Western Courier

Making sense of the NBA’s nonsense

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

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Through 22 games, the NBA is out of control. Up is down, right is left and nothing makes sense anymore. The wild roller coaster of the NBA is full of twists and turns so far, so let’s take a minute to map it all out.

First of all the Clippers are in the lead of the Western Conference. That’s right. Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, Tobias Harris and Montrezl Harrell are in the lead. Surprisingly this group of players are the most efficient team in the NBA right now. Leading the league in true shooting percentage and sixth in offensive efficiency is Tobias Harris.

Harris is hot right now. Leading the league in effective field goal percentage, he averages over 26 points per game and is using the pick and roll to perfection. Head coach Doc Rivers has somehow found out how to beat the best teams. Back to back overtime wins against the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors, this team went from debating how to make the playoffs to debating which playoff seed the can get, the first second or third.

Speaking of Golden State, what is going on? Before the season this team was compared to Team Monstars from “Space Jam.” A team that is now considered unfair to play in the NBA 2k game against your friends. A team so good, that it might just ruin the NBA, and yet here they are with nine losses sitting in third place. The team has shown that the locker room is fragile with such hot-headed egos like Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. They have shown vulnerability while Steph Curry was out with injury. They have proven to the world that this team is beatable.

Will they be beatable come playoff time? Nobody knows the answer to that one. Whether or not Demarcus Cousins will electrify and revamp the Warriors to titan like power? While this team struggles every other team in the West will be eager to go on a winning streak to stack wins while they can.

Another struggling team that before the season was expected to make the playoffs is the San Antonio Spurs. Greg Popovich said it bluntly after losing their second straight game by over 30 points, “I have to do a better job.” Sitting at 10-12 and second to last in the standings the Spurs are losing control on their season. The defense isn’t there, the offense has too many short comings. This team will need to find some motivation to turn it around, and fast if they want to make the playoffs.

The last struggling team I will evaluate is the Boston Celtics. Before the season there were three teams people debated coming out of the East the Toronto Raptors, the Philadelphia 76ers and of course Boston. While they both sit at the top of the leader board Boston sits at No. 6 only three games above .500.

Gordon Hayward even said he belongs on the bench right now due to his performances. Players aren’t living up to their expectations and the defense has suffered. Surprisingly its due to the starting lineup. Jaylen Brown hinted earlier in the season that all the wings, him, Hayward and Jason Tatum all play alike. This is causing chemistry issues and giving Brad Stevens headaches.

Back to the positives. Another surprising team has been the Denver Nuggets. After failing to make the playoffs in five straight years being shut down by the Timberwolves in overtime on the last game of the season this team sits second in the West and eager to prove they can ball with the best.

The youngest team in the NBA with an average age of 24.72 are playing exceptionally well. How? Let’s start with the obvious, Nikola Jokic. The European big is one of the best passers in the league with a shooting touch and a loud personality he has what it takes to prove his all-NBA talent. Meanwhile, Jamaal Murray and Gary Harris are both athletic guards who can shoot the ball well, especially off the dribble. Both players have come up clutch before and will be looked at near the end of games more often. Finally, the only veteran in their starting lineup Paul Millsap. After a win against the Trailblazers the locker room all voiced their love for Millsaps leadership.

With around three minutes left in the game Millsap huddled his team and said, “We say we want to be a playoff team, it’s time to show everybody.” After that Murray hit two free-throws, Jokic made a great pass to Harris who buried a corner three. The won 113-112 and once again showed that they can win games. Most surprisingly has been their bench play.

As the Nuggets are without starter Will Barton, Isiah Thomas and rookie Michael Porter Jr. this team hasn’t gotten to it’s full potential yet. They still have more tricks up their sleeves, but the bench has played well in their absence. The Nuggets locker room believes Mason Plumlee is “the most underrated player in the NBA” and Monte Morris has been putting on a show.

Leading the league in assist to turnover ratio 7.50:1 has earned the second-year player a permanent spot in the Nuggets rotation. Trey Lyles has multiple games scoring over 20 points as well as Juan Hernangomez. This team is playing with a huge chip on their shoulder missing the playoffs by one game last year, and each loss is a reminder of that.

As the season continues to blossom into a wonderful thorny rose full of pain, beauty and confusion, each team will desperately try to find their groove and hold on to kryptonite for their enemies. Who will be holding the trophy at the end of the year? Who will avoid injury and find greatness? What underdog will make a name for himself this year? Only time will tell and if the rest of the NBA season follows the path of the first 20 games, expect some surprises.

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Making sense of the NBA’s nonsense