With the NBA season approaching its halfway point, the season hasn’t gone as some may have predicted. Some teams have been shocking as to where they have placed, while others have not lived up to the hype created by NBA fans and analysts. One surprise right now is how the Eastern Conference has the best team in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks. There are also other exciting teams that we have been waiting to see shake something up in the NBA. Meanwhile, in the West, it’s still a little unclear as to who will emerge as the best team in the so-called “stronger conference.” So let’s dive in on what has been going on the NBA.
In the East, the top five teams have been the Bucks, Heat, Celtics, Raptors, and 76ers. The Bucks have been on fire this season with their superstar (and reigning MVP) Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is in pursuit of his second straight MVP crown. The Bucks have not had to heavily rely on Antetokounmpo, as other players on the team have been having career-best seasons.
In second place we have the surprising Miami Heat, who have been on a tear this year. A big reason for their success is the big free-agent signing that they made this summer with Jimmy Butler. Most people predicted that the Heat would be a middle of the pack team, but surprisingly they have been crushing teams like the Rockets, 76ers, and the Bucks, among others. Another big factor is the fact that their rookies have adjusted to the NBA very well. Their first-year player, Tyler Herro, has been putting up respectable numbers, as well as newcomer Kendrick Nunn, who has been almost perfect for them. Watch out for the Heat to make a statement this spring in the playoffs.
Coming in at third are the Celtics, who have been all over the place this year. They have plenty of wins against very good teams, but whenever it seemed like they were getting hot, they suddenly saw one of their players get hurt. But all hope isn’t lost because, after the All-Star Break, the Celtics have the second-easiest schedule in the NBA.
Coming in at fourth are last year’s NBA Champions, the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have been surprisingly doing very well after losing their best player last year, Kawhi Leonard, who led the Raptors to their first championship. In his absence, third-year player Pascal Siakam has been on fire recently, averaging 25 points and 6 rebounds per game.
Coming in at fifth place are the Philadelphia 76ers, who have been up and down throughout the season. Right now they are missing one of their best players, Joel Embiid, who has a dislocated finger. The 76ers have been a team that seems like they can’t win more than two games at a time, or at least can’t hold a lead in a game. But hope isn’t all lost for the City of Brotherly Love since they still have All-Stars Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. The East is very wild so far this year, and one of these teams has the potential to win it all.
In the West, the teams have been on fire, and as a result, there exists a constant fight to be number one. Sitting in first place are the Los Angeles Lakers, who have seen star players LeBron James and Anthony Davis battle injuries. But all hope isn’t lost for them because they still have players such as Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso that can come in and step it up.
In second place comes the Denver Nuggets, who have been doing what they did last year with a strong offense and an even stronger defense. Right now, their leading scorer Nikola Jokic, who is a top-10 candidate for MVP this year; Jokic has been on fire, averaging 20 points and just under 10 rebounds a game.
Coming in at third is the other L.A. team, the Clippers. The Clippers came into the season having high hopes after signing the league’s 2019 Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, and trading for superstar Paul George. Right now the Clippers have been doing mediocre, but their whole team’s purpose was to be a “postseason ready team,” according to owner Steve Ballmer. So I guess we won’t see how well this team truly plays until playoff time.
Coming in at fourth place is the Houston Rockets, who have a one-man team in James Harden. Harden has been averaging 38 points a game and 7 assists. The one thing that would get them going would be if they could find a way for Russell Westbrook to become more involved. Harden and Westbrook being able to jell together would be huge for the Rockets.
Coming in at fifth is the Utah Jazz. Utah has been a solid team by winning games, but they still need that one big star to push them over that hump.
Those are the top five teams this season so far, but there has been one shocker this year. The Golden State Warriors have been the worst team in the entire league since their three main star players are all out with injuries. They have not been the team that they once were. This has been a quick recap of all the top five teams in the league from the East to the West.