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"Surprise Starts in the NBA" Article - Any Advice?

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Kettner, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. Kettner

    Kettner New Member

    Chad Kettner

    Surprise Starts in the NBA
    When the top four teams from last years playoffs have combined for five wins and thirteen losses, there are bound to be some surprise teams that are higher up in the standings than what was expected. The NBA season is only one week old and nobody could have predicted the start that we have seen. Some teams that were proclaimed to be destined for the lower half of the league are showing that they can surprise, while many teams that were thought to dominate are simply falling short.

    The whole week can be summarized by one play seen on opening night – a Tyrus Thomas put back dunk overtop of Shaquille O’Neal. Nothing can say “out with the old and in with the new” quite like the jam by that youngster.

    The Hawks, Lakers, Hornets, 76ers, and Jazz have also had their fair share to say while they have turned the predicted standings on its head early on. There is no way for us to believe that this trend is going to continue for the remainder of the season or even the rest of the month. However, why not enjoy the show while it’s happening? The time is now to cut out the standings page from the paper and to give praise where praise is due.

    Sure, the early season may not be treating the Heat, Mavericks, Pistons, or Suns very well so far, but we can all safely bet that they’ll get back on track and be battling it out come playoff time. They will get their glory then, but for now some attention must be given to the surprises of the young season.

    With that said, let’s take an in depth view of the teams that are turning heads across the NBA.

    Atlanta Hawks (3-1)
    Many experts thought that Speedy Claxton’s much-anticipated starting role with the Hawks would bring dividends. Well, the Hawks have seen highflying results, but Claxton has had all but nothing to do with it.

    Joe Johnson has been on fire throughout the first week of action, averaging almost 28 points a game on 48% shooting. However, it is rare for one player to carry a team all by himself, and Johnson’s leadership of the Hawks is no exception. Zaza Pachulia has been averaging over 18 points per contest and Tyrone Lue rescued them from the grave against the Cavaliers. Lue hit a buzzer-beating runner over Lebron James to tie the game at 90 before Joe Johnson stole the show in overtime to carry the Hawks to a 104-95 victory over the Cavaliers.

    These Hawks have plenty to be happy about and have a good opportunity to keep things going for another week as they face the Raptors, Sonics, and Bucks. They are bound to settle down one day or another, and they will, but there is no reason why it has to happen just yet. Hawks fans: enjoy the ride while you can.

    Los Angeles Lakers (4-2)
    The Lakers are giving the Clippers a push in the Battle of Los Angeles and have proved that they aren’t a one-man team, as they were often accused of being last year. Without Kobe Bryant in the lineup, the Lakers pulled off big wins against the Phoenix Suns (114-106) and the Golden State Warriors (110-98). They then continued their success with the superstar in the lineup.

    Andrew Bynum has been a big surprise so far, building upon a solid preseason and making himself the probably starter, even after Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown return from their injuries. He has shot 66% from the field and pulled down 7.2 rebounds per game while also providing a defensive presence down low (1.3 blocks/game). However, the true story in L.A. has been teamwork.

    All the pieces of the puzzle have seemingly fallen together for this squad. Lamar Odom has been piling on the points when needed (28ppg without Kobe) and Luke Walton has developed into a nice complimentary player (15.3ppg, 5.5rpg, and 3.8apg). It’s significant to note that this team is doing all of this with barely any help from Vladimir Radmanovic, their key offseason signing. As he comes along and begins to gel with his new team, there is no telling what could happen. If they can continue to rely more on teamwork and less on Kobe being a one man squad, then they'll be able to avoid collapses like what happened last night in Portland and possibly emerge as a solid playoff contender in the West.
  2. Kettner

    Kettner New Member

    New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (4-0)
    The Hornets are leading the NBA! The Hornets are leading the NBA! Two times for good measure in the same way that they won two home openers for good measure. After pulling out a close one at home in New Orleans against the bolstered Houston Rockets, they followed it up the next game in Oklahoma City with another tight victory, this time against the Golden State Warriors. Their victories have all been within ten points, but that is no reason to put them down. Great teams are defined by how they close out in the clutch, and this young squad is proving that they can do just that.

    The Hornets have added a lot of talent with the additions of Peja Stojakovic, Tyson Chandler, and Bobby Jackson. However, with as much press as these signings have received, you’d think that they were carrying the team throughout each one of the victories. However, rather than taking over games, they have simply found their roles alongside the biggest ticket in (the) town(s): Chris Paul.

    The young sophomore point guard has had his way with opponents throughout the first four games. Paul is averaging 17.5ppg, 10.8apg, and 4.5rpg and shooting 50% from the field. The young Hornets have a bright future with this kid leading the way, however, they have a long way to go before they can truly prove themselves worthy of serious recognition – as they have failed to make the playoffs ever since being moved to the Western Conference in 2004/2005. Big tests coming up this week include the Clippers and the Pistons.

    Philadelphia 76ers (3-2)

    Iverson is still waiting for an NBA Championship and in all likelihood; he’ll continue to wait. However, the 76ers have got off to a strong start with big wins over the highflying Hawks, the improved Magic, and the Shaqless Miami Heat. The only thing this team is missing is a killer instinct, and this will be what keeps them away from continuing the success they saw in their first three games.

    The Sixers have been surging under Iverson's lead, however, if they don't give him any more help than what they've been doing then they'll continue to have problems down the stretch, as seen with their fourth quarter collapse against the Indiana Pacers and the two point loss to the rebuilt Raptors. Nonetheless, they are still in a very good position in the standings and have a lot of positives to draw from the previous four games.

    Allen Iverson is leading the NBA in scoring with 31.4ppg. The amazing thing, with all the shots he’s putting up, is that he is also dishing out over nine assists per contest. Kyle Korver is also showing some promise in his first season as a starter - putting up 16ppg and providing a consistent outside touch. Chris Webber is shooting just 34% from the field with a measly 10ppg (compared to his career average of 21.6ppg). This team has had a surprising start by winning their first three games, but they will not continue to surprise anybody by having an Iverson dominated offense.

    The Sixers have always relied on Iverson to do all the work and they continue to do so. He has always done his job and kept the team respectable, however, that will continue to be the best-case scenario. Look for Philly to fall right back into the pack sooner or later, because there is no way that this team is better than 6th spot in the East.

    Utah Jazz (4-1)
    The Utah Jazz are singing along to their great start to the season. They have been very impressive with two victories over top-tier teams (Phoenix and Detroit), a ten point win over the improved Houston Rockets, and a blowout victory against the fastbreak Golden State Warriors. Their only loss came to, arguably, the best offensive team in the Eastern Conference, the New Jersey Nets.

    Everybody on this jazzy roster is stepping up and playing their part in the success. Carlos Boozer is doing all the grunt work, averaging 19.4ppg and 12.4rpg. Deron Williams is continuing the magic that we saw in the last half of last season, providing 13.2ppg and 6.4apg. Also, Mehmet Okur is proving that last year was no fluke, and is chipping in 17.4ppg and 9.2rpg while providing strong defense as well, blocking Richard Hamilton’s shot in the final seconds of the 103-101 victory over Detroit. All in all, the Utah Jazz are proving to be a together team.

    The tests, however, will continue to come and the Jazz will have to keep up their strong play in order to maintain their stranglehold on the West. They couldn't quite handle the Nets to start their three game road trip and will have to get back on track as they head into Milwaukee and Los Angeles (Clippers) before returning home. As long as Andrei Kirilenko stays healthy, this team will always have a chance to compete because of the defense he brings. The key to their continued success, however, relies mostly on their sophomore point guard. If Williams can hold up, then so can the Jazz.
  3. Appgrad05

    Appgrad05 Active Member

    It reads like you were sitting on a couch, which I suspect you were.

    But I would have lead with the Tyrus Thomas' dunk on Shaq. Describe the dunk in detail, the reaction afterwards of Thomas and Shaq.

    It's obvious you did a lot of research. But show instead of tell.
  4. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Kettner -

    Thanks for posting your story here. And welcome to the workshop.

    There's a lot here to talk about. One of the purposes of a workshop like this is that the suggestions we make on your behalf will be broad and useful enough to be applicable to others. So bear with me.

    With this piece, before we get to the point where we wrestle with specific things like voice and structure (although Appgrad's note to move the Shaq dunk up to the lede is a good one), I'm going to make one really basic practical suggestion.

    Cut the piece in half.

    This isn't meant to be abrupt or mean-spirited. Rather, I think like a lot of folks just finding their footing in the craft, you've included a lot of superfluous language here.

    So the challenge I would make to you is this: whatever your word count is, cut it in half; but do so while retaining as many of the ideas and as much of the information in the original piece as possible.

    You'll have to go through very carefully to discover what's really necessary to the piece and what isn't. And since all writing is rewriting, and you're always going be the only editor you ever really trust, you need to learn early how to edit your own work. Never settle for cliche or a passive voice or dead language.

    I'm sure you're busy with other things, but please try it. Then bring the piece back and we'll compare them to one another. I think you'll be amazed at how much more concise and pointed and lively your own work can be.

    Thanks again for posting.
  5. Appgrad05

    Appgrad05 Active Member

    Great advice, for all of us.
  6. Editude

    Editude Active Member

    Who's the audience? This is a one-week-in, catch-up-with-the-NBA piece that would be read by whom? It's not really analysis but a surface-level description.
  7. Kettner

    Kettner New Member

    If you don't know the audience, then perhaps you've never heard of Sports Center, ESPN, TSN, the Score, and other sports news broadcasts...and as for print - sports illustrated actually posted an article online the day after I submitted this one to be published that was very similar to mine. There are numerous websites that have articles such as this, just look at yahoo sports and fanball.com.

    Also - I'm not quite sure how you can argue that this is not analysis - can you give your reasoning? I agree that it is partly descriptive, but isn't that necessary in order to analyze?

    On other comments: I will definitely re-write it and take your suggestions simply in order to improve my own style. Thanks for the valuable input!
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