By: Josh Weinstein
At Homestand Sports, we're pleased to provide our weekly 4-for-Four to all of our readers. The goal of the 4-for-Four is to answer four questions weekly, with the goal of recapping the most notable storylines and trends from the past week of NBA action. Enjoy!
Q: PLAYERS CATCH OUR ATTENTION IN UNEXPECTED WAYS. WHO’S ONE PLAYER LOCALLY OR NATIONALLY WHO YOU'RE WATCHING ESPECIALLY CLOSELY OF LATE?
After averaging a triple-double last season, most expected Russell Westbrook's statistics to regress. I mean really, who would have anticipated Westbrook repeating his historic feat for a second consecutive year?
Well, so far in the 2017-18 season, Westbrook is darn close to averaging a trip-dub once again. How close? The Brodie is currently averaging 24.8 points, 9.9 assists, and 9.7 rebounds this season. While his scoring is down about seven points per game from last season, the Thunder superstar is averaging only one fewer rebound and half an assist less per night. Considering he's sharing the court with ball-dominant players like Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, Westbrook's statistical feat is all the more impressive.
If there's one thing we know about Westbrook, it's that he's one of the most motivated, hungry individuals and takes matters incredibly personally. Given he was just snubbed of a starting spot in the all-star game, I wouldn't be surprised if #0 tries to make a major statement in the season's second half.
Q: IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START LOOKING FOR TRENDS WHEN IT COMES TO PLAYERS, GENERAL MANAGERS, COACHES, TEAMS OR EVEN THE LEAGUE AS A WHOLE. WHAT’S ONE TREND THAT’S STANDING OUT TO YOU SO FAR IN 2018?
There are always plenty of bottom-dweller teams that race to the bottom of the standings with the hope of landing the number-one draft selection come June. The Mavericks, Magic, Hawks, and Kings are all in the running to land the best draft odds, but one team that isn't far behind in the tanking race is the Los Angeles Lakers.
The rumour mill has been swirling in L.A. for quite some time now and it's no secret the Purple and Gold want to recruit one or two top-tier free agents this upcoming offseason. Normally, the Lakers would be inclined to tank for a higher draft selection. This season, though, Magic Johnson and the rest of the team's management has to ask themselves an important question: Will losing a boatload of games to try and land a top pick harm the team's chances of recruiting star talent in the foreseeable future?
As the season progresses, I'm interested to see what path the Lakers go down. Honestly, with the team's lack of talent, they may not have much of a choice. They'll have to hope that mounting losses doesn't deter from their chances at landing star free agents.
***It's also worth mentioning that Los Angeles must forfeit its draft pick if it lands at first overall in 2018.***
Q: THERE ARE SURPRISE TEAMS EVERY YEAR, AND WHILE MOST END UP FADING AWAY, SOME CONTEND ALL YEAR. ARE THERE ANY LEGITIMATE CONTENDERS AMONG THIS YEAR’S SURPRISE CLUBS?
If there's one team across all four major sports for the past two decades that has exemplified what it means to be dominant, it's the San Antonio Spurs. Year in and year out, Gregg Popovich's squad rattles off 50-win seasons and postseason berths in their sleep.
Entering 2017-18 without Kawhi Leonard, it wouldn't have been surprising to see the Spurs regress in the standings. Actually, it would have been expected. Yet once again, San Antonio is trucking along as a team on pace for 50-plus wins without the availability of its superstar talent in Leonard.
Aside from Popovich's excellence, LaMarcus Aldridge has been the main the reason the Spurs have been able to remain relevant. He's stepped up admirably as San Antonio's number-one scoring option, averaging nearly 23 points per game.
While this Spurs team won't likely make it farther than the second round or Western Conference Finals, it doesn't make their impressive start to the campaign any less impressive. Considering the immense succcess the organization has experienced, I would have never expected that I'd think of San Antonio as a surprising team. I guess there's a first for everything, right?
Q: WHAT’S SOMETHING SMART OR INTERESTING YOU READ RECENTLY AND WHY DID IT STAND OUT?
Over at The Athletic, Danny Leroux published an excellent piece this past Tuesday focused on moves that some teams should consider making ahead of the trade deadline. Given teams are starting to figure out
As for podcasts that are worth listening to, The Ringer's Bill Simmons and ESPN's Zach Lowe reunited for a pair of podcasts on their respective networks. Boy, did listeners miss those two talking hoops! Whenever Simmons and Lowe are in the recording booth together, it makes for an excellent podcast.