1. Oklahoma City
2. San Antonio
3. LA Clippers
6. Golden State
Most Valuable Player
Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Most Improved Player
DeMarcus Cousins, C, Sacramento Kings
Coach of the Year
Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns
Defensive Player of the Year
Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana Pacers
Sixth Man of the Year
Reggie Jackson, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Rookie of the Year
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Five Things to Watch For the Rest of the Year
1. Action at the trade deadline
Despite the recent blowback, this year’s NBA draft is going to be a great one. The trade deadline will be the last time this season where teams can cement their status as a lottery team. Expect the bad teams to have fire sales and the good ones to reap the benefits during a busy trade season.
2. Second Half Turnarounds
Every year there are teams that underperform to start the year but finish strong. Watch out for the Minnesota Timberwolves to be one of those teams this year. Normally a team with plus five point differential would be expected to have a 27-14 record, instead the Wolves are a game under 500. Most stat guys would tell you this means Minnesota has been very unlucky so far this year, expect that luck to even out.
3. Coaches Fired
Underperforming teams need someone to blame and since this is a player’s league it is usually the coaches. Expect Mike Woodson to be the first to go, especially after Tyson Chandler openly questioned his defensive scheme.
4. Pierre the Pelican will no longer haunt your dreams
The Pelicans have decided that they will rework their mascots face in order to make it look less like a homicidal clown/bird from hell. Just wanted to give Pierre a shout out before they make him more family friendly.
5. David Stern Retires
Regardless of your view on David Stern, you have to admit the NBA went through its most prosperous years under his watch. Now Adam Silver is taking over and for the first time in a long time things will change in the league. Expect rumors of changes to playoff format, divisions and the draft all to circulate as soon as Silver fully takes over.