The first month of the NBA season can be a haven for the much maligned players in the league. You have a few good performances in your first couple of weeks, and all of a sudden the fans are off your back. “He must have really worked on that jump shot over the off-season!”… “Wow, he’s shedded a few pounds and it’s making a huge difference!”… “I think he’s finally starting to mature as a player!” This of course, can be far from the truth. The same players may very well suck just as much as they used to, but the five month break has erased the painful memories from your mind, and you naturally approach the new season with a load more optimism and hope.

Thus, the first month of the Doubting Thomas Award is a crucial one. Are the players that flew out of the gates (Dragic, Frye, Gallinari) really starting to prove the doubters wrong? Or are they just getting fans’ hopes up in preparation for a downward spiral of epic failure for the rest of the season? Are the guys waiting in the wings just struggling to get the opportunities (POB, Belinelli), showing glimpses of improvement in the limited burn they’re getting? Or is it possible that these players have somehow gotten worse (Kwame), resigned to the shitty little role they’re supposed to play, and falling out of favour with their coaches? These questions may or may not be answered in this, the DTA November Rankings.

You’ve met the players and the bloggers. Now it’s time to see just how they stack up against each other. The numbers quoted here are through November, and the rankings are solely based on performances during the month. The ‘Dare you doubt?’ bit is edited by yours truly, while everything else comes directly from the mouth of those respective authors. Remember, the #1 ranked player at the end of the season gets their face in the NBAMate Wall of Fame. But as Phil Jackson would say, “it’s the journey that’s important”.

#1

Danilo Gallinari

Games played (through November): 12 Games started: 12
Minutes per game: 28.5 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 30 points, 8 threes, 3 assists, 3 rebounds (vs PHI 31/10)
Averages: 13.2ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.4apg, 0.9spg, 0.6bpg, 44% FG, 40% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: A player in New York is actually exceeding their expectations. I don’t remember when this last happened.

Highlight of the month: 30pt outburst versus the Sixers including a career high 8 threes (technically late October, but we’ll give it to him)
Best sign he should not be doubted? Hedo Turkoglu is averaging 13.7ppg, 4.5rpg, 3.9apg, and shooting 45% from the field, 42% from 3, 80% from the line. Only difference between the two players is 7 minutes more court time for Hedo, and a massive difference in salary and respect around the league.

In the first month of the season Gallo has been like most South Australian politicians, coming on strong then backing off when it’s time to cuddle. He’s kinda like other Knicks. Here one minute, gone the next. But for the first time this DECADE, it has not been the doom and gloom Knick fans have grown accustomed to. Not like Eddy Curry, potential All-Star one year, 9 minutes of court time the next. Not like Stephon Marbury, on a road trip with Isiah on the West Coast one minute, flying back to NY on his personal jet the next. Not like Jamal Crawford, 37pts one night versus a top tier team, 3pts the next versus a struggling team. Unlike other Knicks of the past, Gallo puts in work when his offense ain’t there. Basically this is his rookie season, as he struggled to get on the court for only 28 games last season. To open the 09-10 season Gallo dropped 18 three pointers in the first 3 games to announce to the doubters of the league and Knicks that he is fo’ reeeal. The Big Cock as he is affectionately known (translation of his Italian nickname the Big Rooster) has put the league on notice that the Knicks might have a gem up their sleeves. The thing most casual fans will miss is his willingness to take the big shot and play D in crunch time. He loves it, he craves it. He has had crunch time opportunities already this season, nailing last minute shots against the 76ers and Bobcats to keep the struggling Knicks in the game. His defense against New Orleans helped secure a win and Gallo’s early offensive aggression helped the Knicks down the Nets (despite Nate’s attempts to do otherwise). Gallo has won the Garden crowd over with his humble style of play and his willingness to get dirrrty on the D, something most Knicks seem allergic to.

Where do your loyalties stand in this comp? Channing Frye? Gallinari has more balls than he has fingers. Marco Belinelli (aka “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”)? Since when does being a by-product of a Charlie Bell & Don Nelson love affair earn you respect? The Notorious P.O.B? Mo’ Minutes, Mo’ Problems for any team he suits up for. Kwame Brown? C’mon Rob, some jokes just ain’t funny no more. Gallo is where it’s at yo.

Many doubt, many laugh, but Danilo is going to prove them all wrong and show that Donnie Walsh made a “slam dunk” when he made this pick last year. Prepare some room on the Wall of Fame, the Cock is coming! The real question is, does LeBron like Cock?
Tizzle, NBAMate

#2

Channing Frye

Games played: 13 Games started: 13
Minutes per game: 29.5 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 25 points, 6 threes, 5 rebounds, 2 steals vs MIN (1/11)
Averages: 12.4ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.6apg, 0.8spg, 1.0bpg, 44% FG, 42.5% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: Nobody expected this. Would have nabbed #1 spot but lacks an epic nickname like The Cock.

Channing Frye has already hit more threes this season than his past four seasons combined. Looking at his career shooting numbers prior to 2009/2010, there’s no way you could have predicted this kind of output. There seems to be one main reason for these improvements.

That reason is Steve Nash.

It seems everyone not named Shaquille O”Neal gets better when playing with this guy. Not only is he being fed the ball far better than at any other time in his career but he actually seems to be in a system that suits him. Although born in New York, Frye is an Arizona native via his college days and seems to be another player who has thrived since returning “home”. It”s safe to say his time in his original home wasn”t so good. His rebounding, steal and 3pt % numbers are up, as are his assist numbers albeit slightly. But hey, when your career stat line for assists, steals and blocks all start with a zero and a decimal point, all improvements are newsworthy.

Frye has had a few highlight games this season already including outbursts of production against the Warriors, Wolves and Wizards. It”s no coincidence that the letter “W” is a common theme, as the Suns have got away to an almost invincible 11-3 start.

I give Channing Frye a strong B+ as an early season rating. His play has been solid and much improved on past seasons results. The test will be to maintain momentum and potentially increase his output. I guess the same can be said for the Phoenix Suns. While he”s no top-tier Fantasy Basketball stud yet, he may just be making his way to respectability in Phoenix.
Paul, Two Sides of the Hoop

#3

J.J Redick

Games played: 14 Games started: 6
Minutes per game: 25.0 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 27 points (5-8 threes), 6 rebounds, 5 assists vs TOR (1/11)
Averages: 9.4ppg, 2.1apg, 2.1rpg, 0.3spg, 0.0bpg. 43.2% FG, 42.6% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: Just quietly, has had a terrific start to the season. And better positioned than most to sustain it.

Well J.J. has certainly been flying under the radar. So far under in fact that I misspelt his name in the last column. How”s THAT for undervalued. J.J. has this award in the bag.

Oh, and great news everyone – Redick”s “rap super group” have nearly finished their first song! As for what my main man J.J. has been doing on court, well if every game was against the Toronto Raptors then he’d be averaging 23 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds. Unfortunately Stan Van Gundy insists he play other teams as well so Redick”s averages are a more pedestrian 10 points, 2.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds. Strangely the spikes in statistics correlate exactly to his getting more court time so the projection for him looks good. After the next two difficult games against Miami and a very strong Atlanta, the forecast is for blowouts as the Magic visit the Bucks, then have a home and home with the Knicks and follow that up with visits to Golden State and the Clippers. Should be a chance for J.J. to both shine on court and pop into Snoops house in LA to get some help on that much needed hook for his first single.

Keep your ears tuned to the radio in anticipation of J.J”s single and your eyes glued here for all the inside dirt on the enigmatic J.J. Redick.
Ryan, Two Sides of the Hoop

#4

Goran Dragic

Games played: 13 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 15.4 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 14 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds vs NOH (11/11)
Averages: 6.8ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.7apg, 0.5spg, 0.1bpg, 41.9% FG, 42.3% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: I see it but I do not believe it. Come back to me when the Suns honeymoon period wears off

Dragic has started off this season with confidence, partly due to averaging significantly more minutes than previous seasons. With Lopez out and Barbosa playing limited minutes due to a hand injury, Gentry had to find himself some more bench mins; Goran Dragic had style, he had flair, he was there, that”s how he became the Nanny.

I don’t know why, but this photo already existed on the Internet

Dragic”s confidence has continued to grow as November progressed. His best line was against the Hornets of 14pts (5/11 shooting), 7 assists and 7 rebounds, and most recently he outplayed both Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum in a domination over Detroit. When he”s running the show with Nash on the bench, he’s directing traffic and being aggressive which is exactly what you want from your backup point guard (and he’s in Nash’s good books, this from Stevie’s Twitter earlier in the week: “Any1 c Tinsley drble btw Dragic legs & hit a floater only 2 have Dragic go back btw Tinsley”s legs a min later? Dragic showed heart & Comedy”). You will notice teams playing off him and showing him much more respect then they did last year. Far from being the train wreck that used to come in and destroy the Suns leads, Dragic is not only holding his own, but pushing to extend leads. Sure, at times he’s going to make mistakes but his assist to turnover ratio is a healthy 2.57 which is the exact same as Nash, Kidd, Paul and many others, and he’s 7th in the league in assists per 48 minutes ahead of Paul, Williams, Curry, and Parker. To top it all off, he”s shooting free throws like a future Hall of Famer! Unfortunately that future HOFer is Shaq. On the occasion that Dragic gets to the line we can count on him to put up a couple of bricks. This takes him out of ever being in a close end of game situation, which is fine because I”m sure Gentry would want Nash on the court instead.

Hollinger claimed in his 2010 outlook that “Dragic would need to make a fairly impressive leap just to be competent.” I”d say that Dragic has made that leap, and then some.
Chucko, Frustrated Suns Fan

#5

Marco Belinelli

Games played: 14 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 19.8 DNP’s: 1
Best game: 19 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist vs UTA (18/11)
Averages: 9.1ppg, 1.4rpg, 1.9apg, 0.6spg, 0.1bpg, 44%FG, 43.5% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: We’re one month in, which is about the same duration as Summer League. So yeah, I’m a little wary.

Marco Belinelli — make sure you get the pronunciation right, because you”re going to need to know this name one day. Bell-EE-nell-EE. Or you can perhaps just pronounce it, Good-Bye-Nellie. That”s because the best thing that could have happened for the guard from Bologna was getting out of Don Nelson”s inconsistent rotation in Golden State.

After playing in just 33 and 42 games in his first two seasons in the league, with the Warriors, Belinelli has been given a breath of fresh air in Toronto. Playing under coach Jay Triano and alongside Italian teammate Andrea Bargnani, Beli”s role has been much more defined. He has only missed one game so far this season, with that being due to injury. Playing at shooting guard behind DeMar DeRozan, he is the leading scorer off the bench, at a career-high 9.0ppg. His 44.8% FG, 44.0% 3PT and 80.0% FT percentages are also career highs in what is perhaps indicative of a more defined role within the offence.

Already this season, Beli has knocked down at least 3 treys in a game on four occasions. As part of the second unit backcourt with Jarrett Jack, he is a clear ball-handler within the offence, already dishing off some nifty assists this season, including this one:

We”ll be watching on with interest as the season progresses and Beli”s contributions rise, like the dough on a gourmet Italian pizza.
Mookie, A Stern Warning

#6

Corey Brewer

Games played: 14 Games started: 14
Minutes per game: 14.3 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 22 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists vs DEN (25/11)
Averages: 11.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.5apg, 2.0spg, 0.6bpg, 37.1 FG%, 19.4 3PT%
Dare you Doubt?: One of the few in this list who’s a bonafide starter. Also shooting worse than everyone not named Roko Ukic.

COMING SOON…
Anton, The Sport Count

#7

Patrick O’Bryant

Games played: 3 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 5.0 DNP’s: 11
Best game: 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal vs DEN (17/11)
Averages: 2.7ppg, 1.0rpg, 0.0apg, 0.33spg, 0.00bpg, 66% FG
Dare you Doubt?:
Still waiting for him to block a shot this season, so yeah, I doubt.

What if I told you that the 9th pick from the 2006 draft was averaging 20 points and 7 rebounds? What if I told you this big man provided you with some length and youth? You”d be psyched, right? Right? Well, shoot. Project O”Bryant is averaging 20 and 7 this season… Per 36 minuntes. POB has really only played a total of 15 minutes this season. Against the Hornets on 11/6, he nailed an egg in the points category and added 1 rebound and 2 fouls. Get up, Toronto! Against Dallas on 11/7, POB was a blistering 2-2 from the field (100%, suckas!) and tossed in a turnover. Most Improved, anyone? Against the Nuggs on 11/17, POB added another valiant effort with 4 points (2-3 from the field) and 2 rebounds. A friggin steal at 1.6 million!!!!

Well, not really. I figured the poor fellow was injured with those minutes. Nope. The most exciting things about POB in the last few days? His tweets (@13pob13). From yesterday: “on that note just landed in char and I am tired!!! Can”t wait to get in the bed.” Think his teammates will even notice if he sleeps in and misses his game? A tweet from yesterday as well: “simply joking w a follower. I am in no way a racist. Just think that show is hilarious.” POB was quoting the Chapelle Show to a follower. That can”t be good for his or his team”s PR. Good thing no one cares about him.
Loscy, Loscy Celtics Blog

#8

Kwame Brown

Games played: 11 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 14.3 DNP’s: 2
Best game: 7 points, 8 boards, 1 steal vs PHI (8/11)
Averages: 3.6ppg, 4.1rpg, 0.8apg, 0.2spg, 0.2bpg, 44%FG
Dare you Doubt?: Kwame is a renowned slow starter, so I still have faith. Of course, Kwame is also a slow finisher so he has about two months to turn this around.

A fair measure of Detroit’s struggles through November is the fact they’re allowing Kwame Brown to play 14 minutes a game. But you know what? As much as it pains me to say this, we need Kwame Brown. We can’t rely on Grandpa Wallace shouldering the load inside, day-in day-out. We need Kwame’s 12.7 rebounds per game (per 48 minutes). We need his 6-11 size (he’s the biggest guy on our roster). We need someone to plug the middle when we go to a three-guard line up (seems to be happening 90% of the time lately). So we do need Kwame Brown, and his opportunities will be there if he wants them. Problem is, he doesn’t. Kwame’s most productive games so far this season are games when the Pistons get blown out, and he gets extra PT. They are not your “second best center” kind of minutes. They are “throw in the towel” kind of minutes. Admittedly the Pistons have had extreme bad luck with injuries (how do your three best players get injured within the first month of the season?!), and Kwame’s impact has thus been lessened. But when the chips are down and your best players are hurting, that is EXACTLY when you can step up to prove the doubters wrong. Emphatically, Kwame has not done that. The only thing stopping him sliding further down this list is the fact he’s getting minutes. 14 of them a game.
Rob D, NBAMate

#9

Roko Ukic

Games played: 7 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 0.4 DNP’s: 4
Best game: 3 points, 1 assist and almost 1 steal vs NYK (7/11)
Averages: 1.3ppg, 0.0rpg, 0.7apg, 0.0spg, 0.0bpg, 30%FG
Dare you Doubt? DNPs are approaching number of games played. Not a good sign for a Doubting Thomas candidate.

Not much to report on the Roko Ukic front. The doubters still doubt, as evidenced by the words “awful” and “Roko Ukic” recently used in the same sentence.

Highlights: He did pick up a season-high 9 minutes of playing time in their win against Memphis, picking up a basket, an assist and most importantly, the win. The Bucks are playing above .500 ball, all thanks to Roko, well maybe not so much Roko but he”s making a contribution at least. The fact that he’s getting minutes here and there as opposed to a string of “DNP-CDs” is good news, right?

Lowlights: Brandon Jennings hasn’t hit that so-called “rookie wall” yet (but he will, I’m sure of it) and Luke Ridnour is doing a solid job at the backup PG position, so Roko sits patiently at the end of the bench, just waiting for his turn to break out for 55 points.

The key stat? For every game that Roko appeared in for the month of November, the Bucks are 5-2. Case closed.

FREE ROKO.
Romy, Hip Hoop Junkies

#10

Chris Quinn

Games played: 0 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 0.0 DNP’s: 12
Best game: 0 points, 0 assists, 12/13 bench towel-waves vs ORL(25/11)
Averages: 0.0 for everything
Dare you Doubt? When your DNP-to-Games-Played ratio is mathematically incalculable, you are by default ending up last in the DTA rankings.

Chris Quinn”s vital stats thus far this season are alarming on first glance. 0.00 minutes, 0 points, 0 assists and 0 steals. But most of that can be attributed to injury, which Yahoo.com Fantasy tells me is the excuse we can use up to November the 17th. Since that November 17 date, we”ve seen a remarkable jump in Mario Chalmers statistics. Mario”s season averages were 10.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg and 4.7apg– but since Quinn became active on the bench (Nov. 17) Chalmers” averages jumped to 14.25 ppg, 3.0rpg and 4.5apg. Remarkable changes quite obviously. Such is the Chris Quinn factor, which clearly makes Quinn the early favourite for the first ever Doubting Thomas Award.
Jobba, NBAMate


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