With the NBA season quickly progressing, take a look at some of the top teams in the East & West, including information on potential playoff leaders, MVP candidates, and proposed rule changes for the off-season.
As the NBA reaches its midpoint, it’s time to take a step back and analyze the 2019-20 season thus far. One thing is certain – the Milwaukee Bucks are on fire. The Los Angeles Lakers are not far behind and several other teams continue to battle for playoff seeding. Here’s how this season is taking shape.
Best of the East & West
The aforementioned Bucks are virtually unstoppable. Milwaukee has had an 18-game winning streak and before a Monday game with the Chicago Bulls has won 11 of its last 12. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the favorite to repeat as the league MVP and his supporting cast – Khris Middleton (19.4 ppg) and Eric Bledsoe (15.1 ppg) – is strong.
The biggest surprise in the East might be Miami (29-12) which is currently second in the playoff standings. The Heat have lost just once at home and feature a lineup with seven double-figures scorers. Defending NBA champion Toronto is third and Boston is fourth.
In the West, the Lakers (34-8) are riding the backs of LeBron James and Anthony Davis in an attempt to make the postseason for the first time since the 2012-13 season. The Lakers lead second-place Denver and crosstown rival the Clippers by 4.5 games. Utah sits in fourth. Portland is the biggest surprise in the West. The squad currently sits at 18-26 and three games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
What About the Playoffs?
Speaking of the playoffs, it is highly likely the Bucks and Lakers earn the top seeds in the East and West, respectively. The interesting thing about the postseason – as it is in most years – is the final few playoff spots.
In the East, for example, just 4.5 games separate seventh place (Orlando) from 10th place Chicago. The same is true in the West where five games separate eighth-place Memphis from 14th place Sacramento. With half a season to play, anything is possible.
The MVP race? It’s pretty simple. It’s a two-man race. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is the favorite and second-year phenom Luka Doncic of Dallas is hot on his tail. Sure, you can throw James Harden and his 37 points a game in the mix and maybe add an Anthony Davis or even LeBron James, but this year’s MVP race is between Antetokounmpo and Doncic.
Antetokounmpo averages 30.0 points and 12.8 rebounds per game. He leads the Bucks, who have the best record in the league. Doncic trails Antetokounmpo in the scoring race – Doncic is third in the league – averaging 28.9 points per game. The 6-foot-8-inch Maverick is also third in the league in assists (9.0 APG) and averages 9.7 rebounds per game.