We are more than half way through the 2017-18 NBA Season.
Mid-Season grades for the Western Conference.
Golden State Warriors…43-13.
The Warriors are on pace to have the best record in the history of the NBA, over a 4-year period. Last season they set the record, with 204 wins in 3 years (1995-98 Bulls had 203). This team keeps rolling along. Their “Big 4” of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson average about 33 minutes per game, over 82 points, 22 assists and about 23 rebounds per game. David West leads the team in bench scoring averaging 7.2 points per game. Make no mistake about it, this team counts on their “core 4″ to carry them night in and night out. The should have a clear path to the Western Conference Finals.
Golden State gets an A Grade.
The Rockets have won 9 out of their last 10 games. The acquisition of Chris Paul has been a huge boost for this team. Paul is averaging 19 points,8 assists and 1.8 steals per game. James Harden is having another MVP-like season. He is averaging 31.3 points and 8.9 assists per game. Clint Capela has been a force down low averaging 14.5 points and 11.1 rebounds. The Rockets should win over 60 games, but can they stop teams in the 4th quarter of a playoff game? Harden and Paul have a history of coming up short in the post-season.
Houston gets an A- Grade.
San Antonio Spurs…35-22.
Say it out loud… with 1 all-star, LeMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs have the 3rd best record in the brutal Western Conference. Aldridge is averaging 22 points per game, the next leading scorer, who is active, is Pau Gasol averaging just over 10 points per contest. There is not a coach in the country that does more with less than Gregg Popovich. The Spurs will win 50 straight games for 19 straight years. That is a record that will never be broken. If and when Kawhi Leonard gets healthy, they could compete for an NBA Championship.
San Antonio gets an A- Grade.
The “Big 3” of Jimmy Butler, Karl-Athony Townes and Andrew Wiggins are averaging over 60 points per game combined. This team has improved drastically from last season and should win 50-55 games. But, I just don’t see them getting to the Western Conference Finals.
Minnesota gets a B- Grade.
Oklahoma City Thunder… 32-25.
I was absolutely shocked the Thunder didn’t go out and get a legitimate three-point shooter at the trade deadline. Adding someone like Channing Frye would have been the perfect stretch four for OKC. Russell Westbrook is close to averaging a triple double per game for a 2nd straight year. He is averaging 25.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game. Steven Adams has become the number 3 option behind Paul George. Adams is averaging 13.8 points and 9 rebounds per game. He is shooting 63% from the floor. This team has enough talent to get to the Western Conference Finals.
Oklahoma gets a B- Grade.
Portland Trail Blazers… 31-26.
Has there ever been a number 1- 2 option, in the history of the NBA, more underrated than Damian Lillard and C. J. McCollum? The two are averaging 47 combined points per game. Jusuf Nurkic has been slightly disappointing. He is averaging 14 points and 8 rebounds per game. I thought he would score closer to 18 or 19 points per contest. The Blazers bench can contribute on a nightly basis. If Lillard has the ball, late in games, this team can be very scary.
Portland gets a B- Grade.
How has this team won 30 games? No one expected them to be a playoff team this season and no one outside of Denver knows how well they have been playing. Denver has 9 players averaging over 20 minutes per game and 8 points per game. This is a well-balanced team. Gary Harris leads the group averaging 17.3 points per game and Center, Nikola Jokic is averaging 16.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists. This is a feel-good story. If they make the playoffs, head coach, Michael Malone deserves a raise.
Denver gets a B- Grade.
New Orleans Pelicans…29-26.
This team was playing well before DeMarcus Cousins went down with a season ending injury. Cousins was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. That will not be replaced. Power Forward Anthony Davis needs to be an “All-World” player and carry this team into the post-season. Davis is averaging 27 points and 10 rebounds per contest. The addition of Nikola Mirotic from Chicago should provide some offense. In 3 games with his new team he is averaging 14 points per game.
New Orleans gets a C+ Grade.
The Clippers traded away Blake Griffin. It is almost as if they are trying to tank this season, but Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan aren’t letting that happen. Williams is averaging 23.3 points per game and Jordan is averaging 15 rebounds per contest. Clippers have an outside shot of making the post-season
Clippers get a C Grade.
Utah Jazz…28-28. They traded away Rodney Hood to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Jazz won’t make the playoffs
Utah gets a C- Grade.
Los Angeles Lakers…23-32.
LaVar Ball guaranteed the Lakers would make the post-season this year. He was way off. The Lakers traded Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland. Isaiah Thomas will now run the point guard position. This move makes no sense. Lonzo Ball is supposed to the PG of the future, Ball is a terrible shooter and won’t thrive playing the shooting guard position. Having Thomas on the team is going to limit the growth of Ball.
Lakers Get a C- grade.
Memphis, Phoenix, Dallas and Sacramento all get a D grade or lower.
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Next Article… The Cavs are back on track.