NBA Talking Points – Nets, All-Stars and The West

This NBA season is the gift that keeps on giving and the number of teams that seem to be turning their season around at the right time makes things very exciting. The Bucks are back to playing like champions, the Raptors have clawed their way back into form, the Jazz, Mavericks and Nuggets are looking solid again. That means there are a load of talking points as the All-Star break draws nearer. This week we will look at three of these talking points to ponder, with our power rankings also included in the piece as well.

Are the Nets in Trouble?

The Brooklyn Nets are a team in free fall at the moment. Ever since Kevin Durant went down with a knee injury against the Pelicans in mid-January the Nets can’t stop losing. They have had James Harden available for most of that time, and because the majority of that schedule was games on the road, Kyrie Irving has also been able to play. Even with those two superstar players, Brooklyn has lost eight games in a row. EIGHT GAMES?! That is an astonishing number of consecutive losses.

The roster is looking thin and overly reliant on Durant to get them wins. This could spell disaster for the Nets as they chase a championship despite the incredibly strong core of Durant, Irving and Harden. But they’ve all been unable to get together on court much. It’s been reported that no team that has had such a lengthy losing streak at any point in the season has ever gone on to win a championship, which means that the Nets need to break records on their way to glory. It’s not impossible, they have all of the scoring talents a team would need when they are all fit and available to play. The question marks over availability are the central concern. With rumblings of Harden possibly being traded to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons another interesting wrinkle gets added to the drama. Who knows what will happen from here?

All-Star Game Snubs take Centre Stage… Again

The interest and excitement around the NBA All-Star Weekend is one of the best things in global sport. Who doesn’t want to watch the best players in any league get together over the course of a weekend for fun and thrills in a star-laden extravaganza? The All-Star Game is the showpiece event after all of the build-up spectacles. The Rising Stars game has been re-jigged and should be fun, the Skills Challenge, Slam Dunk Contest and 3-point Competition are always drawcards. But the All-Star Game is the crown jewel. But, before all of these fun events take place, you have the selection process. This is where the fans get involved, voting for their favourites to make it. It feels like the world’s most fun popularity contest… until your favourite gets overlooked. That is where the ‘other’ All-Star Game kicks in. The Snubs take centre stage. The moaning is loud, the reproachment is excessive, the feelings are hurt. It’s pure drama. This season’s game is no exception.

There are a large number of ‘no-brainer’ calls in the pool of players selected from both the Eastern and the Western Conferences, at least with the starters. There was a raised eye here and there about Andrew Wiggins and his shock selection (many attribute this to K-Pop star BamBam campaigning for him), Trae Young’s inclusion was also scrutinized. But when the All-Star reserves were announced, you could hear the grumbling like rolling thunder. Jarrett Allen was snubbed (he was). What about Anthony Edwards? Where is Anthony Davis? How could they leave out Miles Bridges? It never ends. Every year it happens with different names being used. We’ll still watch the All-Star Game though. It rocks. But the ‘Snub-lympics’ happen like clockwork.

Is It Already A Two-Horse Race In The West?

The Phoenix Suns have been playing at an elite level for so long now that we’ve almost forgotten just how bad things got a few years ago, this just feels normal now. It really isn’t ‘normal’ or ‘average’ something special is happening in Nevada. Coach Monty Williams has worked wonders. Chris Paul has lifted this team out of the doldrums with his unique ability to extract the best out of his teammates. It also helps that his teammates are excellent players. Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Cam Payne have been sensational and even veterans like Bismack Biyombo and JaVale McGee have stepped up. As good as The Suns have been, the Warriors have risen like the proverbial phoenix themselves.

The fortunes have turned very rapidly in Golden State after a period of playing some horrid basketball. The Dubs have the longest current win streak, sitting at nine games, and they don’t look like they’ll be stopping soon. Stephen Curry has been playing well after a dip in production and the Warriors have managed to re-introduce Klay Thompson to the team in a manner that has helped him acclimatize quickly. They are looking like they are back to their title-winning best. There is such a huge gap between the Suns and Warriors in the top two spots and the rest of the conference. This looks like it could be heading to a Western Conference Finals showdown between these two if all works out the way it should. It isn’t normal for this type of scenario to play out before the All-Star break, but here we are. Can these teams be caught up? It’s unlikely, but anything is possible if a perfect storm of woe hits. No one wants that. Put your money on one of these teams making it to the NBA Finals.


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