After a long hiatus from writing (school obligations), I figured it was time for me to get back on my sports writing horse. I wasn’t sure what to write about at first, as both NCAA and professional basketball have been going on for about two months now. Then, noticed a topic that has been talked about frequently in the last few weeks and decided to look into it for myself.
That topic? The latest NBA standings. In case you haven’t seen it, click here.
It looks fine if you focus on the Western Conference. However, when you take a look at the Eastern Conference, there’s a clear dividing line between the better Eastern teams and the… not-so-great. On the East, only two teams are above .500 and one team is right at it. All other teams have a record of .440 or below.
For a while, I thought about why the standings have turned out this way. The answer lies in looking at the teams in the conferences:
Eastern Conference – The only teams above .500 are the Indiana Pacers (.870) and the Miami Heat (.739). This comes as no surprise, considering these two teams faced off in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Pacers-Heat series was arguably the most physical and challenging series of the playoffs.
After the Heat, the Atlanta Hawks are right at .500, followed by the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons who are both currently 11-14. When looking at these teams, an important thing to remember is that many are in the rebuilding stages. There are new coaches and players that the returning players must get adjusted to. During the off-season, many trades took place that were for rebuilding purposes. This includes trades to the Celtics, Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls. True, trades do happen, but there wasn’t as much stability after the trades occurred.
The teams are also teams that have stand-out players, instead of being stand-out teams. The Cleveland Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving, the New York Knicks have Carmello Anthony (and arguably JR Smith) and the Chicago Bulls have Derrick Rose (when he’s healthy). However, when it comes to playing as a team to win games, they’ve often come up short. Certain players may feel the need to be the team’s “savior” and want to be the one to lead them to a win. Sometimes it works, while other times it doesn’t, especially when your opponent is a good TEAM (not just a team with good players).
Now, to the West –
One of the biggest surprises is that the Portland Trail Blazers have the best record in their conference. But after watching Damian Lilliard hit a 14-foot fadeaway in overtime, leaving one-tenth of a second on the clock, it’s not hard to believe. Right behind the Trail Blazers at .826 are the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. Next, are the LA Clippers with a 16-9 record.
These teams are all very competitive, play well as a team and, for the most part, have been unaffected by trading. The most recent trade occurred within the Western Conference, sending Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to the Sacramento Kings from the Toronto Raptors. The only major player in this trade was Gay, who was the gold nugget in the Kings’ win against the Rockets Sunday night.
Western Conference teams also have working parts and stand-out players that make up the team, as a whole. While they don’t generate much public attention, the Spurs, for one, have a key player at every position. They play well together and have exceptional bench depth.
Because this is the NBA and the season has just started, each team’s record may change and Eastern Conference teams have a chance to improve.
The question is: Will they do it?
In my opinion, probably not. Based on their upcoming schedules, it doesn’t look likely, unless they put it in high gear and can will themselves to win the majority of their next 5-10 games.
- Our NBA Power Rankings: The Knicks And Nets Are Out Of The Cellar (sportsgrid.com)
- NBA Power Rankings (toughlovesports.com)
- NBA standings 2013: Fierce battle ongoing in Western Conference playoff race (sbnation.com)