The 2017 National Basketball Association (NBA) has officially reached its halfway point with most teams having played their 41st game this past week. It has been an exciting first half and it’s time to take a look at the biggest delights and disappointments so far.
Utah Jazz—The Jazz have made huge strides this year and currently sit tied with the Clippers for fourth place in the Western Conference. Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert are having career best years for a stingy Jazz defense. George Hill has provided a steady presence at point guard filling a role that has been a much needed the past few seasons.
James Harden, Point Guard—Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni might have looked like he was trying to rebuild the glory days of the “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns when he installed James Harden, who has always played shooting guard, as his point guard, but it has been a revelation for the Rockets. Harden is leading the league in assists and leading his team as the Rockets look like legitimate title contenders.
Joel Embiid, Superstar—After sitting out his first two seasons in the NBA due to foot surgeries, Embiid is bringing basketball back to Philadelphia. The center has been carrying the team as the 76ers are winning games, which have come at a premium the past few seasons. He is averaging 20 points, nine rebounds, and two and a half blocks per game, in just 29 minutes due to a limits restriction.
Minnesota Timberwolves—Many picked the Timberwolves as sleeper contenders for the 8th seed in the Western Conference, but their youth is showing, even with new head coach Tom Thibodeau. They have some stars in the making to build around with Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach Lavine, but lack depth and still don’t look like they know how to play defense. Some of this will come with maturity and roster continuity, but they need more pieces to fill out
Los Angeles Lakers—After a 10-10 start the Lakers have slumped to a 6-22 record. Julius Randle has been playing well, but Brandon Ingram’s strength has been an issue and D’Angelo Russell has struggled to stay on the court. Off season acquisitions Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng have failed to make an impact and the defense is one of the worst in the league. On top of it all, they don’t keep their first round pick unless it falls in the top three, which would be a huge miss in what will likely be a loaded draft.
The editor may be reached at