Oklahoma City Thunder: A+: Having the best record in the league sure silenced the whole ‘Westbrook vs. Durant power struggle’. Reggie Jackson seamlessly filled Eric Maynors shoes after his season ending injury and Harden is making a strong case for 6th man of the year. The only concern in OKC right now is the fact that their starting center, Kendrick Perkins, looks 37 and not 27. With no decent backups this could present a matchup problem in the playoffs should the Thunder run into the Grizzlies or Lakers. Right now though they are enjoying life on the top of the standings.
San Antonio Spurs: A+: Another year, another dominating regular season when everyone thought they were finally finished. They’ve been doing this without Manu Ginobili. Greg Popovich has been rationing the older players minutes which not only makes his players fresh for the playoffs, but also develops the younger talent on the team. He remains one of the best/underrated coaches in the league. It also helps that Tony Parker is having one of the best seasons of his career.
The season is half over so I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at how each team has fared so far and give them mid-season grades.
Let’s start with the Eastern Conference, going in order of current standing.
Miami Heat: A+: The East is as predictable as the West is unpredictable. I don’t think there’s a person on the planet who didn’t think Miami and Chicago would be the top 2 teams. LeBron is having his best season as a professional and has also managed to stay away from twitter, interviews, hour-long specials, and every other way he put his foot in his mouth last season. The supporting cast is much better this year after signing Battier, getting a steal in Norris Cole in the draft, and having a healthy Haslem and Miller. The road to the finals goes through Miami.
Chicago Bulls: A+: Only one game out of first and that’s with Rose missing a bunch of games. It doesn’t seem to matter who replaces Rose, they continued to win with John Lucas III and Mike James at the point. The best defense in the league and a deep bench. We should really just start the east playoffs with the conference finals, Chicago and Miami are so much better than the rest of the conference it’s almost unfair.
Indiana Pacers: A: This year’s most improved team. People barely talked about the David West signing, that was a very underrated move. You won’t seem them on national TV very often, so they’ve been flying under the radar and have quietly moved up to the #3 seed. This is a young team that’s is in a great situation cap-wise. They’ll need that cap space to make a move to put them in the same league with the top two teams in the conference, but even without making a move, as presently constructed they’ll be a tough out for years to come. Continue reading