As we inch closer and closer to the official halfway point of the NBA season, it would only make sense to profile some of the teams who have exceeded expectations thus far and others who have failed to impress. For the first time since I can remember, the east has looked like the more dominate conference, at least on paper. As of tonight, the 8th seeded Boston Celtics are currently two games over .500, while the 8th seeded team in the west, Utah Jazz are a remarkable FIVE games under the .500 mark.
There is still plenty of basketball to be played and one can anticipate the standings shaking up.
Here are a few over and underachievers thus far in the season.
When I take into consideration all the teams in the NBA who have either impressed or disappointed this season, the Celtics have been the most surprising to me. There is no real franchise player on this team, but they seem to grind out games and win most of them. Thomas has been the team’s best player, but we cannot forget about guys like Bradley and Crowder who are the defensive stoppers on this team, yet they have also done it on the defensive end as well. I was rather stunned when I learned that Boston is 7th in the league when it comes to points per game at 103, but looking at player stats I can see why. The Celtics have nine players who average over seven points per game, which means that both the starters and bench players get it done-there is very little drop off. Defence is Boston’s bread and butter. The Celtics rank 2nd in both opponents field goal percentage and three point percentage, which makes a lot of sense when you consider the versatility and athleticism the team possesses. If Boston keeps this up, there is no reason why they should miss out on the playoffs. The Celtics currently possess EIGHT draft picks in the 2016 draft and do not be surprised if they offload some of them to bring in a star player (i.e. DeMarcus Cousins, Bradley Beal etc.)
Detroit has been one of the surprise teams coming out of the east thus far, as they currently hold down the 7th seed, thanks to Andre Drummond who is having a monster season on the boards and in general. Reggie Jackson has done a solid job filling in for Brandon Jennings and has ultimately; singlehandedly put Jennings on the trade block. There is nothing flashy about the numbers that Detroit puts up on the offensive end, but they rank in the top half of the NBA when it comes to opponent’s points per game (8th) and opponent’s field goal percentage (16th), which has kept the Pistons in quite a few games this season. Look for the Pistons to unload Jennings at some point this season-either prior to the trade deadline, or on trade deadline day-and get some picks in return, or players who can contribute off the bench. Maybe even a big name power forward the team can pair up with Drummond. Pistons need to further develop rookie, Stanley Johnson, who I think can be a very good two-way small forward in the league. No surprise that Detroit is ranked 2nd in team rebounding, most of it thanks to Drummond (#NBAVote Andre Drummond, by the way).
After a great season last year, I had higher expectations for the Bucks, who currently sit 13th in the tough Eastern Conference (still feels weird to say that). The Bucks have played some decent basketball at home, but are only 5-18 on the road, which is the third worst record when it comes to the east. On the defensive end is where the Bucks get into the most trouble. They allow 104 points and close to 46% shooting from opponents, which will not cut it, especially in the surging east. Looking at this Milwaukee team, there is plenty of talent-no question about that, but they cannot seem to put it all together. If they can improve their play on the road in the second half of the season, I could see them potentially making a push for the 7th or 8th seed in the east. But there is still plenty of work to do.
New Orleans Pelicans
Well, it has been another tough start down in New Orleans. Anthony Davis has once again missed a handful of games due to injury and the Pelicans are 0-5 when Davis sits out. The Pelicans rank in the middle of the pack in many offensive and defensive categories, which is not good enough, if they want to make the playoffs. The trio of: Gordon, Holiday and Evans has not been good enough in Davis’ absence and it may be time to look to offload some of the aforementioned players. Ryan Anderson has had a good season and the Pelicans will probably dangle the big man in trade talks to bring in a big name point guard, shooting guard or small forward. There are plenty of holes on this team, if you ask me. Recent rumours have the Pelicans targeting Kings swingman, Rudy Gay, which I am not sure is the answer. Rudy is a volume shooter, when the Pelicans really need to get the ball to AD as much as possible and let him do damage at the rim. It should be a very busy next month or so for these struggling Pelicans.
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.