A look back on the first half of the NBA season

NBA.com

Adrian Holguin, Sports Editor

NBA 2019-20 Season 1st half description:


Overview:

Every year around this time when we hit the NBA all-star break, it is always interesting to look at the season and what you think that the rest of the season is going to bring. The 2019-20 NBA season has been extremely revitalizing for all of your average sports fans (unless you’re from Golden State) due to the sudden decline of the Stephen Curry-led Warriors and also the added league wide parity that this has brought to this great league. It seems to be a two-man race for the always-prestigious MVP award between Milwaukee Bucks Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and former MVP, Lakers wing LeBron James. In my humble opinion, there are two Western Conference teams that not only match up extremely well against each other but could also bring with them the first all-LA Western Conference Finals. These two teams would of course be the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. In the remainder of this article I will be giving you an extended look at the storylines taking place in the National Basketball Association.

Added Parity:

The NBA is going through another seemingly annual shift in power and the emergence of yet another new crop. Say so long to the days of basketball fans religiously debating topics regarding the likes of Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, Kevin Garnett, Paul Peirce, and lastly, Kobe Bryant. Instead, we are seeing a new crop of stars emerge, led by Zion Williamson, Luka Doncic, Ja Morant, and Nikola Jokic. This level of young talent being spread out across the country is what ends up giving not only new life to the league, but also a balance of power that the league has not seen seemingly since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach back in 2010. The Eastern Conference is also seemingly going through a new arrival of contenders after LeBron went out west, with the Milwaukee Bucks leading the conference at the mid-way point while also sporting the best record in the league at 46-8. Just another piece of evidence of the added feeling and sense of parity is that the experienced Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers, and a young Miami Heat team led by Jimmy Butler, are right on the coattails of the Bucks, as well as looking like they can be real championship contenders.

Despite this new-found parity, it would not be a professional sports league without one or two highly experienced and talented teams that seem to be playing at a higher level than their competition. The crop of teams that fit under this category are, without question, two powerhouses of LA, the Los Angeles Clippers, headed by the duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and the Los Angeles Lakers, headed by their own duo of LeBron James and one of the greatest big men of this generation, Anthony Davis. What sets these two teams apart is the sheer amount of depth that they have. They have not only the best depth in the entire NBA, but they also have veteran players that know how to lead their teams to the Promised Land. For the Lakers, this leader would unsurprisingly be NBA Legend LeBron James. LeBron has led both the Cavaliers and the Miami Heat to three combined championships and, prior to this last season, King James was able to lead his teams to eight consecutive NBA finals appearances coming out of the East with those two clubs. For the Clippers, this particular player would have to be small forward Kawhi Leonard, who has been dominating the National Basketball Association for the past five seasons. He was able to bring Canada its first ever NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors, which is something that was not only impressive, but it was also remarkable considering the young and inexperienced cast of players that he had around him over the course of this past season. These two teams also have amazing depth behind their exceptional starting lineups with the Clippers bench unit being led by former sixth-man of the year Lou Williams and the Lakers bench unit being led by NBA veteran Rajon Rondo.

MVP Race:

The race for the highly coveted Most Valuable Player award is once again led by some familiar faces, LeBron and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis is in the running for his first MVP award of his career at the young age of 25. The “Greek Freak” is having, once again, an incredible season while carrying his Milwaukee Bucks to not only the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but also the best overall record in basketball at 46-8 as they head into the final stretch of their season. Meanwhile, LeBron James is having possibly the best all-around season of his career at the age of 35, while averaging a stat line of 25 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 10.8 assists per game. The controversial move of LeBron moving to point guard this season has proven to be a huge success, as he is averaging his highest assist total of his career, while leading his Lakers to a 41-12 record coming out of the loaded west.

While each of these players have monumental cases for winning the MVP, I do think that come the end of the season the “Greek Freak” will be the one holding up the trophy. My reason for this is that other than Khris Middleton, the Milwaukee the Bucks have failed to put any stars around Giannis. Instead, they have impressively put a team around him that fits his play style perfectly. Meanwhile, LeBron has practically the best roster in the NBA around him, thus their incredible record.

Rest of Season Prediction:

I believe that the Clippers and Lakers will continue to separate themselves as two of the best teams in the league. While the Clippers will not overtake the LeBron-led Lakers, they will continue to push them to their limit while winning their regular season series 4-2 come the end of the season. These two teams will ride each of their all-time greats all the way to a historic Western Conference matchup in the basketball mecca of Los Angeles. The Western Conference finals will be an all-time match between Kawhi Leonard (The Claw) and King James. While it will be a highly contested series throughout, the Lakers will come out on top in seven games, thus taking them to their 32nd NBA Finals.

Meanwhile, in the East, the Bucks will continue to ride behind soon to be league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to the best record in the league. This will, of course, result in them finishing with the top seed in the East and thus cruising to the Eastern Conference finals, where they will meet the Kemba Walker led Boston Celtics. Giannis will have an incredible series because the Celtics will not have any credible big men to defend him, thus resulting in the series ending at 4-2 in favor of the Bucks.

The 2020 NBA Finals will be between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Lakers will end up defeating Giannis and the Bucks in six games in front of the home crowd in LA. After having beaten two of the top teams in the league on one of the biggest stages in sports, LeBron will successfully be able to honor the legend of Kobe Bryant — not only for the Lakers, but for the whole city of Los Angeles.