LeBron James finally moved to the Los Angeles Lakers last summer after another disappointing rally with the Cleveland Cavaliers. But everyone has moved on from that as the 73rd season of the National Basketball Association commenced on October 16, 2018 with 30 teams from both the East and West vying once again for basketball supremacy—and then some.
Now that the festivities of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game has dwindled and the teams are back at it again, let’s look at the biggest surprises of this season so far:
The highs and lows of two Los Angeles teams
When LeBron made the move to the Los Angeles Lakers, basketball fans set their expectations high for the team. After all, they already have one of the best players in the NBA on their side. Basketball analysts predicted that they would be on the seventh or eighth place in the Western conference.
But on December 5, the Lakers made it all the way to the fourth seed, thanks to the leadership of their new star player. 2019 didn’t start well for the team, however, with the untimely injury of James and they’ve struggled to maintain their position in the conference now sitting at the eighth seed. The Lakers was able to pull of an impressive win against the Oklahoma Thunder, but they need to work harder to improve their standings. If they do make it to the playoffs, we can all look forward to James taking this team to another level because it’s what he does best.
On the other side of the spectrum is the Los Angeles Clippers. With no superstars and no high expectations, the Clippers were predicted to be at the bottom of the seed—but they surprised everyone.
The team spent two weeks in the top three, even keeping the number one spot for a few days. As of today, they are at the seventh seed while the Lakers is at number ten. This impressive performance is heavily credited to key players like Montrezl Harrel, Tobias Harris and Shae Gilegous-Alexander who have all contributed to the Clippers’ blowout wins. So, for those betting on basketball through the SBG Global Sportsbook will have good odds betting for the Clippers.
The Denver Nuggets is at the second seed just behind the Warriors
When the current NBA season started, no one would have ever talked about the Denver Nuggets making it to the Western Conference finals—but they might just make it there. Their 42 victories is mostly credited to the leadership of Nikola Jokic who the team drafted as the 41st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
It was considered as one of the greatest draft steals in history and Jokic has proven his worth by leading his team in points, assists, rebounds and steals for the second consecutive year, a feat achieved by only one other player, the NBA hall-of-famer Wilt Chamberlain.
Luka Doncic and his impressive rookie performance
The Dallas Mavericks may be at the number 13th spot in the Western Conference with only 27 wins, but its rookie Luka Doncic is definitely making noises this season and is poised to be the leading contender for Rookie of the Year. Averaging 20 points per game, Doncic leads all rookies in points and he also puts in at least five assists every game.
Paul George is leading the Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook has always been the go-to man for the OKC Thunder in every NBA season. But this time around, it is Paul George, another NBA veteran who has been leading the team to victories and not Westbrook. George may only be playing at least 35 minutes, his lowest since 2015, but he surely maximises his time on the court by scoring career-high points, assists and rebounds.
George is ranked fourth among the league’s small forwards and when combined with Westbrook’s 7th ranking in usage rate, the two make a lethal tandem that makes OKC Thunder one of the teams to beat this season. George has been single-handedly winning games for OKC Thunder and made an impressive three-point winning shot with only three seconds left last December where he finished with an impressive 47 points.
So, who will make it to the finals of the Eastern and Western Conferences? Defending champions Golden State Warriors are still dominating the West with the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder just behind them. It’s a different story on the other side of the country, however, with the Milwaukee Bucks surprisingly at the top seed followed by the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers. Top seed Cleveland Cavaliers, on the other hand, is now at the bottom of the standings with only 16 wins after LeBron James left the team for the Lakers.
In the end, it is still anybody’s game. So, basketball fans will have to watch out for the next few games that will determine who will make it to the top.