The wheels on the bus go round and round
We have passed the midway point of the number of games played over the course of the NBA season, but we have yet to see the events of the 2016 NBA All Star Game , which will be played at the Air Canada Centre home to the Toronto Raptors. Both conferences this season have seen their ups and downs as well as with the intra-conference match-ups between the East and the West. In the Western Conference the Golden State Warriors have led the way for much of the season , but as of late the Warriors have suffered a few slip-ups , as the San Antonio Spurs have made inroads into Golden State’s lead in the conference. Within the Eastern Conference , last season’s losing finalists the Cleveland Cavaliers are having problems of their own over the last six games. Now while many are claiming injuries have plagued the Cavaliers this season, I believe the real issues for Cleveland has been the fact players have yet to gel as a team.
In the lead-up to the All Star Game , it will be interesting to see how the teams will fare in comparison to last season at the same point of the NBA schedule. For the most part it should not come as a surprise to see how good the Golden State Warriors continue to be. They have hardly skipped a beat since winning their title of last season. While Steve Kerr has been absent due to health issue, his assistant Luke Walton has taken over the reins as the team’s head coach. Walton has shown the uncanny acumen not often seen from a coach with such limited experience in his role , but when you take into account his experience as a former player and the success achieved with the Los Angeles Lakers , it easy to understand why he has been able lead this team with such authority in his role as the head coach.
The Warriors’ front office , headed by co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have seen the value of the franchise appreciate since their purchase of the Golden State Warriors, along with the continued press coverage given to the team and their stars such as Steph Curry , Klay Thompson , Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala . Given the Warriors’ impressive start to the season , before their recent setbacks , there was a thought the team was capable of surpassing the all-time regular season wins’ total of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10). They remain on par to exceed sixty-five wins along with the possibility of the Warriors making a successful defense of their NBA title. I certainly believe Golden State is capable enough of winning the championship , but their path to the title could be derailed by the San Antonio Spurs , who over their last fifteen games have been among the best teams in the league. San Antonio currently has the second best record in the NBA and their making inroads into the wins’ total of the Golden State Warriors.
As the reigning NBA League MVP Steph Curry is having an exceptional season with some terrific performances for the Golden State Warriors. He is the consensus leader to win the NBA League MVP Award for a second successive season following in the footsteps of some his most recent peers LeBron James and Steve Nash who have won back to back League MVP Awards. If there is more than one possible challenger to Curry’s chance to win the award , it could well be from the likes of Kawhi Leonard , Kevin Durant , Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins and LeBron James. Golden State will next take to the court when they face the Chicago Bulls led by Jimmy Butler , who appears to have assumed the mantle as the leader of this team. Butler’s teammate Derrick Rose remains an integral cog to the franchise , but with his injury woes in recent years , it is hard to try and now justify the financial investment in the point guard .
I am not so sure what to now make of this idiocy with some analysts and New York Knicks’ fans regaling the world with the fact the franchise is now worth $3 billion , while also being the most profitable team in the NBA . Personally, I believe the fans of the Knicks should be more concerned they are no better than a .500 team of players, where there is very little depth to the lineup overall . Perhaps the one saving grace of the season happens to be Carmelo Anthony leads the team in scoring , while rookie , Kristaps Porzingis is having a very good season among all rookies to have played on average twenty minutes or more per game. Derek Fisher is still learning on the job , while being provided with very little aid from his coaching staff . There won’t be any calls as of yet , for Phil Jackson to make a welcome return court-side, but who can what is likely to happen should the Knicks continue to falter ?
Derek Fisher will be preparing the New York Knicks for their next encounter when they tip-off against the Los Angeles Clippers at home in Madison Square Garden , New York City, New York on 22nd January .
I think it is a pretty safe bet to suggest the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers will most certainly lose their fortieth games by no later 1st February , based on their propensity for losing over the last eighteen days ! Both of these teams are in complete disarray with neither Jim Buss as owner of the Los Angeles Lakers or Sam Hinkie of the 76ers having a clue how the resurrect the fortunes of their respective franchises. Mitch Kupchak is like a blind man without the aid of a walking stick and guide dog when it comes assessing talent for the Lakers’ roster. Philadelphia might be even a worse situation given the fact former general manager Sam Hinkie was relieved of his duties and Jerry Colangelo was brought in to become Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise. I believe the Los Angeles Lakers won’t be making any moves concerning the roster and will simply play out the rest of the season, hoping to make some sense of it all. Kobe Bryant will end his illustrious career with another losing season added to his resume’ .
Jerry Colangelo will have to completely reassess the Sixers’ organization from top to bottom , starting with the front office , moving down to the coaching staff and the entire playing roster. Certainly for Brett Brown as the head coach , his days have to be numbered and the same has to said of coaching assistants. Among the players it is hard to say where on should start and end. The drafting of players for this franchise has been a monumental bust with a number of the players taken in 2012 , 2013 , 2014 and 2015 are no longer with the Sixers. This can be best summed up by looking at the attendance levels for the Sixers and the team’s record over the past three years. Philadelphia has now become a bad franchise getting worse and unlikely to turn things around anytime soon. In their last game the Philadelphia 76ers were able to overcome the Orlando Magic defeating their conference counterparts 96-87. The Los Angeles Lakers were not so lucky, falling to the Sacramento Kings 112-93 .
Anthony Davis remains a prodigious talent and that can be seen from his impact with the New Orleans Pelicans and on the NBA. The power- forward has to be viewed as the best player in the league at the position. As the number one overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Not due to become a free agent until 2021 , he is still in his rookie deal , but will undoubtedly be looking maximize his worth as league one of the league’s premier power forwards .
Over their last eleven games the Pelicans have struggled to stay abreast of their Western Conference counterparts as well as the rest of the NBA . In their last contest the New Orleans Pelicans had a fifteen-point win over the Minnesota Timberwolves , defeating their opponent 114-99 and will prepare for the next game when they face the Detroit Pistons at home , playing at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans , Louisiana on Thursday, 21st January , 2016. The Pelicans are 3 ½ games out of a playoff berth within the Western Conference based on the current standings as of 20th January. The eighth and final berth is currently held by the Sacramento Kings (18-23).
To my mind the team which has proven to be the biggest disappointment this season , has to be the Houston Rockets ! Somehow they have found a way to be lackluster , complacent and playing with no passion , while head coach JB Bickerstaff tries to make sense of his best lineup from among his twelve man roster. James Harden remains the Rockets’ best player even if he doesn’t provide a great deal of defensive presence for Houston. As a defensive unit overall the Rockets are giving up 105.7 points per game the fourth highest in the NBA , with only the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers allowing more points per game .
Harden and his teammate Dwight Howard were seen as the one-two punch likely to bring some resolve for the Houston Rockets, but since Howard’s acquisition by the franchise the Rockets have failed to deliver in numerous ways. Dwight Howard has proven to be an enigma and a conundrum all rolled into one. He is no longer the player who was once dominant defensively , having won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award on more than one occasion. The rumors continue to percolate that the Rockets might well seek to trade the center at the trade deadline, if the team isn’t in contention for a playoff berth . Where the Houston Rockets now go from here will be incumbent upon the players themselves and coaching acumen shown by the coaching staff.
The Denver Nuggets have not been a force to be reckoned with in the George Karl was head coach of the franchise and while Carmelo Anthony was the talk of the town as a player with the Nuggets. The last postseason appearance for Denver was several years ago and the makeup of the roster at the time was considerably different than it is today . The Nuggets fell to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference postseason from 2012 . This season under the coaching acumen of Michael Malone the Denver Nuggets are struggling to compete in the Western Conference while not yet making their presence felt within the Northwest Division .
In their last game played , the Nuggets performed poorly ,suffering loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder , led by Kevin Durant who was the leading scorer in the contest. I believe this to be an inexperienced Nuggets’ team still finding their way through the season and their unlikely to be considered a contender for their division or a playoff berth this year. Denver will play host to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday evening, where Danilo Gallinari will be looking to put in a another solid performance for the Nuggets.
I will continue to say this until I am blue in the face and taking my last breath , the best and most successful NBA franchise over the last two decades is and will be the San Antonio Spurs ! Fans of the league who remain oblivious to this fact, have spent too much time drinking the Kool Aid , while being enraptured with the play of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and others. During the time-frame in question , the Spurs have quietly ran off eighteen straight seasons of NBA Playoff appearances and won five NBA titles , a feat unmatched by any other franchise in NBA history , much less North American professionals sports’ franchise history. Yet, because the San Antonio Spurs are not in a top-five market among market advertisers or within the cultivated texture of the Madison Avenue executives and NBA fans in general , the Spurs are often ignored and mildly admired .
The Golden State Warriors may well have bolted out of the starting gate with an impressive start to their season reeling off victories at an amazing rate , but over the past the twelve games Golden State have played second fiddle to the San Antonio Spurs in more ways than one. Steph Curry might even have the League MVP Award all sewn up , given his performances and leadership shown with the Warriors , but if there is a serious contender to the race, then Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs would fit the bill , as he has been the primary reason San Antonio remains within a hair’s breath of Golden State’s record at this point of the season. A conference finals’ clash seems assured, if these two teams remain consistent , albeit , the Oklahoma City Thunder are close by (third best team in the West) watching things unfold.
Kawhi Leonard’s statistics might not match up favorably to Steph Curry’s , but there are intangibles being overlooked as to what he has brought to the Spurs since he was acquired in a trade with the Indiana Pacers . A choice I now believe Pacers’ executive Larry Bird must deeply regret ,having selected Leonard as a first round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft . by the franchise.
San Antonio over their next few games will be hoping to keep the momentum going and they have a fairly easy test in their next game when they face the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center , Los Angeles , California should prove fruitful. Yet , it will be San Antonio’s scheduled contest at Oracle Arena on Monday night which will provide them a real test , when their opponent will be the Golden State Warriors. This game should be something of a barn-burner between two highly proficient teams skilled at just about every position on the floor.
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