NBA Spring season brings new changes, spotlighting old stars, teams out for revenge, and rookies out to create their own trails.
By Mark Molz
The second half of the NBA season is underway and with the MVP race up for grabs and the path to the finals wide open, here is what you need to know before the next half of games get started.
Lebron James: It is no surprise that Lebron is in the MVP conversation for yet another year. And let's be honest with ourselves, Lebron could win it every year and probably should have more times than his already respectable four MVP Trophies.
At the age of 36 Lebron has continued to silence the ones who doubt him and excel in a league filled with 20 year old superstars. Boasting an impressive statline of 25.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 7.8 APG, all in his 18th season is nothing short of spectacular. Lebron currently has the defending champs seeded third in a loaded Western Conference, and is only three-and-a-half games behind the first place Utah Jazz.
Joel Embiid: Meanwhile, on the other side of the league, Joel Embiid is leading his 76ers to win after win. Currently first in the Eastern Conference, Embiid has the Sixers ahead of two very impressive teams in the Bucks and Nets. Averaging an impressive 30.2 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 1.2 STL, and 1.4 BLK, Embiid has taken his game to a whole nother level this year.
As much as NBA fans want Lebron to win another MVP, it looks as though Joel Embid is well on his way to winning his first.
NBA Finals Matchup
This is an interesting one to think about as a handful of teams are currently playing at a championship level, but do we really think Lebron is going to let anyone from the West have a chance at winning it this year?
Los Angeles Lakers: It would be too easy to pick Lebron and the Lakers to make it to the finals and beat the lucky team that decides to give it their best shot out of the East. While the Lakers are currently third in the West, it is hard to imagine an NBA Finals without Lebron James in it, especially when he is playing at an MVP level. But, just for fun let's have a look at a few other teams from the West that just might have a shot at getting past Lebron’s Lakers.
Utah Jazz: Currently first in the West coming out of the All Star break, the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert led Jazz squad are currently running through teams with ease. The Jazz, at the moment, currently look like Final’s contenders without a doubt. They even beat the defending champion Lakers by a solid 25 points leaving no doubt they are the top team in the West at the moment. But, we usually know how that narrative goes when you have Lebron in your conference, so I won’t get into that too much.
Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers are the other team who have the best chance at giving the Lakers a run for their money. Favored by a handful of analysts to beat the Lakers last year before blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the bubble, the Clippers will be looking to redeem themselves in this year's playoffs. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George leading the team, they currently hold the fourth seed in the West and will be looking to make a push once the All Star break comes to an end.
Brooklyn Nets: With James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Iriving leading your team, it is hard not to pick the Brooklyn Nets as favorites coming out of the East. With all three of them currently averaging over 25 Points Per Game, their offense has had the highest offensive rating in NBA history to start the season. But, on the other side of the ball their defense has lacked the ability to actually stop the other team, giving them the worst defensive rating in NBA history to start the season. Will the Nets offense be enough to get them to the mountain top or will their defense let them down?
Philadelphia 76ers and Milawaukke Bucks: These are the only other two teams that have a chance of getting past the Nets and making it out the East. And while former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and current MVP frontrunner Joel Embid are trying to make a strong case to be Eastern Conference favorites, I just don’t see them being able to take their team past one of the best scoring trio's in Brooklyn.
Rookie of the Year
Lamelo Ball: Ball is currently the overwhelming favorite to win this year's Rookie of the Year and there is nothing that is going to slow him down. The 19 year old is currently averaging 15.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 6.3 APG. He has taken on the NBA by storm with his dazzling passes and ability to score from anywhere on the court. He is surpassing expectations and is well on his way to becoming a house old name.