NBA REPORT CARDS – THE EASTERN CONFERENCE

NBA REPORT CARDS – THE EASTERN CONFERENCE

Grade: A+

MILWAUKEE (43-14) – Here’s the unabashed stars of the Eastern Conference thus far and it ain’t all just MVP contender Giannis Antetokounmpo (27.1 points a game / 12.6 rebounds per game / 5.9 assists per game)! Sure, the “Greek Freak” is a wonder to behold but note the Bucks rank second in this league in scoring (117.1 ppg) and eighth in defense (107.3 ppg) and there’s three other guys averaging 15 ppg-or-better including always quiet All-Star Khris Middleton (17.1 ppg). First-year head coach Mike Budenholzer chose Milwaukee over New York – smart guy. Spread Record … 34-21-2


Grade: A

INDIANA (38-20) – Go ahead and name us three Pacers’ players … see, you can’t do it! The fact of the matter is Indiana’s been a major overachiever even if the team’s spread record ain’t special. The Pacers rank first in the league in scoring defense while yielding just 102.8 points per game and for the last few weeks this club has thrived even without injured-and-out-for-the-year G Victor Oladipo. Still, there’s six players besides Oladipo that average double-digit scoring and power forward Domatas Sabonis (14.1 ppg/ 9.2 rpg) has been magnificent. Hats off to head coach Nate McMillan! Spread Record … 29-28-1


Grade: B+

BROOKLYN (30-29) – If the season ended today, the Nets would be the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs … surprise, surprise! Okay, so winning 19 of 24 games SU (straight-up) from Dec. 7th thru Jan. 5th was a godsend but consider that head coach Kenny Atkinson was missing G Caris Levert for all that time and sharpshooter Allen Crabbe for most of that time and it’s amazing the Brooklynites were able to thrive. All-Star G D’Angelo Russell (20 ppg) sometimes needs some serious coaching, but he’s been a crunch-time star. Spread Record … 33-26-0


Grade: B

ORLANDO (27-32) – Three cheers for the Magic who may rank a lowly 25th in the league in scoring offense but play hard all the time and have zoomed towards this All-Star break with some real authority, thanks in large part to Nikola Vucevic (team-leading 20.6 ppg). Spread Record … 31-25-3.

TORONTO (43-16) – No doubt about it, the Raptors are a legit threat to make it to their first-ever NBA Finals this June … so why not more “love” coming from our way in terms of this report card grade? Well, Toronto’s been feasting off plenty of bad-to-middling Eastern Conference clubs and new addition Kawhi Leonard (27 ppg) has been a major upgrade over DeMar DeRozan. Fact is the North-of-the-Border crew should be playing .700-type ball. Spread Record … 26-31-2

Grade: C+

PHILADELPHIA (37-21) – Hey, the 76ers sport a star-studded roster and so why isn’t this club right now fighting for a #1 or #2 seed in the East? The Sixers are tangled up with archrival Boston in a #4 vs. #5 seed battle and so that means Philly’s been an underachiever thus far. Folks, there’s five players here averaging 15 ppg or more starting with All-Star C Joel Embiid (27.3 ppg) but the Sixers have not always played top-shelf defense. Spread Record … 28-30-0

Grade: C

DETROIT (26-30) – Okay, so the Pistons are tied with Miami for that eighth and final playoff berth in the East right now but shouldn’t a team with a “big three” of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson (they’ve combined to average nearly 60 points a game among ’em) be better than this? The Motowners have no bench and first-year coach Dwane Casey (last year’s NBA Coach of the Year with Toronto) has not always pushed all the right buttons. Spread Record … 26-29-1

MIAMI (26-30) – There’s been some real chinks in the Heat armor in recent days (see 3-7 SU record in last 10 games) and simply not enough pop in this attack (why doesn’t Justice Winslow score more than 12 points a game, for example?). Spread Record … 28-27-1

CHARLOTTE (27-30) – Don’t know about you, but we expected bigger/better things from “Michael Jordan’s team” that has won just eight road games despite G Kemba Walker (25.2 ppg) sporting an MVP-type season for the Hornets. Right now, this is a playoff team but we don’t really like the vibes coming from C-town. Spread record … 27-29-1

BOSTON (37-21) – You can slice it any which way you want but this 2018-19 campaign has been a major mess for these Celtics who have yet to figure out everyone’s roles while PK Kyrie Irving (team-leading 23.6 ppg) remains an unhappy and oft-injured camper. The Celtics – and you can blame head coach Brad Stevens, if you’d like – have yet to assimilate Gordon Hayward back into the lineup (he’s been coming off the bench lately) and maybe Boston should have pulled the trigger at the recent Trade Deadline and sorted out a few things, eh? Spread Record … 29-28-1

Grade: C-

CLEVELAND (12-46) – The post-LeBron James Era Part II has been as ugly as one might have predicted although no F Kevin Love for most of this season has assured the Cavaliers that this was gonna be real “tankathon”. Spread Record … 25-32-1

Grade: D

ATLANTA (19-39) – No doubt the Hawks are one of many teams “tanking” this here-and-now hoops season, so maybe we should say Atlanta’s having a “successful” season but truth is this is the league’s worst defensive team (allowing 118.4 ppg) and rookie Trae Young – a 31 percent shooter from downtown – has been a major disappointment from deep. Spread Record … 25-33-0

WASHINGTON (24-34) – Whatta mess! The Wizards are without PG John Wall for another 11 or 12 months (and we’re not sure the guy’s ever gonna play another game for this franchise) and there’s no defensive presence on a team that ranks next-to-last in the league in scoring “D”. Spread Record … 24-32-2

CHICAGO (14-44) – There’s been no denying the fact that the Bulls have been “tanking” this hoops season although gotta say young stars Zach LaVine (23.1 ppg) and Lauri Markanen (18.4 ppg) have been messing with the Chitowners’ plan. Both of these guys can fill it up but somehow the Bulls still rank only 28th in the league in scoring. Spread Record … 25-31-2

Grade: F

NEW YORK (11-47) – Gotcha, the Knicks have been tanking this season from the get-go but truth is everything’s been blowing up all around “The Garden” but we will say good riddance to Kristaps Porzingis. Spread Record … 25-31-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NBA REPORT CARDS – THE WESTERN CONFERENCE

Grade: A+

OKLAHOMA CITY (37-20) – Save for the Thunder’s pre-All-Star Game clunker loss to N’Orleans, this has been a storybook season for OKC and it’s not just triple-double maven G Russell Westbrook (21.7 ppg / 11.2 rpg / 11.2 apg) as Paul George (28.7 ppg) deserves some MVP talk too. Spread Record … 33-24-0

Grade: A

DENVER (39-18) – Imagine we’re at the All-Star Game break and the Nuggets are just two full games back of three-time champ Golden State … super stuff for a team that’s 25-4 SU (straightup) at home. The one-two punch of C Nikola Jokic (20.4 ppg) and G Jamal Murray (18.3 ppg) doesn’t get enough national media love. Spread Record … 30-27

Grade: A-

SACRAMENTO (30-27) – All the Kings’ men have really been building up a solid foundation for the future with G Buddy Hield (team-best 20.5 ppg) pacing the league’s ninth-best offense and gotta love the aggressive nature/play of kids De’Aaron Fox (17.2 ppg) and Marvin Bagley III. Arrow pointing up for this long-lost franchise. Spread Record … 34-23-0

Grade: B+

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (32-27) – The Clips are on the inside-looking-out when it comes to a post-season and that’s why Doc Rivers is, year in and year out, one of the sport’s top three or four head coaches in this league. Spread Record … 32-27-0

DALLAS (26-31) – The Luka Doncic Era has been refreshing for a franchise that has been floundering for years. The new kid on the block is averaging 20.7 ppg and he really hasn’t gotten that much offensive help. Spread Record … 35-22-0

Grade: B

GOLDEN STATE (41-16) – The back-to-back champs sometimes look a tad bored and, let’s face it, the Warriors have been drilled a few times this year but overall the record’s about what you’d have thought and remember this is still the league’s highest-scoring squad (118.8 ppg) with G Stephen Curry (28.6) and F Kevin Durant (27.6) both very much in the MVP talk even if the world’s handing it to Houston’s James Harden.

HOUSTON (33-24) – Keep in mind the Rockets started off this here-and-now season at 1-5 and so the above-mentioned Harden (NBA-leading 36.6 ppg) has been digging out of that hole for months now and Houston entered the All-Star Game break sitting just one game back of Portland for the #4 seed. Spread Record … 26-30-1

UTAH (32-25) – The Jazz do it with “D” as they rank fourth in the league in scoring defense. Thanks in large part to C Rudy Gobert (122 blocked shots). Second-year star G Donovan Mitchell (22.4) is a legit star but we’d like to see ’em be more accurate from “3”. Spread Record … 29-26-2

PORTLAND (34-23) – The Trail Blazers have that dynamic duo in the backcourt with Damian Lillard (26.3 ppg) and CJ McCollum (21 ppg) and so playing near-.600 ball SU is no big surprise but we like the improved bench play. Spread Record … 31-26-0

Grade: B-

SAN ANTONIO (33-26) – There’s something missing with this Spurs’ squad that sports a pair of 20-plus ppg guys in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge and yet is just one game up in the loss column from being out of the Western Conference playoffs. Spread Record … 31-27-1

Grade: C

LOS ANGELES LAKERS (28-29) – All those games where LeBron James missed with injuries could be what keeps the Lakers out of the Western Conference playoffs this year … or maybe it’ll be the games the Lakers “quit” after James tried to have five or six teammates traded to New Orleans. Ugh! Spread Record … 24-31-2

MEMPHIS (23-36) – Not gonna kill the Grizzlies for this otherwise rotten campaign what with Marc Gasol dealt to Toronto at the deadline and PG Mike Conley blitzed with trade rumors before staying put. Still, worst offense in the league at 100.6 ppg. Spread Record … 26-32-1

Grade: C-

NEW ORLEANS (26-33) – The whole Anthony Davis Saga has ruined this Pelicans’ campaign and now here’s the franchise’s soon-to-be-gone star has a bum shoulder. Spread Record … 28-30-1

Grade: D

MINNESOTA (27-30) – Can we admit to y’all that we’ve finally given up trying to figure out these Timberwolves who currently reside at the bottom of the Northwest standings. Minny sports more 25-and-younger stars and still can’t ever get things revved up. Spread Record … 29-28-0

PHOENIX (11-48) – This “tankathon” season has not been a surprise but just one divisional win? Spread Record … 25-34-0