The Commish Online                                                                                
The Good, The Blazers, and The Ugly
November 20, 2003
by William K. Wolfrum

With NBA trends beginning to come into focus, now seems like a fabulous time to make some subjective judgments on who has surprised us so far this season.
No, check that. This is all biased, from my point of view. If I’m going to be one of only three people to read this, then my opinion rules. Deal with it, minions.
Delusions of grandeur aside, here are the best and worst surprises through the first dozen or so games:

Best Surprises

Vin Baker, F/C, Boston Celtics, (15.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg):
Ahhh, so he was drunk for four years. That explains that massive pile of steaming goo that was in Baker’s jersey for the last few seasons. Baker is looking fit, playing hard and making shots, and suddenly the Antoine deal isn’t looking so stupid. The Celtics are 5-5 in an extremely mediocre Atlantic Division, and have a good shot at sneaking into the playoffs again, with lots of help from Vin. One question: Are the Sonics or Celtics going to demand some money back from Baker for being drunk the last few seasons? They should.

Chris Bosh, F, Toronto Raptors, (8.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg):
The 2003 draft is going to go down as one of the best in NBA history. Bosh is a terrific player, and I’m sure Detroit wishes they had traded down to get him, though Darko may become Dirk Bird in three years, so who knows. Bosh blocks shots, has impossibly long arms, a good feel for the game and a feathery jumper. Keep feeding him burgers and he could be a 20-10 guy for the Raptors for years to come. Or until he gets the hell out of Canada.

Mark Madsen, F, Minnesota Timberwolves (5.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg):
OK, he’s the whitest person not only in the NBA, but in the galaxy. Albino ghosts think he’s white. Also, never, I repeat NEVER ask him to dance. The T’wolves are struggling a bit at 6-5, but Madsen has come in and played with gusto. He’s the hardest-working, nicest guy in the NBA, and he’s getting 20 minutes a game for the first time in his career. He’s not pretty to watch, but he manages to do some good things out there.

Memphis Grizzlies, 5-4 Midwest Division, Western Conference:
Jerry West is God. That’s why he’s on the NBA logo, folks. Using most of the same players that went 28-54 last season, Memphis is becoming a pain to anyone that plays them. A big reason for the Grizzlies’ success: Jason Williams is suddenly a prototype point guard with flash, instead of a flashy irritating player. He still takes too many threes, but his assist to turnover ratio is 4.7 to 1. Posey and Tsakalidis were great pickups and combined are averaging almost 19 points and 10 rebounds a game. The entire roster is averaging at least 10 minutes a game, which is unheard of in the NBA. It will be interesting to see if Pau and crew can keep it up.

Worst Surprises

Tracy McGrady, G/F, Orlando Magic (25.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg):
McGrady’s great and and will continue to be great, but right now he’s a whiney superstar on a 1-10 team and helped get the coach fired. His numbers are worse then last year’s in almost every category. He blames zone defense, which they had last season.  Not an impressive beginning for a guy we were all starting to respect. And what’s the deal with those commercials where he talks about “Schooling” the young players of the league? Dude, you never went to college either.

Kwame Brown, F, Washington Wizards (6.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg):
OK, next year he’ll get it all together. He’s still dealing with having had to be yelled at by MJ. On the bright side, his numbers are slightly better then Mark Madsen’s. On the down side, his numbers are only slightly better then Mark Madsen’s. It’s actually upsetting to watch Brown play; he’s clueless out there. I mean, it’s basketball, you can’t figure it out after three years? This should have been a breakthrough year for Brown, but let’s face it - it’s not going to happen. A horrible No. 1 pick.

Paul Allen, Owner, Portland Trail Blazers, 5-5, Pacific Division, Western Conference:
I thought the Microsoft Bajillionaire was going to clean house this year? We still have Bonzi Wells cussing out his coach and flipping off fans, Rasheed Wallace getting technicals and being a jerk, Damon Stoudamire up on about seven possession charges and the rest of the team just being annoying. Please Paul, break up the Blazers.

There are other good and bad surprises so far. Manu Ginobilli has been a great story so far, as has Ronald Murray. But I have to save some content for later so the three of us have some more things to read.

William K. Wolfrum is a freelance writer in Southern California.  You can reach him at