NBA All-Star Break/Two Thirds Point of Season Review

Welcome back NBA fans! It is time for the player report card for the second third point of the season at the All-Star Break, using my proprietary grading system. The following list is the ranking of the top 25 players for the first third of the season.

 

  1. Russell Westbrook – +24.59
  2. Rajon Rondo – +23.27
  3. Chris Paul – +20.77
  4. Draymond Green – +20.25
  5. Ricky Rubio – +19.52
  6. Stephen Curry – +19.12
  7. LeBron James – +18.73
  8. John Wall – +18.73
  9. Kevin Durant – +18.06
  10. James Harden – +17.31
  11. Pau Gasol – +16.45
  12. DeAndre Jordan – +15.69
  13. Jimmy Butler – +15.63
  14. Kyle Lowry – +15.60
  15. Anthony Davis – +15.17
  16. Paul Millsap – +15.09
  17. Kawhi Leonard – +14.92
  18. Kemba Walker – +14.08
  19. Greg Monroe- +13.98
  20. Mike Conley – +13.68
  21. Isaih Thomas – +13.56
  22. Zaza Pachulia – +13.50
  23. Damian Lillard – +13.11
  24. Dwight Howard- +12.93
  25. Marc Gasol- +12.63

 

There are some new additions to this list from the first third of the season ranking I listed in my previous blog. Blake Griffin, Erik Bledsoe and Jarrett Jack are hurt and won’t play enough games to be included in the rankings this third of the season. In fact it appears that Jarrett Jack and Erik Bledsoe are lost for the season and Blake Griffin might be out for a while with his injury and suspensions for the assault he committed on one of the Clippers support staff. Andre Drummond fell off the list with his less than stellar play in the past month or so and Dwight Howard and Zaza Pachulia jumped up into the top 25 list with their recent fine play. Draymond Green and Stephen Curry just seem to get better as the year goes on. Draymond Green has elevated his game to such a level that he is playing in another zone right now. Stephen Curry looks like he could repeat as MVP this year. As I stated previously if the Warriors stay healthy they are going to win it all and will probably end up with the best season record ever! Russell Westbrook is another player that seems to just get better as the season goes on. He had a +52 game last month and he joins Ricky Rubio and Chris Paul as the only players that have that high of a single game grade. He is playing like a beast these days.

 

Last night I watched the All-Star game and I tell you I got bored watching these guys not playing any defense. Russel Westbrook was the MVP for the second year in a row and like I said he is playing really well right now. Congrats to Russell Westbrook on his MVP award for the game. Paul George came within a point (like Russell Westbrook did last year) of tying Wilt Chamberlain’s scoring record for the All-Star game. Even in a game where there was less than zero defense played today’s players still can’t beat Wilt’s scoring record; and people wonder why I say Wilt is the greatest player ever! Zach Lavine repeated as the slam dunk champion and Karl Anthony Towns won the skills competition. Congrats to my hometown Minnesota Timberwolves players for representing the team well. I would like to share a few thoughts on Zach Lavine. Zach Lavine could be that guy that the Timberwolves fans have been waiting for almost 30 years. He could be the guy that leads them to the title playing alongside Karl Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio and Gorgui Dieng. If he learns, like Michael and Kobe learned before him, to pull up and consistently make the jumper from 18-23 feet he could be a superstar like Air Jordan and Kobe. The Timberwolves need him to develop into a complete player and not just someone who is a high flying dunker. Jerry West told Kobe when he was a young player that he didn’t have to take it to the rack everytime he had the ball and that if he learned to play from the outside as well as he went to the basket he could be unstoppable. We all know that the rest is history. This is the ability I see in Zach Lavine but he needs a mentor to help him get there. Let’s hope the Timberwolves find him a proper mentor.

 

At the two thirds point of the season it is becoming clear that the following teams are the only real contenders for the NBA title this year: Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks. Toronto Raptors have been playing well as of late but I still not convinced that they are a real contender. As I stated previously Golden State will repeat as champions if Draymond Green keeps playing at the level he has been playing at and if the Warriors can keep Stephen Curry healthy and don’t get hit with injuries to their key players. If this doesn’t happen I see San Antonio Spurs against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals with San Antonio winning in seven games. As much as I like and respect LeBron James I have to pick the San Antonio Spurs to win the title because of their coach. Greg Popovich is the best coach in the NBA and he will be the difference in the finals. The darkhorse contender that could rise up and surprise everybody and win the title is the Atlanta Hawks. They have a very good coach and play well as a team and unlike most NBA teams they actually run plays instead of being stuck in the pick and roll offense that has infected the NBA over the past 15-20 years.

 

My next player report card will be posted at the two end of the season which at that time I will break down the playoff matchups and give you the eventual champion. Until the next blog post you can follow me on Twitter at @NBAMaven1. I appreciate any and all feedaback!

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