Triple Threat Weekly: January Monthly Wrap-Up

Weekly NBA Content by Back of the Jersey

Miss some NBA action the past few weeks? In this week’s edition, Jim Armstrong and Tyler Michels come up with a few conclusions for the month of January. Who has been the NBA’s hottest and coldest teams, along with the player of the month. We will be bringing you monthly wrap-up’s in February, March and April as well.

Which NBA team had the best month of January?

Hottest teams: Atlanta Hawks (15-0), San Antonio Spurs (10-2), Golden State Warriors (11-2), L.A. Clippers (10-3)

Image courtesy of Brownsville Harold


Atlanta Hawks: Although we have some amazing parity in the NBA right now, especially in the Western conference, it’s impossible not to select the Atlanta Hawks. They haven’t lost since Christmas, and are riding an overall 17 game win streak. Back in December, for our second NBA Triple Threat Weekly column, I wrote that Atlanta was not a true contender. I didn’t take them seriously. Now, with the way they’ve been playing (beating quality teams at home and on the road during this winning streak), it would be crazy to ignore them. Jeff Teague (17.0 PPG, 7.5 APG) has developed into one of the game’s best two way guards. Al Horford (15.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG) and Paul Millsap (17.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG) are double-double machines. And DeMarre Carroll (11.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG) and Kyle Korver (13.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG) are some of the most underrated wing defenders in the NBA to go along with their “Chris Kyle American Sniper-like” shooting. The Hawks are going to be a tough out in this year’s playoffs, so it’s time we start paying attention.


Atlanta Hawks: I’m taking the Hawks for many of the same reasons. With the Warriors falling to the Bulls earlier this week in overtime, the crown of ‘hottest team’ officially moves to the southeast, with the Hawks. I’m also taking them for their overall body of work during the first half of the NBA season. Who had Atlanta in the top half of the Eastern Conference, much less running away with the #1 seed, 7 games (and counting) ahead of the #2 seed Toronto Raptors? It’s a bit unfair for the Warriors, who play in a conference where the #11 seeded Denver Nuggets would qualify for the playoffs in the East but there’s no doubting the credentials of Atlanta. Here’s the clincher: the Hawks have defeated Portland, the Clippers, Memphis, Toronto & Chicago all in the month of January. Atlanta’s for real and it’s about time the rest of the league took notice.

Which NBA team had the worst month of January?

Coldest teams: N.Y. Knicks (4-8), Philadelphia 76ers (5-11), Brooklyn Nets (3-11), L.A. Lakers (2-12)


Brooklyn Nets: Here at Back of the Jersey, we like to give equal time to the losers. It’s only right, because my favorite teams (as well as Jim’s) seem to always be near the bottom of the barrel in every professional sports league.

The Nets have been a disaster from the start of this season, but have been particularly bad in the month of January. Brooklyn’s lost 11 of their last 14 , including a mid-month stretch of 7 straight. Kevin Garnett, as Jim alluded to in our last column, is completely over-the-hill. Deron Williams has been out nearly the entire month with fractured ribs. And Brook Lopez is not the complete player the Nets had hoped he would be. Although they still might end up making the playoffs, the Nets roster is a mess going forward. They are way over the salary cap, tied up with some disastrous contracts. No wonder their Russian owner has been actively trying to sell the team. Hey, at least they’re better than the Knicks, right?


Los Angeles Lakers: I 110% agree with the Nets selection. That team was a supposed to be a ‘win now’ team and now they’re in the never-never land of NBA hoops, drifting somewhere between the #7 & #10 seed in the Eastern Conference…basketball purgatory. With that being said, who would have thought at the conclusion of the 2010 season (less than 5 years ago) that the proud and decorated Lakers franchise would be competing for the league’s worst record? For them to be good in the reasonably near future (next 3 years), they need to continue to play awful basketball, to secure a potential top 5 pick next year (given the high likelihood that they land in the lottery). I leave you with one question: who on this team is a tradable asset? Exactly my point.

Which player had the strongest month of January?

Image courtesy of Spokeo

Candidates: LeBron James, Klay Thompson, James Harden, Jeff Teague


Klay Thompson: The Super-Splash Brothers (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) have been nothing short of amazing. With the 2014-2015 season featuring some of the best backcourts the NBA has seen in years, Curry and Thompson have to be on the top of that list. Focusing on Klay’s hot month of January, the two-guard from Washington State put up 27.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and an astounding 52% from 3-pt range, (including a record setting 37 point fourth quarter versus Sacramento). To go along with these incredible statistics, Thompson’s Warriors continue to win – going 11-3 in that span.

Despite calls from NBA legend’s such as Magic Johnson, I am not yet ready to hail Klay Thompson as the second best all-around player in the league. But, one thing I will say: this guy is an NBA fan’s dream to watch.


James Harden: Harden has been an absolute monster this season, particularly in the month of January. Dwight Howard has missed more than 1/3 of his team’s games in the first half of the season, which won’t change anytime soon with Howard likely to miss extended time with his bothersome right knee injury. For a team that lost Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons in the offseason, Harden has done his part and more in carrying Houston to a 32-14 record, good for 5.5 games back of 1st place.

Although his PPG in January dropped a bit from December (26.6 PPG vs. an absurd 30.6 PPG in December) he continues to shine on the biggest stages. He poured in 31 points in a win over OKC, 33 in a 2-point loss to Phoenix and 30 in back-to-back wins over Utah and Brooklyn during the month of January. Harden is averaging 10 free throw attempts a game to go along with an absurd 24.6 PER (player efficiency rating), much of which can be attributed to his improved defense. James Harden by all measures is the best 2-guard in the NBA at 25 years of age. That’s a scary thought.

About Tyler Michels

Tyler is an NC State alum living in Raleigh, NC. Growing up in Northwest New Jersey, Tyler developed a love for New York sports teams, driving his desire to become a writer. In his free time, Tyler can probably be found on a golf course.

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