In our new weekly feature John Cronin breaks down what is happening in the NBA world and lets us know what he thinks is good and not so good in the league…
The San Antonio Spurs
The epitome of consistency in the National Basketball Association, Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the San Antonio Spurs. For the past 20 years the Spurs have been contending for an NBA championship, there isn’t any team in the league who can say that and 2017 will be no different. After losing the franchises greatest player Tim Duncan you would expect the Spurs to go through some phase of regression, but we are at the half way point of the season and they are sitting pretty with the second best record in the league behind the stacked Golden State Warriors.
The Spurs are on a 3 game win streak, including an overtime victory against the NBA Champions in Cleveland with their quite unassuming star Kawhi Leonard going for a career high 41 points, proving that he can do it on both ends of the floor.
The Spurs will go deep in the playoffs this year but a Championship looks out of reach, Popovich isn’t worried, he’s concentrating on 2018. It is important to remember that there is an incredible batch of free agents available this summer. Steph Curry will be at the top of every team’s list but realistically he’s not leaving the Bay Area. Who is the 2nd best free agent available? Chris Paul, Paul whose main concern is winning a ring to cement a legacy will find San Antonio a pretty attractive destination. The Spurs will have core of Kawhi Leonard and LeMarcus Aldridge, proven vets Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, an abundance of above average role players as well as the NBA’S best coach Greg Popovich.
May be a little early but my pick for the 2018 NBA Champion is the San Antonio Spurs with Finals MVP Chris Paul Leading the way (that escalated quickly).
Russell Westbrook is a man on a mission, after Kevin Durant left Oklahoma to join the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook took it personally. Since the beginning of the season Westbrook has been on a statistical rampage, currently averaging 30.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game it is highly probabile that Westbrook will become only second player ever and the first in 38 years to finish the season averaging a triple double.
As incredible as Westbrook has been the same cannot be said for the rest of his OKC teammates. The Thunder are currently middling in 6th place in the Western conference and It is hard to see the Thunder going past the second round of the playoff, even with Westbrooks heroics.
Last Thursday the Thunder went up against K.D’s Warriors, and in 21 point blowout the Warriors proved why they are the favourites to win it all. Westbrooks week of misery completed when he was snubbed as an all-star starter for the Western conference, Which we will go over in our section.
All Star Starters Selection
In the grand scheme of things how important is the NBA All-star game? The best players in the Eastern conference go up against the best players in the Western conference in an exhibition game, which due to the lack of defence descends into an utter farce. Sure it’s nice to see the best players I the world performing moves which they would never dream of using in an actual NBA game, but does it really matter?
This week the NBA All Star game starters were selected by fan, media and player vote. Normally the starters are chosen solely from the fan vote, but the league decided to change this rule because last year the nation of Georgia ran a campaign to get center Zaza Pachulia starting in the game.
The changing OF the voting system isn’t my gripe but rather who was selected. The Eastern Conference starters consists of Cavs pair LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Bulls Jimmy Butler, Raptors DeMar DeRozen and the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo. All outstanding players but where’s center? Yes this isn’t a meaningful game and the center position is no longer considered the most important in the modern day NBA, but come on! No center?
The other problem I have with the starter’s selection is the snub of Russell Westbrook. Russ is having a historical season, it should have been a no brainer that Westbrook and James Harden started in the back court, but instead it Steph Curry will be lining up with Harden. Curry is having a good season but you cannot compare it to what Westbrook is doing. Then again if you’re complaining about the 2 time reigning league MVP starting in the All Star game the NBA is in pretty good shape.