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  NBA Midseason Review: Five Things We’ve Learned So Far

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The 2015-16 NBA season will mostly be remembered for two key achievements. Firstly, the Golden State Warriors finished the regular campaign with 73 victories; eclipsing the Chicago Bull’s long-standing record of 72 wins in a single year.

However, their joy was short lived as Steve Kerr’s men threw away a 3-1 advantage in the NBA Finals as the Cleveland Cavaliers secured a maiden championship. This season; the general pattern of results have been similar but America’s main basketball league is still as exhilarating and entertaining as ever.

With a number of savage trade deals, shock defeats and incredible individual moments, early signs suggest that this could be the greatest season in NBA history. Here are five things that we’ve learned throughout the first few months of the campaign.

Cleveland are the champs but Golden State are the team to beat

The Cavaliers won the title last year but Steve Kerr’s men are focused on toppling Cleveland in the coming months. On paper, the Warriors are the punter’s choice and the most complete side in the league by some distance and the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have been central to their success in recent years.

And when you throw free agency signing Kevin Durant into the mix, Golden State are well placed to claim a fifth NBA Championship at the end of the season. At the end of the day, their talent should prove decisive in the coming months.

It’s a Russell Westbrook vs James Harden fight for the MVP award

Despite Golden State’s dominance, the two leading candidates for the regular season award ply their trade elsewhere – perhaps a sign that the Warriors are now focused on team goals rather than individual glory. Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook leads the NBA in points scored this season and he will fancy his chances of winning a maiden MVP award.

However, the two-time All Star MVP faces stiff competition from Houston Rockets point guard James Harden. The 27-year-old has put up career-high numbers this season; averaging 28.6 points per game on offense. Harden would certainly be a worthy winner.

Tim Duncan-less Spurs are still hot under Gregg Popovich

When San Antonio legend Tim Duncan hung up his sneakers at the end of last season, many believed that the Spurs would go through a difficult patch. They needn’t have worried. With Gregg Popovich at the helm and the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Dejounte Murray stepping up to the plate in Duncan’s absence, San Antonio could challenge in the playoffs.

The Spurs are the NBA’s in-form team; winning eight of their last 10 games. Leonard has been one of the elite stars in the league this year and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the 15th overall pick push Westbrook and Harden close in the MVP voting.

Kevin Durant move: the most controversial in NBA history?

Durant, a regular season MVP winner back in 2014, sent shockwaves across the NBA during the offseason when he announced that he would be leaving the Thunder for Golden State. Many compared his decision to that of LeBron James when he left Cleveland for the Miami Heat in 2010 – and he has received plenty of criticism throughout the year.

We’re now midway through the campaign and it looks like Durant made the right call. The Warriors are looking very strong and the 28-year-old has been central to their success but only an NBA title will suffice for the 2nd overall pick in the 2007 draft.

The 76ers have an elite star in center Joel Embiid

Embiid is a shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year award this year and with good reason; he has been one of the best centers in the league this season. The Cameroonian big man has led Philadelphia to 10 victories in their last 13 appearances and the NBA have been criticised for snubbing him ahead of the All-Star weekend.

Averaging 22.4 points per game, Embiid offers a lot more than your regular center. His defensive statistics are mind-blowing; 8.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.7 blocks per game stand him tall (literally) above his peers. His upside in the future holds no boundaries.

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