Russell Westbrook is NBA All-Star MVP because he scored 41 points, but he didn’t break the NBA All-star record for points scored. Wilt Chamberlain scored 42 points in the 1962 All-Star game. Nobody is taking the Atlanta Hawks for real. The Hawks are shooting the lights out of the gym and they are doing it with no real budding NBA superstar, thanks to former Spurs assistant and current Atlanta coach, Mike Budenholzer. The Knicks bought out Amare Stoudemire’s contract. They will not bring him back and it seems that the Dallas Mavericks may want to sign Stoudemire after acquiring Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics. The Mavericks will indeed be a fun team to watch this year coming the playoffs.
The Eastern Conference reserve stars consists of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, Paul Millsap, and Jeff Teague. This is Butler’s first time being here and also Teague’s. Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson, Chris Paul, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, and LaMarcus Aldridge headline the Western Conference reserves. This is Klay Thompson’s and DeMarcus Cousin’s first All-Star game. I expect this all-star game to be full of dunks and thrills.
Steve Kerr’s Warriors are rotating on defense, contesting open shots, and playing man-to-man suffocating defense that is made to make anyone look tight trying to play basketball. They do trap in the half court set, but they don’t seal off the baseline as fast as the San Antonio Spurs do it for their coach, Gregg Popovich. Led by big men Mareese Speights, David Lee, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, and Festus Ezeli, and foreign Ognjen Kuzmic, the Warriors have a supply of rebounders and defenders. Kerr has his Warriors buying into his defensive system and they are on a roll since the start of the NBA season.
The Phoenix Suns, Jeff Hornacek’s ball club, are in the final and 8th playoff spot. Led by Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, they look to run and gun throughout the West and make some noise against the upper tier of the Western Conference. They might scare some playoff contenders, but they will make noise as they head up the ladder of the West. I like the Suns’ chances of upsetting a playoff contender, but don’t expect them with the likes of the Morris brothers, run away with a few NBA playoff games and a run to the second round. Jeff Hornacek will get them to match the intensity of the other 29 teams come playoff time. Did I mention Zoran Dragic can really ball with the premier shooting guards of the NBA? Expect backup point guard Isaiah Thomas to do some damage with the basketball, competing against other point guards.
The Golden State Warriors, led by coach Steve Kerr, have the best record in the NBA. Kerr has the Warriors buying and adjusting to the coaching system in his first season. Now, there is no need for having David Lee starting because Draymond Green is doing his best, if not better job than David Lee at playing basketball. Stephen Curry is still the NBA’s best perimeter shooter and Klay Thompson is also a lights-out shooter. If I were playing against the Warriors, I wouldn’t give Curry or Thompson the green light to shoot from three-land or from anywhere on the court. Golden State has two backup guards in Leandro Barbosa and Shaun Livingston who can create shots as well as Andre Iguodala who can manage to play some point for them. You can expect Andrew Bogut to play his all. He is ably-bodied for the assignment to play basketball. The Warriors are playing the basketball and stopping the ball from going into the basket. That’s how they are succeeding as a team.
Jameer Nelson has been traded from Dallas to Boston where he will play for a rebuilding team there. Josh Smith’s arrival in Houston suggests that he will have a role there alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard. Smith will help the Rockets with rebounding and defense, although Houston will grow to expect him to hoist three pointers every now and then.
The Boston Celtics are finally rebuilding without Rajon Rondo now, that he is traded to Dallas and play for Mark Cuban’s ball club. The Mavericks have Jameer Nelson and Rajon Rondo, now recently acquired there, to do some damage for the team as the PGs bring out the best in the Mavericks team. Houston acquired Corey Brewer from the Minnesota Timberwolves and they will do their best to run havoc with James Harden and Dwight Howard. Brewer is a perimeter shooter and he will do his best to help the Rockets run up and down the court.