We are officially at the half-way point of the season following the All-Star break, and this is where things will start to heat up as the trade deadline approaches and teams look to build momentum for the playoffs, and although sides in the Lakers and the Nets dominate discussion, there are a few smokies who should not be taken likely.
The Western Conference is as tough as ever this season, with Zion’s Pelicans and Curry’s Warriors currently sitting outside the 8. The San Antonio Spurs have managed to bounce back after a 45% winning record last season, bumping that up to 56% and with rumors of a potential trade involving Vucevic floating around, a starting lineup of Murray, Walker, DeRozan, Johnson and Vucevic will be sure to cause trouble for many.
The Blazers are another interesting prospect, clearly improving upon last years record with a current 60% win rate, whilst missing McCollum and Nurkic for a majority of those games. Gary Trent Jr has stepped up in their absence, averaging 15 points and 40% shooting from 3, whilst Lillard is continuing his stellar form averaging 29 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. A conference finals appearance is definitely not out of the question if they can get on a roll once their returning stars get back into the swing of things.
Moving over to the Eastern Conference, the Knicks have managed to be over .500 after 35 games for just the third time in the last 20 years. This is beyond the expectations of many, and even just making the playoffs will be a huge over achievement. They currently have the second best defensive rating in the league just behind the Lakers. However, their offence is sub-par, placing them 23rd in offensive rating, although, if the rumours are true that they are targeting Oladipo, Lonzo Ball and Rozier, acquiring any of those players will boost their offensive rating and make them a real tough out for any team.
This sets us up for an exciting second-half of the season, and with so many storylines set to play out, it is a good time to be a fan of basketball.