Midseason Review: Five Things We’ve Learned So Far
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
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