Basketball and Baseball probably have the most popular All-Star breaks but fans like me anticipate all-star break because we know some intense games are in the horizon. Now that we have passed the circus of All-Star weekend, its time for players to really show up and produce if they haven't already. If you're team is in the playoff conversation, this half of the season is where you make your claim as to why you are apart of the 16 teams that will make it. All-Star break also gives us time to really sit take a breath and evaluate the season and what has happened throughout the year. With games being on everyday, it's easy to get loss and blinded by the nonsense of NBA season talk. One player I think we all can agree is Kevin Durant, we all know he is the best player in the NBA right now.
Spike basically said what we all have been thinking for the past month. Since I wrote Humble Assassin, KD has abused some of the leagues elite and seemed to get better by the day. I would like to thank the man upstairs for allowing me to see the growth of Kevin Durant. Every game you can see the growth of KD but what I notice most is the hunger. He is really tired of being in 2nd place in the public's eye. He is eyeing on the best players in the league and checking them off like Chad Johnson in 2005. On January 29th, he payed a visit to South Beach to take on the LeBron James and the Heat and left with a 112-95 victory. The victory was great for the Thunder because one of the biggest stories of the game was how well the Thunder supporting cast played. Jeremy Lamb, Derek Fisher, and Serge Ibaka combining for 55 points. The biggest story of the game though was how KD and LeBron went bucket for bucket in the third quarter. From what I saw, I would say that KD got the best of Bronny that day. Even though Bronny scored 34, it didn't look better than KD's 34. Melo got it too, seeing KD drop 41 points, 10 boards, and 9 dimes in the Thunder's 112-100 victory. Melo only scored 15 points, 5-19 from the field while being guarded by KD for majority of the game. KD is "off in the zone"and no one can get him out of it right now. If the season ended today he would be the MVP. He leads the league in scoring, averaging 31.5 a game, with a career high in assist, 5.5 a game, while snatching 8 boards a game. Since December 27th 2013, their 1st game without Russell Westbrook, the Thunder has went 19-7 and KD has played out his mind, averaging 38 points, 6.7 assist, and 8 boards. I think we all agree that that is MVP worthy.
Bronny and the Heat haven't been dethroned yet but it's not crazy to think that they will be. As of today the Heat are 2 1/2 games behind the Indiana Pacers with a 37-14 record. Prior to Christmas, the Pacers were the best team in the NBA, and Paul George was the best player. The Heat split with the Pacers this season so far, but overall I can say they haven't looked like the best team. In the Heat defense (feel crazy saying that) D-Wade hasn't really been available this season only playing in 36 of the 51 games so far. Some think D-Wade is on the cusp of retiring but I think their just resting him until this part of the season and playoff time. The Heat don't really need Wade right now, and with his knee problems, why not let him chill now be and fresh for April. With LeBron, Bosh, and the rest of the talented Heat roster, not having D-Wade will not hurt them during the regular season, playoff time is a different story. I still think the Heat are the best team from top to bottom but I do think the Pacers are playing better. This is when things really get interesting for LeBron. As the best player in the league, it really bothers him that people think KD is better than him and the Pacers seem to have a better team. With 2 rings already, some may say Bronny has already solidified his greatness, and yes he did, but if he wants to continue to aim for that Magic, MJ, and Kobe status, he has to defend his throne.
The East is still inferior to the West as far as team records go but shoutout to them for shocking the world and grinding out a victory in the All-Star game. Even though the records are bad, I'm still interested to see what a couple of the young teams are going to do. One team I'm going to put a close eye on this half of the season are the Wizards. John Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt has given the city of DC a tank full of optisim about the future of Washington Basketball and rightfully so. Wizards are currently 25-27 , 6th in the east, and I think they will stay in that spot for the rest of the season. John Wall has been playing the best basketball of his career this season, averaging 20 points, 8.5 dimes, and 2 steals a game, all career highs. Wall has accepted the role of being the leader of this team very well, only in his 3rd season, but Bradley Beal is definitely the appropriate sidekick for Wall. Only in his 2nd season, Beal has made good improvements on his game, averaging 17 points a game, 4 more than what he average last season. With Walls's speed and Beal's shooting ability this 1-2 combo will be an issue come April.
Its crazy to think that the 8th seed in the West would be a 3rd seed in the East. The 8th seed right now is the Golden State Warriors, which is a disappointment to me. With the Lakers without Kobe and the off-season additions they made, I thought the Warriors were going to be one of the elites of the West. So far they haven't shown me that, though I still think they are a dangerous team. One team that I am shocked with is the Phoenix Suns, who is 30-21 with first year head coach Jeff Hornacek. The reason I think the Suns have been the most surprising team is because they have no superstars, none of their players were voted to the All-Star games. This is just a young team, led by Goran Dragic, that plays very well together. Even after Eric Bledose went down after 24 games, they still have managed to keep it together. Dragic is my most improved player so far this year and his teammate Gerald Green can also get that title too. Both are having career years and elevated their games, especially Gerald Green who has developed a consistent jumper. Come playoff time I think it will be difficult for the Suns to compete with the other teams because they are missing that star player and you need that go-to player.
All-Star Break Awards
MVP - Kevin Durant
ROY - Michael Carter Williams
6th Man - Jamal Crawford
Most Improved - Goran Dragic
DPOY - Anthony Davis