3-Ball, Corner Pocket: 2 November

3-Ball, Corner Pocket is your weekly look at the league’s leading MVP candidates, most outstanding rookies and best and worst performing teams.

We’ve had the NBA back for nearly a week now, and hasn’t it been fantastic? We’ve seen bucket loads of points scored, big jams, sweet dishes and the Super Friends get on track after a shaky start. Who’re the standouts at this point? Let’s take a look:

MVP watch

1. Chris Paul, 20ppg, 6rpg, 9.3apg: It’s been overwhelmingly apparent thus far that the Hornets are a far better ballteam with a healthy CP leading the charge. With real nice numbers to start the season, as well as his team sporting a nice shiny 3-0 record (defeating quality teams Milwaukee, Denver and San Antonio), CP deserves the top spot early on.

2. Pau Gasol, 25.3ppg, 10.3rpg, 5apg: The Lakers just keep on keeping on, and Pau has been the star for them up to this point. The skilled big man is doing what he likes so far, shooting above 50% from the floor and flirting with a triple-double (21 points, 8 boards and 9 assists) against Phoenix.

3. Joe Johnson, 23ppg, 4rpg, 4apg: The Hawks are hot to start the season, after struggling in preseason action, they are 3-0. Although some credit should go to Horford for the fast start, it’s the new max guy leading the charge down in the ATL. The $124m man seems to be looking to silence those (myself included) that questioned the size of the new deal, and is just going about his business of winning ballgames. Good on him.

4. Brandon Roy, 25ppg, 6.3rpg, 3.7apg: Brandon Roy rarely does anything wrong on the court (or off it, for that matter) and he’s going along strong to start another season. With the Blazers out to an undefeated start, despite already dealing with injuries, Roy deserves much of the credit. Love to watch him hit that fall-away J.

5. Kobe Bryant, 24ppg, 6.3rpg, 4apg: What more can you say about Kobe, at this point? He’s just a phenomenal athlete, he’s picking his spots and executing with brutal efficiency. So, doing Kobe stuff.

On the bubble: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Monta Ellis.

Eye on ROY

1. Blake Griffin, 16.7ppg, 11rpg, 2.3apg: Blake has been everything we expected him to be, a super athletic dunking machine at the 4 spot. Although his Clips have been struggling to start the year, it’s through no fault of Griffin’s; he’s been simply stunning in his first few games as a pro.

2. John Wall, 21ppg, 3rpg, 9apg: As expected, Blake’s main challenge for Rookie of the Year honours will come from Wall, who’s also had a super-impressive debut as a pro. After struggling in his very first game (shooting just 6-19 from the floor), Wall bounced back to scorch Atlanta to the tune of 28 points and 9 assists, showing the poise of a much more veteran player.

3. DeMarcus Cousins, 13.3ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.3apg: DMC’s struggling with fouls at the moment, fouling out of his team’s second game, a loss at New Jersey. Still, got his first pro double-double the next time out with 14 points and 10 boards and looks like he’ll be quite the force in the league.

4. Derrick Favors, 10.3ppg, 10rpg, 0.3apg: After a somewhat disappointing summer league performance, Favors has really come along to start the season proper, averaging a double-double and looking particularly good on the offensive glass. He’s shooting 58% from the floor, but like so many rookie big men, needs to work on staying out of foul trouble. Very promising young man, however.

5. Landry Fields, 11ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.7apg: The second-rounder out of Stanford got the start at shooting-guard on opening night, and I’ll admit that I was rather surprised. However, Fields has not disappointed, scoring 11 in each of his 3 games and shooting 50-40-83. Worth keeping an eye on, as some scouts suggested he has a Jared Dudley sort of game.

On the bubble: Wes Johnson.

Power Rankings – who’s hot

New Orleans, 3-0: The Hornets have come out and made a statement early, defeating 3 quality opponents (the aforementioned Bucks, Nuggets and Spurs). After a terrible preseason, going just 1-7, there’s reason to be optimistic for this season. CP must stay healthy, however.

L.A. Lakers, 3-0: They have 2 MVP candidates, they have the past two championships, and they just keep on rolling. Their bench has been much improved to start the season.

Atlanta, 3-0: Another team that really struggled preseason, the Hawks are doing it really well to start off this season. JJ is leading nicely, Horford is averaging just shy of a double-double (14.3/9.7) and Josh Smith is swatting 4.3 shots a game so far.

Portland, 3-0: Only one healthy center? No matter for this resilient bunch, who’re still waiting on Greg Oden and Przybilla to return from injury. With Roy leading the way and ample support from LMA (15.7/9.7), the Blazers would like their chances to make some noise this season with some healthy bigs.

Miami, 3-1: After struggling big time in the opener against Boston, the Heat have out it together pretty quickly, winning the next 3 straight by an average of 19.67 points per. With Wade and Bron both leading with nearly identical 21/6/5.5 lines, it good to see these guys are on the same page. If you’re a Heat fan, that is.

Power Rankings – who’s not:

Detroit, 0-3: Gets the top spot as worst of the worst in the first week, mainly for absolutely collapsing in the game against Chicago, where Derrick Rose hit 39. They have a long way to go if the want to make the playoffs, as some (read: me) predicted.

L.A. Clippers, 0-3: The Clippers just can’t catch a break. Despite getting everything they could have hoped for from Blake Griffin, they are still struggling. They’re averaging just 38% from the floor at this point and that’s not going to win any ballgames.

Charlotte, 0-3: They’d have to be encouraged by the early play of D.J. Augustin, 17 points and 5 assists as he takes over the lead role at the point. However, they need to try and push the ball, as they’re attempting the fewest field goals in the league.

Philadelphia, 0-3: After a promising debut, Evan Turner struggled in his next two games, scoring none and then 9 after 16 points in the first game. The 6ers need him to play well in order to get better. Iggy, Brand and Young are playing well early, however Jrue is also struggling somewhat.

Washington, 0-2: They lost their season opener by 29, a margin that flattered them in the end. Things can only get better, right? They do have John Wall.

Thanks for reading.

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