Small Ball Champions?

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What a season it has been so far.

Giannis and the Bucks are leading the way in the eastern conference ($3.3) hoping to capitalize on his MVP season with Antetokounmpo playing at a career best scoring 30 points per game whilst diming 5.8 assists and catching 13.8 rebounds, up from his previous years average of 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds, all whilst playing 2 fewer minutes then the previous season.

However, whilst everyone is busy pumping up the Bucks, I think there’s a scarier proposition in the Houston Rockets ($11), whose ultra small-ball lineup is turning the league upside down.

 Houston have won 7 from their last 9 games since switching to small-ball, with one of those losses coming to a heavily contested Bogdanovic buzzer beater. 5 of those wins have been against playoff teams in the Lakers (3.8), Utah (19), Grizzlies (101) and Celtics (21) and it is easy to see why when Westbrook is playing the best basketball of his career since the inception of Houston Small Ball.

His FG% at the rim was already solid at 60.7%, ranking him in the top 5 starting guards in the league, however has jumped to 67.4%. Not having a traditional center frees up the paint for Russ, allowing him to average 33 points (55%), 7.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists in the month of February, with 20.5 of those points coming in the paint which ranks as the highest in the NBA. Couple that in with the fact that you arguably have the best scorer in the history of the NBA who can drop 50 in any given game, it makes them a serious threat to both the Lakers and the Clippers.

The array of shooters in Tucker (37.8% from 3), Mclemore (39.5% from 3), along with their recent acquisition of  Covington, House, Gordon creates a range of scoring opportunities for the Beard who is leading the league in scoring (34.5 PPG), as teams are now forced to play one-on-one, or take their chances at leaving consistent shooters wide open.

With just over a month to go until playoffs, it is now time to start genuinely considering Mike D’Antoni’s backcourt as title contenders, and at $11 presents real value for punters who want to take us on.