BY the end of the week almost every team will have played their 41st game, signalling the halfway point of their season. It seems like just yesterday that we were all losing our shit over Gordon Hayward’s horrific injury and Lonzo Ball’s first career triple-double and in the three months that have past the 2017-18 season has painted it’s very own narrative, educating us in the ways of basketball along the way.
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No. 1: The Bucks Are Still One Trade Away
I had indifferent thoughts about the Bledsoe move, however, I have warmed to the dynamic guard being a good get for Milwaukee. Their ceiling in 2018 and moving forward though still remains capped, no matter what video game style numbers Antetokounmpo throws up. At 21-18 sitting in the 6th seed right now, they are on track to finish just about where I predicted and I would look out for them to make a serious play at someone like DeAndre Jordan, should he become available closer to the deadline.
No. 2: Yes, In Year 15 LeBron May Be Having His Best Season Ever
THIS fucking guy, seriously. He is putting up a career-best nine assists a night and is shooting the ball almost better than ever playing over 37 minutes a game. Forget what you know about the teams’ recent struggles, 1,101 games into his career LeBron still looks like he is in his prime, just a few weeks after celebrating his 33rd birthday. All hail the King.
Image from sbnation.com
No. 3: Paul George Is Still Going To LA
I don’t care what anyone else says, this is as good as done. Some think that if OKC does super well that he consider staying with the team and sign long term. Baloney. George wants nothing more than to play for his beloved hometown Lakers. And after seeing the way Oladipo (more from him soon) has flourished away from Westbrook’s shadow, can you blame him?
No. 4: Boogie And The Brow.
Great Name For A Buddy Cop Show, Not A Great Recipe For Success In NOLA
IT’S a shame because I thought this Pelicans team could be heaps of fun. Thought. I still don’t know why they haven’t surrounded the two best big men in basketball (when healthy) with better wings and shooters, but I’m not an NBA GM. All I know is that the Pelicans hovering around .500 shouldn’t be happening, and isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
No. 5: A Rookie Class For The History Books?
THERE have been some impressive rookie classes that have come through the league in the past. The classes of ’84, ’96 and ’03 stand out particularly and maybe the class of ’17 will join that illustrious group. Simmons is unlike anything we have ever seen, Jayson Tatum is playing like a five-time All-Star, Donovan Mitchell looks like Dwyane Wade with a three-point shot and Kyle Kuzma is the Lakers best rook so far. Throw in another dozen or so others first years’ making meaningful contributions with their squads and there is plenty of reasons to be excited about generation next.
No. 6: Lavar Ball. Enough Said
I’M still not sure if this guy is insane or a genius and I’ve come to the conclusion he is both. The man has two sons playing pro ball in Lithuania and ESPN has sent reporters there just to cover him and his boys. Just when he goes quite for a few days he rears his head calling out Luke Walton or reminding everyone that the Big Baller Brand is still alive. It’s hilarious for all the wrong reasons, but one thing’s for certain he’s not going to go away.
No. 7: LaMarcus Aldridge Has Resurrected His Career And His Reputation
IN the offseason Aldridge’s days at San Antonio were numbered. The experiment to bring him in as Kawhi Leonard’s sidekick didn’t pan out and it was virtually a matter of time before he was dealt. Then after no buyers emerged the season started, and LaMarcus started balling. In the 27 games before Leonard made his return from injury Aldridge carried the Spurs on his back, averaging over 22 points and eight boards a game, while not only keeping San Antonio afloat but helping them dominate. A few months is a long time in basketball.
No. 8: Trusting The Process Is Now Compulsory
YOU can’t watch a full Philadelphia game with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid without getting excited at least once. Whether it’s a dunk, a pass, a pass for a dunk or just Embiid hyping up the crowd the Sixers are once again fun to watch and they have two transcendent stars on their hands. Simmons is putting up rookie numbers previously only seen by Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson and the Embiid/Olajuwon comparisons are getting harder to ignore with every game he plays. I can feel Sam Hinkie smiling.
No. 9: Kevin Durant Can Win The Defensive Player Of The Year Award…
AND let’s be honest he probably will at this rate. Since they started recording blocks in the 1973-74 season only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and David Robinson have led a season in scoring and in blocks, both in different years. Kevin Durant could become the third player in that group if he keeps playing the way he is for the second half of the year. At the moment Durant is pacing the NBA with 2.27 rejections per and with the return of Curry to the lineup, there’s no reason why he won’t increase that number and boost his DPOY case.
No. 10: …But Steph Curry Is Still the MVP
AS good as KD has been this year, Steph Curry looks like he’s recaptured his MVP form. Since returning from an ankle injury in late December he is averaging over 35 points a game and is back to his unreal confident self, pulling up from 30 feet and letting transition 3’s fly. If he keeps up this torrid pace and the Warriors stay on track to win 65+ games there’s a real chance he will win his third league MVP award.
Image from warriorsworld.net
No. 11: Victor Oladipo Is Very, Very Good
FINALLY!! I have been in Oladipo’s camp since he came out of Indiana and after bouncing around for a few years he has landed on both feet back in the Hoosier State. He is playing like a true All-Star and is leading a surging Pacers team up the Eastern conference table with 24.5 PPG/5.2 RPG/4.1 APG averages. The true test will be to see if he can keep this up over a full 82 game slate. My guess is Oladipo is just getting started.
No. 12: DeMar DeRozan Can Shoot And That’s Scary
SEASON 2017-18 seemed destined to be the 193rd straight year that the Raptors won 45-50 games and then lost in the second round or conference finals after they opted to keep the band together last offseason. Early on in the piece this narrative was once again playing out, then a weird thing happened. DeRozan started taking and making 3’s. The career 29% shooter from range has made 27-51 treys in his last 10 games, scoring at an absurd rate throughout (just over 29 points). It’s no coincidence that the Raptors are winning a lot as a result, and DeRozan has been assisted by a stellar supporting cast. So much so that Toronto fans are daring to dream they will break through an make a maiden NBA Finals trip come June.
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