All the highlights, falls, questions and news about the National Basketball Association (NBA) thus far are ready to be discussed.
The Los Angeles Clippers (LAC) claim the top seed in the Western Conference, the Toronto Raptors (TOR) looking better than ever, the Los Angeles Lakers (LAL) are gradually becoming a threat, and the Golden State Warriors (GS) era possibly coming to an end: everything you need to know about this National Basketball Association (NBA) season is here.
Who would have thought the Clippers at 13-6 would be so dominant without any of their former stars? Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one to have thought they would have crumbled under the “rebuild” image they were supposed to maintain. They have six players will above the league average in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and have five players who score double digit points per game (ppg), according to ESPN.
Well, they’re looking more like the winners of all trades this season with the team they’ve built. Being under the salary cap, maintaining convincing competitiveness versus top teams and being an L.A. destination: landing a superstar talent this year is looking like a real possibility.
Add Superstar Small Forward (SF) Kawhi Leonard and watch your franchise blossom. Leonard has really left Toronto feeling guilty for cheering for a DeMar DeRozen-less Raptors squad but can you blame their fans? No. The playing style of Point Guard (PG) Kyle Lowry hasn’t skipped a beat and the production of players one through 12 has increased heavily. The biggest takeaway from this team is the camaraderie, which many believed it to be plagued this season because of the departures of former Head Coach Dwane Casey and Raptors Legend DeRozan. No one on the team has held a grudge but instead have kept things professional, making them the hottest team in the NBA thus far.
For the whirlwind that has been the Los Angeles Lakers in the past years, things looked promising with (SF) LeBron James on their side. However, it was inevitable that the Lakers were going to struggle as they fell below .500 multiple times this season. Their key players (PG) Lonzo Ball, Shooting Guard (SG) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and (G/F) Brandon Ingram have been very inconsistent.
Ball works around the style of players like James, Forward (F) Kyle Kuzma and company, which makes him fall as the game progresses. He doesn’t always play with high intensity or aggressiveness. He is simply averaging lower than double digits in every major category with a PER lower than the league average, according to ESPN. He needs to find his spot on this team where he can consistently be a reliable asset to winning basketball.
Caldwell-Pope has lost his staring spot and has to now fight for minutes with second year (SG) Josh Hart.
Ingram is approaching trade conversations every time he under performs and it’s only a matter of time before the Lakers find themselves in February looking to add a star who will bring their all to every game. Ingram could easily average 20 ppg 5 apg and 6 rpg resulting in a better PER but only shows us flashes of what he could be. In year three, it’s time to make statements or he might see himself in a another uniform.
The Lakers sit on the seventh seed in the Western Conference, in a tight race for first. Kuzma, Center (C) JaVale McGee and (SF) LeBron James have been the glue keeping this team together all season. In order to maintain relevancy, they’ll need more play making from Ball, consistent three-point makes and defensive playmaking as a collective unit.
All-Star (F) Draymond Green has been the aggressor the Warriors depended on but now he’s becoming the one that could play a big part in calling this era over. Green and Superstar (SF) Kevin Durant have recently exchanged their emotions towards one another in the unhealthiest of ways: foreshadowing a Durant signing elsewhere this off-season. Both who have played off the heated exchanges are now playing alongside one another as if nothing happened but in reality the rift is alive.
All-Star (SG) Klay Thompson continues to be really relaxed with this team and on his plans thus far. Klay has always sat backseat to his teammates and always put up numbers beyond those play the same role. If the team implodes from internal actions than things might change. He’s entering the prime of his basketball years and this time Klay could be prioritizing himself over anything else. The one of a kind of unselfish player that is Thompson is could look to head from the Bay to L.A. this offseason if things don’t pick up.
Furthermore, for these Warriors all this is happening with Superstar (PG) Stephen Curry sidelined due to a groin injury. Before the injury Curry was dominating basketball. He was looked at as the favorite for Most Valuable Player (MVP) and a resurgence to his career, reminding everyone why he’s a two-time MVP. Curry looks to make his post-injury debut during the Dubs road trip and with him back, for the Warriors hopes to settle the team into one whole again.
For teams that are falling apart thus far, we’ll keep the list short at: the Washington Wizards (WAS), Utah Jazz (UTH), Phoenix Suns (PHX), and the Cleveland Cavaliers (CLE). The Wizards have finally hit rock bottom with the most experienced ball club they have had, so it might be time to call in all for a total rebuild. The Jazz have underperformed but haven’t hit the panic button yet. Whether it’s a slow start/setback the Jazz must pick things up because non-playoff teams last year like the Lakers and Kings are getting comfortable in the top-eight.
As for the Suns and Cavaliers, they’ve become the epitome that is drafting in the lottery. Potential All-Star (SG) Devin Booker had the world thinking better of the Suns but at their rate it might be time to look into their scouting team for yet another high pick. The Cavaliers are in absolute rebuild, although they just claimed two surprising wins over the Philadelphia 76ers (PHI) and the Houston Rockets (HOU) nothing could be said about them playing winning basketball. They’re ready to choose between draft prospects Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Bol Bol.
Now, for certain players who have become bright spots on their teams are; (PG) Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls (CHI), (SF) Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC), and (G) Derick Rose of the Minnesota Timberwolves (MIN).
LaVine has walked the walk. He’s putting together a season unlike any he has in his past by leading his team in points and assists. He’s averaging career highs in all major categories and with a PER above the league average. LaVine is drawing playing style comparisons to the elite in the game. With (PF) Bobby Portis and (F) Lauri Markkanen set to be back soon, the Bulls could find themselves fighting for a late playoff spot.
George has given the people of Oklahoma what they’ve wanted this season. He’s leading the team in points and steals as well as playing a key role alongside (PG) Russell Westbrook. He hasn’t demanded the ball heavily but has taken control of the game when given the opportunity.
Rose is a fan favorite for not just the T-Wolves but the whole NBA fanbase. A guy that has been through it all has come back stronger than ever averaging 20.5 ppg, 4.6 apg, and 3.6rpg. He’s looking to compete for sixth man of the year and most improved player at this rate. He’s even added a 50-point game this season to along with highlights of prime D-Rose.
The NBA has taken off to an entertaining beginning and with 60 more games to go the storylines will continue to grow.
Who will be top seeded? Who will win MVP? Who will be on the hot seat? All questions will be answered as the rest unfolds.