Did you guys check out our look at how the Eastern Conference is shaping up? If not, we’ll wait.
Now, here’s how things are going on the left side of the map. Make sure you’re checking out Jay’s Knicks-related podcast.
Oklahoma City – This team is on fire right now. The loss of Maynor for the season doesn’t seem to have affected them at all. The Westbrook/Durant feud seems to have been nothing but hot air. The team that everyone expected to make the conference finals before the season started is on pace to do just that.
Portland Trailblazers – After Roy retired and Oden went out for the entire season (again) everyone slept on these guys. The thing is everyone forgot they stole Gerald Wallace from Charlotte last season. This team is athletic, fast and young. Felton has fit in nicely. They may not remain a top 2 or 3 seed all season but this is definitely a team no one wants to see in the postseason.
Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe is ignoring the fact that this team is much worse than last year and Metta World Piece has only had 1 good game all season. Playing with a chip on his shoulder after ESPN named him the 7th best player in the league, he’s been destroying teams, most recently with a 48 point outburst against the Suns. Will be interesting to see how they handle Bynum’s annual injury. You know it’s coming Laker fans.
San Antonio Spurs – These guys just won’t go away. They’ve been called old and past their prime for years and yet still lead their division. It helps when your scouts consistently find a player no one has ever heard of that ends up being very good. Gary Neal was that player last year; James Anderson is that player this year.
Utah Jazz – So far they’ve been better than expected, but their point differential suggests they will come back down to earth eventually. Imagine how good they’d be if they didn’t start Raja Bell. Does anyone else know why Gordon Hayward isn’t starting? One of the most confusing coaching decisions in the league right now.
Denver Nuggets – Who says you need a star to win in this league? The players on this team all complement each other really well, you know, like the opposite of the Knicks. This team is inconsistent, but can still beat anyone on a given night, even with half their team stuck in China (JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler).
LA Clippers – Caron Butler and Blake Griffin have been playing well and Chris Paul has looked decent. DeAndre Jordan is still averaging 7 and 7, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone as that’s pretty much what his career numbers have been. I still feel they gave up too much for Paul. They have a pretty thin bench. Imagine how dangerous this team would be if they were able to keep Eric Gordon?
Dallas Mavericks – What happened to Lamar Odom? He’s been beyond terrible. You have to believe that he didn’t lose all his talent over the summer. If he gets his mojo back and Boubois can be more consistent this team will be fine. Title worthy? Now that’s a different question. I get the impression their expectations are a little lower this season, but the plan is to get Howard in the offseason and make another serious run next season.
Phoenix Suns – I said it last year and I REALLY mean it this year. Poor Steve Nash. They refuse to go into rebuilding mode and have made way too many poor decisions to have a chance of being anything but 1st round fodder for one of the top 4 seeds. And that’s best case scenario at this point. Gortat has been decent which is nice, especially since Sideshow Bob, I mean Robin Lopez has been nonexistent. The only positive to this situation is that the Suns magical medical staff that is clearly not doing anything sketchy has prolonged the careers of Grant Hill and Steve Nash.
Memphis Grizzlies – Losing Darrel Arthur was big. So was losing their best player in Zach Randolph. But if these guys can stay on a playoff pace until Zach gets back they’ll once again be that very dangerous first round team that everyone is going to want to avoid. When healthy these guys can beat anyone.
Houston Rockets – I’m surprised, the team that had no backup plan for Yao getting injured seems to be lost now that Yao is gone for good. Their center last year was a 6’9″ Chuck Hayes and even he is gone. They have some nice pieces but need that one star to tie it all together. That’s if David Stern didn’t completely ruin their chemistry by axing the trade that would have sent Pau Gasol to Houston.
New Orleans Hornets – They got back a decent haul for Chris Paul. Once Eric Gordon comes back that is. I still feel the original trade would have brought have much more talent, but rumor is Stern wanted them to be worse so they get a better draft pick this year and can rebuild faster. Not sure if that plan is going to work. The Hornets are going to be bad, but have just enough good players to get them a mediocre draft pick.
Golden State Warriors – First Ellis was injured and now Curry, Biedrins and Brown are injured. Brown has a season ending injury and Curry’s injury seems to be really bad as well. They are also left without a center which resulted in Dwight Howard shattering the record for most free throw attempts in a game with 39. The old record was Wilt who took 32 the day he scored 100 points. This team was paper thin before the injuries and are downright see-through now.
Sacramento Kings – They fired their coach and kept Cousins. We’ll see if that was the right decision soon enough. This team is the west coast Knicks. A ton of players that shoot as soon as they can and hate passing. Only this team has much less talent than the Knicks. Wasn’t it less than 10 years ago that they were a top 2 team in the west?
Minnesota Timberwolves – One of the most exciting teams in the league to watch. Ricky Rubio is the real deal. Kevin Love is one of the best power forwards in the league. They have a poor record but a bunch of really close losses already. If they can figure out how to close close games they will be knocking on the door of the playoffs. I don’t expect that to happen this season, but next season….. The figure looks bright in Minny.