With the NBA All-Star break rapidly approaching, now is a good time to reflect on the first half of the season. Each team has played about 50 games so far, so it is becoming more and more clear which teams have a shot at the postseason. These first 50 games have also given us a look at which players are truly the best and most talented in the league today, as well as which players are starting to decline. This article will discuss the five biggest things that have been evident throughout the first half of the season, and how they will most likely carry into the second half.
1. The Golden State Warriors will break the regular season win record
There is no argument that the Warriors are the NBA’s best team. Their point guard, Stephen Curry, is also undoubtedly the best player in the league, as well as the league’s best shooter. After winning the championship last year, it was going to be difficult to get any better for the Warriors, but it seems like they are doing just that by having a 45-4 record as of today.
With only 33 more games to play, the chances of them getting to more than 10 losses are not very likely. The only threat to the team in the West is the San Antonio Spurs, who they beat by 30 points not long ago. Sit back and enjoy the run that the Warriors are going on this season because it is going to be historic.
2. The Eastern Conference is just as good as the Western Conference
For years, the West has always been the big brother to the East. This year seems a bit different, as many teams in the East have decent records, compared to the West where the eighth seed Portland Trail Blazers do not even have a winning record. Of course, the Warriors and Spurs are the two best teams in the league, but besides them and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the West is not what it used to be. The Los Angeles Clippers are good, but not great and the Memphis Grizzlies aren’t as consistent as usual.
In the East, the top two teams are the Cleveland Cavaliers and the surprising Toronto Raptors. The rest of the conference is filled with decent teams, such as the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, who will probably not go far in the playoffs but will finish the season with good records. After years of seeing the West dominate, it’s nice to have some parity in the league.
3. Kobe Bryant is making the right decision by retiring
The past few seasons have not been good for Kobe. The Los Angeles Lakers have been terrible and Bryant has had suffered through injuries for a while now. It only makes sense that he would call it quits while he can. The Lower Merion High School product has been amazing to watch over his career, winning five championships and coming 19 points short of Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 100 points in a single game.
As of now, the Lakers are the second-worst team in the league and Kobe is not himself anymore, only averaging 16.7 points per game. The team does have some young talent in Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, but that is basically all that they have and Kobe struggles to keep them in each game. The Spurs’ Tim Duncan is also rumored to be retiring after this season, so it would be nice to see the two retire together after they battled each other for so many years. Appreciate watching Kobe this season because it will be some time before we see a player like him again.
4. The 76ers “Process” Isn’t Working
Once again, the 76ers are one of the NBA’s worst teams. It seems like they are never going to get better due to their rebuilding process that seems like it’s never going to end. They have a young superstar-in-the-making in Jahlil Okafor and a good player in Nerlens Noel, but no one else on the team is anywhere close to being an efficient NBA player. They did almost beat the Warriors last Saturday, but ended up losing by three in the final seconds on a shot by Golden State’s Harrison Barnes.
The Sixers brought in Sam Hinkie a few years ago to be their General Manager. He is an analytics guy, so he tries to bring in certain players that fit his model of a good basketball player. One of his draft choices was Joel Embiid, who still hasn’t played a minute for the Sixers after being drafted two years ago. If they can get Embiid on the floor with Noel and Okafor, they could possibly be a good team, but until then Sixers fans are getting tired of the rebuilding process and they want to see some results.
5. Phil Jackson made the right choice by drafting Kristaps Porzingis
Probably the most criticized draft pick from last year’s draft was the New York Knicks taking Latvian-born Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick. Jackson was blasted by sports talk hosts and writers all around the globe, but Porzingis has had a good season and could be just what the Knicks need going forward.
Even though the Knicks’ record isn’t so great, Porzingis is impressing many people this season. He is averaging 13.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and just about two blocks per game. “The Unicorn,” as the Thunder’s Kevin Durant nicknamed him, is also the master of the put back slam dunk. Porzingis is only 20 years old, so the Knicks having a young star like this is great for the team. If you haven’t had a chance to watch Porzingis play, give him a look and see how talented he is.