3-Ball, Corner Pocket: 16 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.

After 3 weeks and some potentially historical performances from the Utah Jazz, let’s take a look at who’s ballin’ right now –

MVP Watch

1. Chris Paul, 17.6ppg, 5.1rpg, 10.1apg: His stats aren’t ridiculous, but his Hornets were the last team in the league to lose their first game, dropping their last contest, at Dallas, 95-98. Just as he was last season, he’s off to a phenomenal start shooting the ball, 51% from the floor, 44% from deep and 86% at the line.

2. Deron Williams, 22ppg, 4.7rpg, 10.2apg: Makes his first appearance on the MVP watch this season, after orchestrating a series of come-from-behind victories on their East-coast road trip. Although the streak is impressive in it’s own right, considering the Jazz were down double-digits in each game, but even more impressive considering that Utah has not typically been a great road team (or even a good one) in recent seasons.

3. Pau Gasol, 23.2ppg, 12.4apg, 4.2apg: He’s leading the league in efficiency right now, his 31.1 PER much higher than the next best (Paul Millsap, surprisingly, with 26.9). Although the Lakers have dropped two in a row, it’s through no fault of Pau’s; the big man grabbed 37 boards in those two games.

4. Rajon Rondo, 10.8ppg, 5.2rpg, 15.1apg: How valuable are you to your team when your opposition will live with you having a wide-open three-point attempt? Still, can’t deny that he’s leading the top-of-the-East Celtics, while averaging 15 assists per game.

5. Russell Westbrook, 23.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 7.7apg: We’ve seen a few different guards in our MVP watch through the first few weeks, Joe Johnson (his Hawks just snapped a 4-game skid, he’s shooting 44%); Brandon Roy (averaging 18 per game, but the Blazers sit at just 6-5 and he’s out with knee troubles); Kobe Bryant (shooting at 43%, while Pau leads the Lakers); even LeBron (who’s stats are pretty ridiculous, 22/6/9, but the Heat have been inconsistent). This week I have to give it to Russ, who I’ve seen do whatever it takes for the Thunder to win, especially as KD is struggling with his shot early in the season. At 25.9, Westbrook’s PER is good for 5th in the league (Gasol, Millsap, Paul, Noah).

On the bubble: Dwight Howard, Al Horford, LeBron James, Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love

Eye on ROY

1. John Wall, 18.1ppg, 4rpg, 9.8apg: The only thing that can stop him is a sprained foot at this point.

2. Blake Griffin, 16.1ppg, 10.2rpg, 1.9apg: Blake struggled a little bit in the past week, only getting one double-double (an 18/18 game against Detroit). Still, he’s having an outstanding season so far.

Power Rankings – who’s hot

New Orleans, 8-1: Dropped their first game to Dallas, who’re a very good team. However, they defeated the Clippers and Blazers by a combined 39 points before that.

San Antonio, 8-1: The Spurs have won 7 straight, and although the victories have been against the Clippers (twice), Suns, Rockets, Bobcats, 6ers and Thunder (the combined record of those teams? 10-31); 7 wins straight is still 7 wins.

Utah, 7-4: Stormed through their Eastern road trip, coming back from 22 against Miami, 18 against Orlando, 11 against Atlanta and 16 points against Charlotte. Including their 18-point comeback to defeat the Clippers, the Jazz came from behind to win 5 straight.

L.A. Lakers, 8-2: They’ve lost a couple of close games in a row, with Denver rallying to defeat them 112-118, and then Phoenix chucking in 22 threes to knock them off by a score of 116-121. Still, they’re the best team in basketball, and the favourite for the title until proven otherwise.

Boston, 8-2: Knocked off the Heat again last week, forcing Wade and LeBron to go a combined 0-10 of threes, while Ray-Ray hit 7-9 by himself. Rondo dished 16 assists in that game, proving that you’ve got a good shot against Miami if you have an elite point-guard.

Power Rankings – who’s not

L.A. Clippers, 1-10: How can a team with this much young talent and potential upside have fallen apart so quickly?

New York, 3-7: They’re the guys that didn’t box out Kevin Love, and they’ve also lost 5 in a row.

Washington, 2-6: Again, how can the two teams with the two best rookies be a combined 3-16? Something’s not quite right here. At least we caught a glimpse of vintage Gilbert in the loss at Chicago, 30 points and 7-10 threes.

Sacramento, 3-6: The Kings have also lost 5 straight, and it’s been a pretty easy stretch too (with the exception of the Lakers, they’ve faced the Grizz, the Wolves, the Suns and the Pistons). Now there’re rumours of rifts in the locker room.

Toronto, 2-8: They try hard, they compete, and they even pulled out a win at Orlando the other day. Still, there’s not quite enough talent on this roster to be competitive on a nightly basis.

Cheers peeps.

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