Now that we’ve arrived at all-star weekend, it might be a good time to look back at the best parts of the season to this point.
1) The better-than-advertised Eastern Conference: The Eastern Conference, often described as a basketball wasteland, features exciting teams this year. The Atlanta Hawks have the best record in the league and boast wins against the Western Conference elite. Chicago is possibly the most interesting team in the league with its combination of inconsistent play, talented players and front office turmoil. Toronto and Washington have continued to progress, with last year’s postseason experience driving them forward. Finally, Cleveland appears to be figuring out how to succeed with its star-studded roster.
2) Golden State Warriors postgame vines: Hardcore fans feed off NBA content, even stuff that doesn’t really have anything to do with basketball. The cream of the content this season have been the Golden State Warriors vines that pop up occasionally after big wins. These videos are an interesting behind-the-scenes look into what exactly happens on NBA chartered flights. The videos, often posted to Instagram by seldom-used center Festus Ezeli, paint a picture of what good team chemistry looks like.
3) Hassan Whiteside: Where on earth did this guy come from? In his past 10 games Whiteside has averaged 15.4 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks in 28.4 minutes per game. Since being drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft, he has shuffled between foreign teams in China and Lebanon and short stints in the NBA developmental league. With the way he’s producing it is safe to say he has found a home in the NBA. The 25 year-old center will be an unrestricted free agent after next season, and has played his way from fringe player to a much sought after asset.
4) Internal developments: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been vocal on issues circulating within the league, chiming in on subjects such as sports betting, playoff structures and international expansion. Unlike his predecessor David Stern, it appears as if Silver is forward-thinking and unafraid to throw his support behind potential changes to the league. It will be interesting to see if any of these discussions lead to real changes.
5) The Philadelphia 76ers finally have a mascot at their games. It’s a fluffy blue dog named Franklin. This leaves only five teams without mascots: the Nets, Clippers, Knicks, Lakers and Warriors. Step it up guys. Give the people what they want.
These are five brief storylines that have made this season particularly fun to watch. Reach out to me if you have any questions about the NBA. I’ll check back in after the all star break to forecast the teams to watch in the final stretch of the season.