just a handful of games so far under the new Bulls staff, though in his last three games he has contributed, including a start in which he was 6 of 7 from the field with 6 assists as he contributed 14 points in a Bulls win over the Suns.
-Cliff is somewhere between a benchwarmer and a suit-wearer so far, but since he has seen minutes these last few games having healed from injury I went with the former. That said, the sample size from the last three games is just about worthless outside of noting Cliff having scored his first NBA points while still a teenager. Happy 20th, Cliff.
-Cole's career has so far been dependent on taking advantage of opportunity, and opportunity for playing-time just hasn't presented itself yet in L.A.
-Kaun was still learning the NBA game in preseason, I'd expect to see a bit more of him as the year goes on, but scant minutes in blowouts is all for now.
-Withey has seen at least a few minutes in about half of the Jazz's games, hitting 60+% from the field, obviously the folly here is that he should be getting all of the minutes in all of their games. Get a clue, Utah.
-I don't want to talk about this right now... Someday *wistful sigh*