With the halfway point of the season coming and going, what NBA teams are ahead of the pack?
The top five teams listed here are the usual suspects that have been at the top throughout the year.
While that is true, they should make for an interesting playoff race come April.
The Bucks are one of only two teams with more wins than the Golden State Warriors (Raptors also have 40).
The deer are also led by a ‘freak’ athlete: Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is having one of his best career seasons, averaging 27 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists (all career highs).
But he is not a one-man show. Brook Lopez averages 12.2 points per game, Eric Bledsoe averages 15.9 and Khris Middleton averages 17.3.
Anyone thinking the Bucks are not a serious contender need to watch them play a few games this year.
Golden State Warriors
America’s half-hafted, half-loved sweethearts are right back where they have been the last four years.
Everyone knows what each player brings individually to the team and can do scoring-wise. But as a team, they led the league by scoring 119.1 points per game.
The defense could be somewhat of worry, as they are in the bottom half of the league in opponents’ scoring. But, overall, the Warriors are still really good and even had separate eight-game and 11-game winning streaks. During that 11-game streak, the Warriors had convincing road wins over Boston and Denver.
Kawhi Leonard has come back this season from last year’s injury with a vengeance. He’s averaging a career-high for points (27.3) and rebounds (7.9) per game. He is also paired up with Kyle Lowry and, now, Marc Gasol, making the Raptors an even better defensive team.
Danny Green, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet are also giving big contributions to make the team’s depth deadly.
Needless to say, The Raptors are only just behind the Warriors and Bucks and could beat either.
Denver had a decent season last year, but have taken the Western Conference by storm this season.
They were the only team to hang with the Warriors record-wise for a while and are still the closest in the west.
Offensively, Denver is 15th in the league in points per game.
Defensively, though, the Nuggets are sixth, only allowing 107.1 points per game.
Jamal Murray has stepped up as a leader the team needs this season, averaging 18.5 points and five assists.
Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap are an amazing frontcourt, and other role players are filling in nicely in Denver.
Oklahoma City Thunder
It is interesting to see the Thunder over the Pacers, who have a better record than Oklahoma City.
But the Pacers do not have Victor Oladipo for the rest of the year.
And it is very interesting to see the Thunder over the Boston Celtics. But the Thunder deserve it.
Boston had a bad home loss to the Lakers on a final shot where they rebounded poorly, giving Rajon Rondo the chance for the win. The Celtics should have also just won when they were up six points with 1:24 left in the game.
A big part of the Thunder’s success is Dennis Schroder.
Russell Westbrook is having a terrible season shooting-wise, though still getting his triple-doubles.
Schroder is averaging 15.7 points and 4.2 assists off the bench, leading the second unit.
After getting rid of the dead weight that was Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder are poised for a postseason run.
Featured Image courtesy of Demver Stiffs.