NBA Midseason Update

Tony Zuliani '21, Contributor

SG Donovan Mitchell leading the Jazz to the best record in the NBA (Sports Illustrated)

A lot has happened in the NBA since last year when Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers took home the Larry O’Brien trophy. As all-stars on losing teams start to get shipped out to contending teams, few teams are deciding to keep their most valuable players, such as Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Bulls guard Zach LaVine. The big 3 era that many fans thought was over after Kevin Durant left Golden State to team up with Kyrie in Brooklyn was a false assumption. 

The Houston Rockets finally decided to ship off James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets to be paired up with all-stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. For Houston, they were able to get guard Victor Oladipo for their future, plus four first round picks in the coming years. For the Nets, they are finally able to get the big 3 that they have been hoping for, but for the price of big man Jarret Allen and Levert. With 32 year old DeAndre Jordan as their starting center, it is going to be interesting to see if the Nets go looking for a better center before the trade deadline, or stick with Jordan and face potential defensive breakdowns during the game.

The Utah Jazz have quietly started to show how dominant they are when Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert play at their best, as well as their shooters being able to shoot at high percentage rates consistently. The Jazz currently lead the NBA with a record of 27-8. They’re 3rd in PPG in the league with 116.4 as well as 3rd in 3P% with 39.6%. With the highest point differential in the league with +9.2, the Utah Jazz are currently 4th in Title Odds at 17.8%, just behind the Bucks, Lakers, and Nets. If the Jazz finish the 2nd half of the season strong, look for them to be playoff favorites even against teams like the L.A Clippers, and even the L.A Lakers. 

Joel Embiid is starting to become the MVP caliber player that the 76ers thought they were getting when they drafted him 2014. He is 2nd in MVP odds at +300 and is leading his team to a 23-12 record which is first in the Eastern Conference. Embiid is averaging a career high 29.8 PPG on 52.1% FG and 41.7% 3P. Even with Joel having the best season of his career, the 76ers still have roles that need to be filled on the offensive side of the court. Even with the recent additions of sharpshooters Danny Green and Seth Curry, the 76ers are still an average 3 point shooting team at best. If they keep shooting at this rate, the 76ers are going to need more out of Joel in the long run, and with a history of being injury prone, this could be a very disappointing season for the 6ers.

For the first season in a while, there are multiple teams that have a very good shot of making the NBA Finals, if not winning it. With Anthony Davis being hurt for the Lakers, many teams in the Western Conference have the opportunity to jump the Lakers in the standings and put themselves in better playoff position, and this is the same for teams in the Eastern Conference with Kevin Durant being out. The Clippers, Suns, Jazz, and Nuggets are all heavy contenders for the West, while the Bucks, 76ers, and Celtics can easily take over as the favorites in the East. The rest of this season is set to be full of drama and excitement.