From a budding star breaking into Top DOG territory, to an emerging Star UnderDOG with sights set on the Most Improved Player award, to a former All-Star center who’s rediscovering some rhythm, here are the DOGS of the Week!
Top DOG of the Week:
Draymond Green (3-1 record, wins over SAC, HOU, & DAL)
“It’s pretty amazing.” – Draymond Green
Let the week of Dec. 28, 2015 be known as the official “arrival” of Draymond Green into true, Top DOG territory. Although Green was hot last season, he only began knocking on stardom’s door after showing improvement this year.
But after a spectacular, 29-point, 17-rebound, 14-assist showing in a comeback victory over Denver (only player to post such numbers since Larry Bird in 1987), Green defiantly blasted the door into a million pieces. Named the Western Conference Player of the Week, Green is drawing comparisons to fellow Michigan State Spartan, and all-time great, Magic Johnson.
Green absolutely controlled the flow of the offense as a playmaking four man (16 assists v. HOU, 14 assists v. DEN), a sort of “point forward” with a power game and incredible defensive intensity to match.
The reason why Golden State remains on pace to challenge the 72-10 mark by the ’96 Bulls is due to Green’s ability to play the role of Top DOG without Stephen Curry in the lineup.
Now, however, Dray’s boosted his status from co-star to leading man…a distinction he’ll ride on the way to a “no-doubter” All-Star berth this February.
UnderDOG of the Week:
CJ McCollum (3-1 record, wins over SAC, DEN & DEN)
“We have no answers for him.” – Mike Malone
Above, is a candid statement from Denver’s Mike Malone regarding his squad’s ability to corral red-hot CJ McCollum, a Star UnderDOG who is crossing into the Top DOG threshold super, super quickly. ICYMI, we took note of CJ’s crazy 35-point, 11-board, 9-assist showing v. SacTown, where he completely crushed the Kings during crunch time with timely buckets and dimes.
Not only is CJ playing PG in the wake of Damian Lillard‘s plantar fasciitis, he’s shown the ability to control either guard spot for years to come. Basically, Portland has TWO Lillards on their hands – fearless attackers who could easily alternate big shot-making (CJ can score off-balance, squared up, after a screen, off the bounce) and crafty playmaking.
After destroying the Kings, CJ busted up Denver twice (combined for 53 points and 11 dimes, both victories) and posted 32 points in a loss to Utah.
Over the week, CJ became the 4th player in the NBA to post four straight games of at least 25 points on 50% shooting or better.
Might as well close the ballots for Most Improved Player!
Salty DOG of the Week:
Dwight Howard (0-3 record, losses to ATL, GS, & SA)
“Dwight wanted to stay just to get a little bit of a rhythm.” – JB Bickerstaff
We normally don’t award a “DOG of the Week” honor to someone whose team couldn’t get on the winning column but Dwight Howard turned back the hands of time and went back to hooping last week.
No more clamoring for extended minutes or an increased role in the offense, Dwight buckled down, found his groove and started dominating once again.
Case in point on Saturday v. San Antonio. Though the game was already decided to start the 4th quarter, Howard urged Coach JB Bickerstaff to keep him in the game so he could build upon the momentum gained after blasting the Hawks for 30 & 16 and working out of the post for 21 points and 15 boards v. the Dubs.
Though Houston’s record did not benefit from Dwight’s resurgence, it’s an encouraging sign moving forward.