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Observation Deck (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday January 2, 2007 5:02PM; Updated: Wednesday January 3, 2007 12:24PM
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Trevor Ariza has been a solid contributor off the bench for the Magic.
Trevor Ariza has been a solid contributor off the bench for the Magic.

• Ex-Knick Trevor Ariza is averaging 8.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and a steal in just under 23 minutes per game in his first season with Orlando. Meanwhile, current Knick Jared Jeffries is 7.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 30 minutes. A wash, you'd think, but to my eyes, Ariza plays much better defense (Jeffries has long been overhyped, especially as Washington's vaunted "defensive stopper"), turns the ball over fewer times per minute, is five years younger and makes $2 million a year less.

• One reason the Bulls don't mind keeping Ben Gordon (20.2 points per game) on their bench has been the improved play of a healthy Chris Duhon. Not only has Duhon improved his three-point shooting from last season (36 to 38 percent), but his two-point touch has taken a sharp spike. Showcasing an improved floater in the lane and a willingness to use his left hand, Duhon's percentage inside the arc has jumped from 44 percent in 2005-06 to 52 percent this season.

• While playing for a roster spot during the preseason, Celtics center Michael Olowokandi logged just 9.2 minutes per game but averaged a pro-rated 19.3 rebounds per 48 minutes. After making the team, Olowokandi is averaging just 12 minutes and a more sensible 9.2 boards per 48 in the regular season. Good to see you back, Kandi Man.

• After a slow start, Minnesota rookie Randy Foye is starting to find his touch, averaging 12.1 points in his last 10 games without breaking the 27-minute barrier once. Coach Dwane Casey is going to have to figure out that last part because Foye is the offense-starved Timberwolves' second-best per-minute scorer.

While we're at it, if anyone can explain the logic behind Minnesota's trading for combo guard Marko Jaric, spending the bulk of its free-agent cash on 31-year-old combo guard Mike James, and then drafting combo guard Foye, I'd like to hear it. It makes those rumored Kevin Garnett trade scenarios even more laughable because they invariably have the Wolves demanding Bulls combo guard Gordon. Then again, Kevin McHale apparently has a type ...

• Has anyone had a more underappreciated season than Charlotte's Sean May? The second-year forward is averaging 12.1 points and 6.6 rebounds in 23.4 minutes over his first 25 games. Outside of Chris Paul, Deron Williams and David Lee, no other 2005 draft pick is playing as well. May is shooting 52.2 percent from the floor, and he's got to die a little inside every time he sees Adam Morrison (14.1 shots per game, 37.2 percent from the field) square up for another miss.

• He makes less than the average salary ($4.55 millon), his contract expires this summer, he takes boatloads of charges, defends well and nails three-pointers. He's Morris Peterson, and your favorite team should be trying to trade for him. He certainly doesn't belong anymore in Toronto, where he's somehow losing a minutes battle to the overrated Fred Jones.

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