As we enter the month of December, we’ve already got a good feel of who is at the top of the NBA. In the West, we have to go with the ugly yellow Los Angeles Lakers, because their record simply says it: 12-1. In the East, it’s not a huge surprise that the Milwaukee Bucks are playing the best basketball. Their record stands at 9-1.
But two surprises have to be Orlando and Utah. Both of these teams came in with high expectations, and neither team has come close to their hopes. The Jazz always harbor modest hopes. It’s never a plan to go all the way for them, but to be at the one or two spot in the Midwest division and then get worked by San Antonio, or Portland, or even Dallas in the playoffs. Their record stands at a measly 5-9, and apparently it’s Stockton’s last season. Not the best way to go out Johnny, might want to reconsider and ask Karl what he thinks.
And then there’s Orlando. They have Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, rookie of the year Mike Miller and standout point guard Darrell Armstrong, and these guys aren’t even at .500. Their record is 7-8. I’m sorry but the East is once again much weaker than the West, so if you’re going to play sad teams like the Bulls, Cavs, Hawks and the Heat a few times each, you better at least be at .500. Not to mention with those ballers on your squad. One surprise on the upside has been Minnesota. K.G., this guy spits out double-doubles like a machine, and now he’s got other guys backing him up. Terrell is playing great at the point, dishing out 8.1 assists per contest. He makes good decisions and that’s what the point needs to do. Then you got Joe Smith, Peeler and Szczerbiak playing their roles as well as they can. The Timberwolves stand at a very respectable 10-2 atop the Midwest division.
How is Michael Jordan doing? Jordan is really good at basketball, and he’s proved that to all of us this season already. We all know he can still play, but what is up with that team of his? You know what Michael? You need to go up to that front office you own half of, and ask for a trade or two. Really what you need are two veteran players who might be able to play some clutch D and give a solid game every night. How about one or two guys you can talk to on and off the court about strategy and winning. The cast that Michael has right now is young, and he can just never tell who is going to show up to play night in and night out. The Wizards, well they stand at a disappointing 3-9.
I really hate the Lakers, but they’re the best team in the NBA right now. There is no reason why L.A. shouldn’t win 70 games this season. Teams that can potentially oust the Lakers exist. Three or four have the firepower and brains to do it. The Spurs are always tough, with Duncan averaging in the top 10 for points at 24.1 and leading the league in boards at 13.4. He lays the foundation for the team. The Blazers have the talent and the brains, but they need some time to figure out how they play best together. In the East there are two potential powerhouses: The Bucks and the Sixers. The Bucks have their own game; they produce on offense no problem, now we just need to see them play solid D the full 48 minutes. The Sixers still have what got them to the finals; they really just need to stay healthy. Iverson needs to score and Mutumbo needs to block Shaq.
The Portland Trailblazers? Sometimes I really just wish we could have Buck, Duck, Drexler, Porter and Kersey back as our starters. The good old days when we played the perfect quarter against the San Antonio Spurs, remember 49-17 in just one quarter, wow. Well now its D.A., Pip, Double D, Wallace and Bonzi. Dang I like that line-up. Erik Barkley and Stoudi can both start at the point, but we’re so much better off with the big line-up and those two guys coming off the bench. The Blazers are at .500, 7-7. Is this acceptable for a team with all this talent? Well it’s understandable that we have a new, younger coach, but they are better than just a .500 team. To win 50 games is a realistic goal for this team, and just make it to the playoffs in the fifth or sixth spot, the fourth would be nice though. Wallace needs to keep producing, and there needs to be more production off the bench. If Patterson can stay healthy and play his defense with the guidance of Scottie Pippen, Portland should be all right come the end of the season. The Blazers are definitely a team that needs to run on other teams, we got rid of our biggest slowest guy so nothing should stop the fast break now. Let’s stay optimistic and look for better things from the Blazers as the season progresses.