NBA Top-10: January 26
Nearly at the All-Star break, this NBA season has flown by. There is so much yet to be decided, however, especially as the trade deadline approaches.
Let’s check in on the top ten teams in basketball.
1. Phoenix Suns
Winners in seven straight, the Suns are pulling away as the top seed in the west.
Chris Paul is averaging a double-double for the seventh time in his Hall of Fame career, and Phoenix is the only team in the league with a single digit in the loss column. With possibly the best-fitting and deepest roster in the league, they look fully prepared for another deep playoff run.
2. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have missed Draymond Green a bit lately, who has been out with a calf injury for most of January and may be out for a while.
However, they are still winning games one way or another, despite Steph Curry’s struggles – he is down to a career-low 37.3% from three. As Klay Thompson continues to find his shot after returning from injury, they will only get more dangerous.
3. Memphis Grizzlies
If you’ve looking for a “biggest surprise” of this NBA season, the Grizzlies are your answer. Many could have predicted a small step forward for a young team, but Memphis didn’t just take a small step; they’ve become a top-tier team.
It is all behind Ja Morant, the third-year point guard who just continues to take his game to new heights and will likely start in the All-Star Game.
4. Miami Heat
Miami currently leads a crowded Eastern Conference. That could change quickly (the top six seeds are separated by just two games) but the Heat are sure to finish somewhere near the top.
They possibly have the toughest defense in the league, allowing the fourth-least opponent's PPG. It These next few weeks will be make-or-break in the east, so look for Miami to stay hot.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
What more can Giannis Antetokounmpo do for an encore?
The 2x MVP and NBA Champion is finding ways to get better, currently putting up a career-high six assists per night, leading Milwaukee to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks record doesn’t seem quite as dominant for a team coming off a championship (30-19), but when everyone is healthy, they are among the title favorites.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers team name may as well be changed to “Joel Embiid.” He has carried the team on his back lately, dropping 40 pieces consistently and leading Philadelphia to a 7-3 record over their last ten games.
Embiid will likely have to continue his incredible play to keep Philadelphia at the top of the Eastern Conference, and that could lead to his first MVP award.
7. Utah Jazz
The Jazz have been sliding lately, with a 2-8 record over their last ten games. That is mostly due to Rudy Gobert missing time with an injury - opponents feel much more comfortable driving to the rim without his presence.
Utah will need him back soon to hold onto the fourth seed, but either way, they are a great team at full strength.
8. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have been hit hard with injuries. Lonzo Ball will miss six-to-eight weeks with a small meniscus tear, and Alex Caruso and Derrick Jones Jr. are both expected to be out for a few months.
Zach Lavine and DeMar DeRozan will have to step up even more with both scoring and playmaking duties. Don’t be surprised if the Bulls make some trades for depth at the deadline as well.
9. Brooklyn Nets
With no Kevin Durant for an extended period, the Nets could be in a bit of trouble. James Harden has had to carry the team when playing in Brooklyn, which was evident in their loss against the Lakers on Tuesday.
Luckily, seven of their next ten games are away, meaning Kyrie Irving will be playing. Either way though, the Nets depth outside of their Big Three has been exposed at times, and it could come back to haunt them. In the meantime, Harden and Irving will have to lead the team.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers
That “Biggest Surprise” award mentioned for Memphis could also be given to the Cavaliers, who have found a recipe for a successful future.
Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen have taken massive strides in their respective games (and deserve All-Star consideration), and Cleveland is well within distance of a top-three seed in the east.
Daniel Mader is a second-year student majoring in digital/print journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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