The Atlanta Hawks are red hot, and that is grabbing the Atlanta-based headlines at the moment (with good reason). Still, Las Vegas is brimming with angles to examine, and it is time to take a deep dive into my consciousness for another day. Here we are:
- I continue to be mystified by Noah Vonleh. Going back to Indiana, he was almost always unimpressive for whole-game viewing, and that hasn't changed in Las Vegas. On Thursday, he put up 6 points on 3 for 11 shooting with 5 rebounds in 17 minutes, but for long periods of time, you almost forget he is out there, and the explosive athleticism is often hidden.
- Quincy Acy is a grown-up. The bulky power forward threw down two massive dunks while playing for the T-Wolves against the Kings, and his rim protection was certainly up to par. Height concerns will always limit him, but there is a place in the league for an explosive player who defends like he can.
- It feels like everyone has forgotten about Ben McLemore... including the Kings. Sacramento picked Nik Stauskas, who happens to play the same position, just one season after taking McLemore in the lottery, but he looks quite good in Vegas. Thursday was his best outing, with 22 points (on 11 FGA) and 6 rebounds, but more importantly, his athleticism is translating effectively.
- I'm a big fan of C.J. McCollum. Portland's 2013 first-rounder didn't have a big game against the Hawks on Thursday (6 for 15 shooting), but he managed to get his numbers anyway (17 points) and McCollum seems to always be in the paint. It is easy to forget McCollum after he was buried behind Damian Lillard and company as a rookie, but he's a player in this league.
- Andrew Wiggins is (obviously) attracting a lot of attention in Vegas, and with good reason, but his stat line on Thursday was jarring. Wiggins managed to rack up 21 points on just 5 field goal attempts (he made 3), simply because he was able to get to the line 20 times in Cleveland's loss to Houston. Getting to the line is almost always an underrated skill, and that is a good sign for the Cavs.
- Speaking of Cavs-Rockets, Houston's Isaiah Canaan stole the show from the star-driven Cleveland squad. The talented guard exploded for 28 points on 16 field goal attempts, and he raised his level of play late, out-dueling Wiggins down the stretch (after Houston had blown the lead) and finishing things off with a big bucket. The Rockets will likely add Canaan to their guard rotation in the aftermath of jettisoning Jeremy Lin, and the talent is real.
- It has not been a good week for Shabazz Napier. We touched on the Heat point guard earlier in the trip, but Napier went 5 for 18 from the floor in a loss to the Wizards, and with only 1 assist against 3 turnovers, there wasn't a lot else to save him. I'm still a long-term believer in his skill set, but rookies can lose steam in Las Vegas, and the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player falls into that category this year.
The Hawks will be in action on Saturday evening, but we will be back with the diary again from Friday's action. Stay tuned.