Around the NBA: Feb. 14
Host Zech Lambert and analysts Logan Bourandas, Ben Serfass and Gabe Angieri take a look around the NBA.
All-Star weekend is fast approaching, and many players around the NBA are trying to finish strong before the second half of the season. Much of the buzz lately has been about the All-Star game snubs. Wizards guard Bradley Beal is the leader of this group so far.
Besides All-Star weekend, the center of attention was star rookie Zion Williamson. He has emerged as the New Orleans Pelicans go-to option. As Williamson’s minute restriction starts to lessen, he will only look better.
In just 28 minutes per game, Williamson is averaging an insane 21 points and seven rebounds per contest. If his averages are stretched over 38 minutes, then he had the potential to be an All-Star as a rookie. He has a chance to be a hero and lead the young Pelicans to the playoffs in a fight for the eighth spot in the West.
The bottom of the Western Conference is the most competitive it's been in years. The Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Pelicans are all within five games of the Memphis Grizzlies, who hold the eighth spot. The young leaders in the West bring a newfound excitement to the teams fighting for a playoff spot.
The Grizzlies’ star rookie point guard Ja Morant is a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. He has changed the perception of many that rookie point guards will always struggle in their first few years. His Grizzlies team is now 28-26, which is impressive for a team projected to finish last in the West before the season.
At the top of the West, the Rockets have generated all the buzz with their new super small-ball approach. They are currently playing a lineup with 6-foot-5-inch P.J. Tucker at the center position. The typical basketball fan may believe this is crazy because every other team will have a center at least seven inches taller, but they are 3-2 during this experiment.
Houston has beaten the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics with this unique formula. One of the two losses was against the streaking Jazz, which needed a Bojan Bogdanović miracle heave, in between two defenders, at the buzzer, to win. So far, it appears to be a success, but time will tell.
The Eastern Conference standings have remained relatively stagnant compared to the West, but the top five teams have shifted continuously throughout the season. The Toronto Raptors created havoc atop the standings with a 15 game win streak, which just ended at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night. Toronto now sits in second place, but not far behind are the Celtics and upstart Heat.
The Milwaukee Bucks have been atop the East all season and aren’t looking back, with a record of 46-8. Milwaukee has been the most consistent team in the league statistically, but a loss Wednesday night to the Pacers gives the Bucks their first loss of the season without star Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup.
If the standings stay this tight, then the NBA playoffs will only be better.
Ben Geller is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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