NBA Midseason Update

NBA+Midseason+Update

Jacob Brooks, Sports Editor

The 2020 season thus far has been a joy to watch for the majority of NBA fanatics. The dynasty of the Warriors has been held off for the time being. An influx of new teams find themselves primed and ready to contend, and there are athletes like Tacko Fall, Alex Caruso, and Zion Williamson that exist.Image result for zion

The playoff picture, as it currently stands, has Milwaukee representing the East and the Lakers of Los Angeles leading the way out West. Both of their superstars, the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lakers’ LeBron James, were selected as the two captains for this years All-Star game. Both teams are also favorites to meet in June for the NBA Finals. 

With the aforementioned Warriors a long way from contention, a rematch of last seasons Finals is all but out the window. However, the defending champion Toronto Raptors will still most likely be right in the thick of things even with their MVP from that title team now repping the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard’s void left an opportunity for Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry to step into a lead role. So far, they have excelled and have the Raptors sitting at the 3rd seed in the East. 

Kawhi Leonard is still out there though. However, his Clippers have for the most part coasted through the first half of the season. Kawhi’s been given the nickname “Load Management” as the coaching staff continues to rest him in certain games, and the bigger story is that there are rumors floating around about players within the organization. These mostly pertain to them being concerned about coaches’ special treatment of their stars Kawhi and Paul George, and the other players in that locker room upset over being treated unfairly. 

Other teams to look out for when the playoffs roll around will be the Sixers, Heat, Celtics, and Pacers in the East, and the Jazz, Nuggets, Mavericks, and Rockets in the West. 

The Sixers have more talent than most teams in the East, but have been struggling at times. Boston lost some key pieces this offseason including Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, but the development of their young players and reinforcements they found in free agency will keep them in the mix. 

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The Heat are one of the more interesting stories of this NBA season. Jimmy Butler came down from Philly to restore the culture of the franchise, and Miami also did a fantastic job in bringing in a slew of contributors from all over. There are concerns over how long they can really last come late April, but the talent is there with their sustainability in question.

Every one of these teams in the East other than the Bucks have basically the same record… even the Pacers. Indiana is turning heads and holding their ground even without their best player Victor Oladipo. Once he makes his return later this season, they might just be the favorites to take down Giannis and the Bucks provided no one else can.

In the West, the Denver Nuggets who were a game away from the making the Conference Finals last year currently are the fourth seed. They underwent almost no change from their roster from last year except for the emergence of Michael Porter Jr.. It is pretty likely they’ll be on everyone’s radar when the postseason rolls around. 

The Jazz and Mavericks have impressed so far this year, and both have young stars who aren’t really household names. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert headline the Jazz and will be key players if Utah wants to advance far in the playoffs. For the Mavs, 2019 rookie of the year Luka Doncic is a 2020 MVP candidate. With one of those on your squad, anything is possible. Image result for luka doncic

Last, but not least, there’s the Rockets. Whom the media always seems to fall in love with. This year even moreso now that they brought over Russell Westbrook to pair with James Harden. Both are great players no doubt, but they’ve been around a while, and its worth mentioning that neither have a ring, and with LeBron, Kawhi, and Giannis in their path, to get one this year is going to be tougher than ever.