Thursday, 24 January 2013


By Quett Walker.

With half of the 2012-2013 NBA season over, there’s no doubt that we’ve experienced a few surprises. So let’s take a look at the top 10 most surprising things of the season so far.

1.  Lakers Disappointing Performance
This has to be the most astonishing thing so far. The biggest story in the off season was the formation of a Laker ‘super’ team which involved the additions of veteran point guard Steve Nash and the heavily pursued, best centre in the league, Dwight Howard. Experts, analysts and NBA legends afar were already crowning this Laker team the NBA champions even before the season began. Fast forward to today and the Lakers are 7 games under .500 with a paltry record of 17-25 and are in 12th in the Western Conference.
This could be down to the fact that Dwight Howard is coming off of back surgery and hence hasn’t fully recovered as yet or the fact that Steve Nash was out for 24 out of the 42 games this season due to nerve irritation from a fractured leg. Firing head coach Mike Brown 4 games into the season and replacing him with a coach in Mike D'Antoni whose up-tempo system doesn’t mesh with the old legs of this Laker team doesn’t help the situation either.
One bright spark is that Kobe Bryant is second in the league in points per game at 29.2. However the Lakers are losing overall and this situation closely resembles their 2004 – 2005 season when the Lakers missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
Now the Lakers are without Jordan Hill for the reminder of the season, a disgruntled Pau Gasol and a recovering Dwight Howard and the purple and gold nation have their hand on the panic button.
2. Los Angeles Clippers 17 game winning streak
The other team in LA however has not been experiencing a sub-par season whatsoever. The Clippers have announced their arrival into the upper echelon of the West Conference by going on a franchise best 17 game winning streak this season. High expectations are present as they should be able to   build from their improvement from last season.  Not only did they make the playoffs for the fourth time in 28 years last season, but they have managed to put a dent into the Laker’s ‘Little Brother’ persona held by many basketball fans. No one actually thought they would have experienced this much success this early in the season.
Ever since acquiring Chris Paul, one of the best point guards in the league, the Clippers have actually achieved quite a high level of success. With the continuing evolution of Blake Griffin and with additions such as Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and Eric Bledsoe, the Los Angeles Clippers have shown that they are to be taken seriously as a contender in the West as they currently sit third in the Western conference standings at 32 -11.
3. Terrible play of the Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics were envisaged to be the only team that could contend with the Heat for the Eastern conference championship and so far this season, this has definitely not been the case. Many attribute their poor performance to the effects of too many miles on the ageing legs of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the underachievement of Jeff Green and the lack of improvement on the part of Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics possess a talented roster and are one of the best teams in the East but are yet to showcase this and as a result have slipped down the standings in the conference to the no 8 position with a record of 20 -21.
The Celtics have prided themselves on being a defensive minded and tough team and although they are an experienced team, the expectations of them being one of the two teams left in the Eastern conference when the smoke clears has dropped immensely.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have to play at an elite level and contributions from the supporting cast such as Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, Brandon Bass and especially Jeff Green are vital to propel the Celtics to the top of the east once again.
Ultimately, the fate of the Celtics lies with Rajon Rondo. Rondo is the engine that drives this Celtics team and it needs to be in tip top condition to reach its destination of securing another NBA championship.
4. The Streaking Knicks
With Amare Stoudemire expected to be sidelined due to injury for the first two months of the season, everyone thought the Knicks would be just another decent team, however they have managed to exceed these expectations. Many factors contribute to fuelling the success of the Knicks. Their superb 3 point shooting, the tenacious defense and rebounding prowess of Tyson Chandler and the veteran presence of Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace.
However the most vital factor has to be the leadership and fantastic play of one of the best offensive players in NBA, Carmelo Anthony.  He has definitely thrived in the absence of Stoudemire as this makes him the number 1 option in the Knick offense. Anthony has not only put up 3 40+ point games this season so far (with two 45 point games), he is second in the league in points per game 29.3 only behind Kobe Bryant. Anthony’s emergence as a leader and his commitment on the offensive and defensive end has become contagious as this has been instilled throughout the Knick team. 
With the return of Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks have decided to bring him off the bench to minimise the disruption to the chemistry. This strategy has been beneficial as the Knicks are currently in second place in the East at 25-14, only a half a game behind the first place Miami Heat.
It is doubtful that the Knicks can maintain their 3 point shooting percentage which has been responsible for them for winning games. It will be interesting to see if the Knicks can sustain their incredible performance through times of adversity.
5. The Improved Warriors 
Everyone remembers when the 8th seeded Warriors beat the 1st seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 playoffs in one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. This seems like light years ago since the Golden State Warriors haven’t experienced a winning season since the 2007-2008 NBA season.
David Lee, Stephen Curry, Jarret Jack, Klay Thompson, Karl Landry and veteran Richard Jefferson form a young core that gel together. With ex-NBA point guard Mark Jackson in his second year as the head coach of the Warriors, he has this team playing at a very high level. The defensive minded Jackson has instilled his principles in this young Warriors team and as result it has managed to reflect his personality. The Warriors currently sit 5th in the Western conference standings with a record of 26-15.
The Warriors performance has brought the basketball bug back to Oakland and has everyone in the bay arena jumping with excitement again. This has longed been missed in area that is basketball rich and is responsible for producing NBA talent such as Jason Kidd and Gary Payton. Hopefully the Warriors will be able to maintain this level of consistency.

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