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NBA Mid-Season Storylines: Are We Buying The Hype?

This season in the NBA has reached the halfway point, with no shortage of entertainment. With the standings shaping up before the All-Star break, and many stars breaking out, these are the biggest storylines to watch as the season continues.

Do the Golden State Warriors Break Up The Dynasty?

From the years of 2015-2022, one team seemed to run the NBA. The Golden State Warriors made 6 appearances in the Finals, while winning 4 championships. Their "dynasty" is run by the Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, defensive star power forward Draymond Green, and Head Coach Steve Kerr. There were a few years where the dynasty entered a "super team" status when they added superstar Forward Kevin Durant via free agency in 2016. Their latest championship was in 2022, and all signs pointed towards the Warriors continuing their run. However, it seems this year might be where all tires give out on the party bus. The Warriors currently sit in 12th place in a loaded Western Conference, with an 18-22 record so far. Their biggest flaw is the youth of "the field". With the big three of Thompson, Green and Curry in their mid-30's, they are forced to carry the load against their competition who have stars in their late teens to mid 20's just entering or well into their prime years. Another issue is Green's availability. When he's on the court and locked in, he is the best passing forward with an elite basketball IQ, and a tremendous defender both on and off the ball. However, he has an attitude problem. This year in particular he has been suspended for a multitude of games for committing multiple violent acts such as punching Phoenix Suns Center Jusuf Nurkić (JEW-SIF NER-KICH) and choking Minnesota Timberwolves Center Rudy Gobert (Goh-BEAR). He has only played in 16 out of 40 possible games this season because of both suspensions and injuries. These issues should raise the question for the Warriors next best move as an organization.

The best solution for Golden State is to blow it up, and start over. They weren't afraid to make a big move when they traded for future Hall Of Fame Point Guard Chris Paul, but they traded Jordan Poole to the Wizards, losing a key piece to their 2022 championship team and youth movement. With Thompson set to enter free agency after the season with the desire to win as many championships as possible, it might be time for the Warriors to recover some assets to rebuild the roster. He is currently averaging 17.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, while shooting only 38.6% from beyond the arc. The glory days for the Dubs were amazing, but the organization can't keep re-living them every year after the ball tips off in October. It's time for them to start over, and instead re-create the unforgettable days in the Bay Area.

The Next Tim Duncan Vs. Kevin Garnett Rivalry Is Born

The association introduced one of the best rookie classes since 2003, headlined by the French Phenom Victor Wembenyama (WEM-BEN-YAH-MUH) selected # 1 from the San Antonio Spurs. He joins another player from the previous draft class who missed the season with an injury, classifying him as a rookie this season. Chet Holmgren (HOME-GRIN) a Center from Gonzaga, was drafted #2 overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, he missed last season with a Lisfranc fracture he sustained in an the off-season but has since recovered to thrive with the Thunder. "Wemby" and Holmgren have been atop the Rookie Of The Year ladder, with neither player gaining the upper hand. These two seven-footers may very well be the reincarnation of the Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett rivalry. These two Hall Of Fame big men went against each other with fans lining up to buy tickets to see them battle it out during their careers. The same can be said with Wemby being the next greatest Spur under coach Greg Popovich, and Holmgren who has been a huge need for OKC to prove their legitimacy in the NBA. This season Wemby is averaging 19.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game, leading the team in those categories. Holmgren is averaging 17.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. He leads the team in rebounds and blocks per game. Who knows who will be on top at the season's conclusion, but the NBA has gained yet another rivalry to watch with these two young super-stars in the making.

Lights, Camera, Clippers!

In Los Angeles, there has been plenty of star-powered entertainment on the court. However, it's coming from the Clippers instead of the Lakers this season. The Clippers led by Head Coach Tyronn Lue are currently 4th in the Western conference with a record of 27-14. Two-way stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard (Kuh-WHY) are joined by reunited teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden to lead the charge. Traditionally with the Clippers, the same concerns arose ever since Leonard and George were acquired. The biggest concern was availability, as one or both stars were missing games in the most crucial times. Since Leonard came to LA, he has never played more than 60 games in a season, and George hasn't played more than 56 in a season. This season they are at 36 and 38 games respectfully out of 41 total games played. Leonard is averaging 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game, while George is averaging 23.9 points, 1.6 steals, and has shooting splits of 46.8/42.1/91.1% this season.

A strength masked by a concern is their depth. They have one of the deepest rosters in the league, with role players like Norman Powell, Ivica Zubac (EVE-its-uh ZOO-Bahtz), Westbrook, Daniel Theis (Tice), and Terrance Mann with some having to come off the bench. The Clippers have so many talent pieces to fit the puzzle, and there's no question Lue can fit them together to be successful. A proven winner, Lue won a championship in 2016 leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the greatest comeback in Finals history (down 3-1 to the 73-9 Warriors). The concern for the Clippers is sacrifice. The "one ball" narrative has been played out, but what about the "48 minutes" and "last shot" narratives? Maybe the latter is played out as well but someone on LA has to sacrifice their potential for the team to reach theirs. That player has been Westrbook. Ever since Harden was acquired early in the season, the chemistry took a while to gel. It took Westbrook to volunteer to come off the bench for the team to succeed. The former MVP is currently averaging 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. Harden, another former MVP, is averaging 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 8.4 assists per game this season with the Clippers. The stars are finally in LA, but the question still remains if they are able to click this well in the playoffs.

The Toronto Raptors Reshape The East

After two blockbuster trades this season, the Toronto Raptors are set for a rebuild around emerging star Scottie Barnes. The first trade was completed with the Knicks centered around forward OG Anunoby (O G Ann-uh-no-bee) going to New York, and RJ Barrett going (back home) to Canada with Immanuel Quickly. Anunoby seems to be what the Knicks need to take the next step. Before the trade, they ranked 19th in defensive rating, giving up 116.7 points per 100 possessions. This includes ranking last in the month of December with a rating of 124.5. After the trade, New York is 9-2 with OG, with a defensive rating of 112.5, ranking 7th in the league. The trade has definitely been benefited the Knicks, as they are currently 5th in the East with a record of 26-17. This move should give stars Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle the ability to prove the Knicks are not to be messed with.

The other trade recently occurred, involving All-Star forward Pascal Siakam (Pass-Cal See-AHK-am) going to the Indiana Pacers, for three first round picks, and Bruce Brown. The Pacers are in a similar situation as the Knicks, and they wanted to make an "all-in" move on a star player to pair with Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner. Siakam is on an expiring contract, and while he peaked interest everywhere, the worry was his long-term commitment wherever he went. This move seems to fit like a glove for both Siakam and the Pacers. Head Coach Rick Carlisle is an offensive minded coach, and he already has his guys Turner and Haliburton and Buddy Hield. Siakam is another "Carlisle guy" and he should thrive with Indiana. Haliburton is currently averaging 23.6 points, 12.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game, soon to be selected as a first time All-Star. Turner is averaging 17.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game in 41 contests. Hield is averaging 13.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, while shooting 39.1% from three this year. The question is does the move vault them to championship status. At 24-19, the Pacers find themselves in 7th place in the East, tied for 6th. Since joining the Pacers, Siakam has averaged 18.0 points, 5.0 assists, while shooting 53.6% from the field. With the remaining second half of the season and players coming back from injury including Haliburton, the potential for a run is there. This however, could be a better long-term move as the 29-year-old Siakam makes a home in Indy.


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