Two quick bullets before tonight's game between the Orlando Magic and the Washington Wizards:
Courtney Lee will get his first NBA start in that game, so we'll honor that by making our first item David Thorpe's latest Rookie Watch feature for ESPN. Thorpe's focus this week is defense, and he features Lee most prominently. Here's Thorpe on Lee's performance in the Magic's win over Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat last week:
So as the fourth quarter began, with Wade already having poured in 33 points, Lee was assigned to defend Wade and try to slow him down. Well, the game ended with Wade still stuck on 33 (he was 0-for-3 from the field with zero free throw attempts in the fourth quarter) and Lee further cementing his place in Orlando's rotation. Not because he shut Wade down by himself -- he didn't. Lee simply took [Stan Van Gundy]'s challenge of guarding Wade aggressively, working to stay in front of him and forcing him to drive toward [Dwight] Howard (who blocked one of the three fourth-quarter misses and made Wade alter another).
But Lee gets credit for his offense, too:
It wasn't just his stellar efforts on defense that caught my eye against Miami. His offensive game, while not always efficient, is very solid [....] He's at 39.5 percent from 3 after starting the season 4-for-18 from downtown; he's hit 13 of his past 25 attempts from beyond the arc.
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus has the first in a two-part series in trying to determine the best point guard in the Eastern Conference:
With Jason Kidd in Dallas and Chauncey Billups dealt to Denver, the coveted title of the top point guard in the Eastern Conference has come open this season. With apologies to veterans Mike Bibby, Andre Miller and Mo Williams, stathead favorite Jose Calderon and rapidly improving Derrick Rose and Rodney Stuckey, it is three emerging young point guards--New Jersey's Devin Harris, Orlando's Jameer Nelson and Boston's Rajon Rondo--who are vying for the honor and at most two spots on the East All-Star roster behind the likely starting backcourt of Allen Iverson and Dwyane Wade.
Check the link to see what he says about Nelson, and definitely check back tomorrow to see how Jameer stacks up in comparison to Rondo and Harris.
Ryan McNeill from Hoops Addict spoke with Stan Van Gundy before Sunday's game against the Raptors. Here's the video, in which Stan discusses the team's improved defense and Rashard Lewis' impact in his second Magic season:
Ryan told me to expect more about Lewis in the coming days.