Welcome to our weekly feature: This Week In Hoops. Every Monday morning we’ll take a quick look back at what we learned from the last week of games and a look forward at this week’s slate.
What We Learned Last Week
- After waiving Josh Smith, the once woeful Pistons have won 7 of their last 8. They look like an actual basketball team now! And Stan Van Gundy is oozing excitement, most notably during this timeout near the end of Detroit’s win over the Spurs (language NSFW).
- The Knicks, Cavs, and Thunder made a splashy trade. So splashy that it made me write about the Knicks twice in one week. It was quite the week.
- College basketball has gotten wild. Kentucky got dragged to overtime by Ole Miss, then double overtime by Texas A&M, surviving both. NC State ended Duke’s perfect season and Rutgers welcomed themselves to the Big Ten by upending Wisconsin. Villanova reaffirmed themselves as Big East favorites by spanking both St. John’s and early season surprise DePaul. Virginia stayed undefeated. UNC snuck by Louisville. Wisconsin and Arizona both lost late Sunday evening. Things are getting intense. In some cases, too intense.
- The Lakers are terrible but it’s so hard to ignore the brand of crazy and terrible that they continue to churn out. This collection of quotes from Swaggy P and Jeremy Lin prove that, while I have little interest in seeing them play basketball together, a TV show about the two of them as roommates would be the greatest show on television.
- The Cavs made another trade, giving up two first round picks for the rim protection of Timofey Mozgov. Pretty amazing that a guy who for the last five years was best known for getting his life destroyed by a Blake Griffin dunk is now worth two first round picks, but welcome to 2015. It makes more sense for the Cavs than you’d think. One of the picks was just acquired in the Dion Waiters trade, so they treated it like a $20 bill they found in their jeans before heading to the bar. Plus, embattled coach David Blatt knows Mozgov from their time with the Russian national team (and their time being created in the Muppet studio).
- The Celtics, Grizzlies, and Pelicans are finishing a three team deal that will send Green to Memphis (big upgrade), Quincy Pondexter to New Orleans (pretty interesting addition), and picks and expirings to the now tanking Celtics. One of those expirings is Austin Rivers, who rumors have being shipped to join his father’s team in LA. My dad was my high school coach, so I think I can say with some level of expertise: WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS DOC?
The Week Ahead
In The NBA
Wednesday, Wizards @ Bulls
We’re all just going to sit around and let Pau Gasol score 46 points and grab 15 rebounds like he’s not some sort of sorcerer or goblin? I don’t feel comfortable with that.
Wednesday, Clippers @ Blazers
Friday, Warriors @ Thunder
The Western Confernce has turned into the highest stakes musical chairs game I’ve ever seen. 6.5 games separate the 6th seeded Clippers from the 10th place Thunder. When the music stops, two good teams will be sitting at home and the league will be forced to do something about the imbalance.
In College Hoops
Tuesday, #16 Oklahoma @ #14 West Virginia
Wednesday, #17 Iowa State @ #21 Baylor
The Big XII has landed on the basketball moon and planted their flag while yelling “WE’RE THE BEST CONFERENCE IN AMERICA”.
Wednesday, SMU @ Temple
Wednesday, Xavier @ #8 Villanova
Saturday, #2 Duke @ #5 Louisville
Two of the nation’s best, both coming off losses. Okafor vs. Harrell. Yes, please and thank you.
Saturday, #9 Utah @ #7 Arizona
Huge litmus test for two of the best out West. Tons to learn here. Huge for the Pac-12 crown and even bigger for seeding in March.
Saturday, #12 Kansas @ #19 Iowa State
Saturday, #14 West Virgnia @ #10 Texas
Again, the Big XII is awesome this year. This could be the week they take over the world.
Hey, NFL. Stick to Sundays. Basketball’s got Saturdays from here out.
Enjoy the games, boys and girls.
(Note: Every edition of This Week in Hoops ends with a song. I’ve compiled all of these songs into a playlist that you can find here. For obvious reasons, it’s a bit holiday heavy right now. It will even out soon enough.)
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer of PalestraBack.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.