NBA Midseason Review and End of Season Preview with Martian and 1c3



It's been an exciting start to the NBA season. The good teams have proved to everyone that they were worth the hype, the bad teams have proven that they won't win for a while and the young teams are extremely fun to watch. Teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder have shocked the basketball world and shown that they can be a playoff contender, while perennial playoff teams like the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs have struggled out of the gate.


It's also been fun to see some young players finally hit their stride. Nine out of the 24 All-Stars, including Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Brandon Ingram, and Bam Adebayo, are played in their first midseason classic. The rookie class has shown flashes of greatness, especially from Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and Tyler Herro. And of course, who can forget about the superstars? Giannis has taken over the role as the NBA's best player, LeBron is playing out of his mind for being 35 and James Harden continues to put up masterful scoring performances.


Martian and I (1c3) will be recapping the first half, talking about the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment up to this point. We will also be predicting how the playoffs will shape out, as well as giving our picks for the season awards. It should be a fun one. When we collab it's always a blast for the both of us because we get to talk about what we love. Good old basketball. Let's slide right into it.


2019-2020 NBA Mid Season Recap



Biggest Surprise


1c3: Memphis Grizzlies


The Memphis Grizzlies have been a pleasant surprise this year. Many thought it would be another rebuilding year that would end with them getting a top pick. Don't tell that to Ja Morant or Jaren Jackson Jr. Morant, along with Jackson, Dillon Brooks, and rookie Brandon Clarke has given the Grizzlies a core to look forward to in the future.


Memphis currently holds the final playoff spot in the west, having a record of 28-28. Teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers aren't too far behind, so the Grizzlies have to continue to play well if they want to make the playoffs. Even if Memphis doesn't make the playoffs, I would say it's still a pretty successful year one under new coach Taylor Jenkins.


Martian: Miami Heat


I thought the Heat were going to be good but not this good. Currently sitting at 36-21, good for fourth in the East, the offseason signing of Jimmy Butler has proven to be incredibly beneficial. His never-ending work ethic fits perfectly with the Heat culture established by president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra.


Bam Adebayo, my pre-season pick for Most Improved Player, has shined in his first season as the Heat's main big, posting career-highs across the board en route to his first All-Star selection. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn have been among the league's best rookies while Duncan Robinson has been lighting it up from three. The trade deadline acquisitions of Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder will be crucial come playoffs, as they both provide veteran leadership and postseason experience. Especially Iggy, the dude's got three rings and a Finals MVP.


Miami, while struggling on the road, has been dominant in South Beach, posting a 21-3 home record (third best in the league). If they remain a top-four seed, they'll get to play their first playoff games at home, which will be crucial, and if they can navigate their woes on the road, they'll be a true threat.


Biggest Disappointment


1c3: Sacramento Kings


Hopes were high this year for the Sacramento Kings, as they finished a few games

short of making the playoffs last season. They brought in a new coach in Luke Walton and their young core of Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley and De'Aaron Fox looked ready to lead a playoff charge.


Unfortunately for the Kings, it just hasn't been the case. Fox and Bagley have missed significant time due to injury and the Kings haven't been able to mesh well. They did pick up a nice victory against the Los Angeles Clippers coming out of the All-Star break, so hopefully, that could be the momentum that they need. As of right now though, they top the list of my biggest disappointments.


Martian: Chicago Bulls


Why do I do this to myself every year, being a Bulls fan sucks so bad sometimes. Some had high expectations for the Chicago Bulls coming into this season. The writing was on the wall for a successful season. Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter were all coming into the year healthy and ready to show what they could do while on the floor together. Coby White was drafted seventh overall to provide scoring and playmaking while Daniel Gafford was stolen in the second round. Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young were brought in to provide veteran stability and help ease the transition into a playoff contender. Otto Porter was ready to continue the success he had after being traded to Chicago last season.


The Bulls are 20-39. Markkanen and Carter have missed extended time due to injuries. Chicagoans are once again calling for the firings of head coach Jim Boylen and front office personnel John Paxson and Gar Forman. LaVine missed out on his first All-Star selection despite the game being held in Chicago. It's been an absolute mess. The glimmers of hope have turned into violent night terrors. What's next? Who knows. Probably sadness.



Eastern Conference Final Standings Prediction


1c3


1. Milwaukee Bucks

2. Toronto Raptors

3. Miami Heat

4. Boston Celtics

5. Philadelphia 76ers

6. Indiana Pacers

7. Brooklyn Nets

8. Orlando Magic


Martian


1. Milwaukee Bucks

2. Toronto Raptors

3. Boston Celtics

4. Miami Heat

5. Indiana Pacers

6. Philadelphia 76ers

7. Orlando Magic

8. Brooklyn Nets


Western Conference Final Standings Prediction


1c3


1. Los Angeles Lakers

2. Los Angeles Clippers

3. Houston Rockets

4. Denver Nuggets

5. Utah Jazz

6. Dallas Mavericks

7. Oklahoma City Thunder

8. New Orleans Pelicans


Martian


1. Los Angeles Lakers

2. Denver Nuggets

3. Houston Rockets

4. Los Angeles Clippers

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

6. Utah Jazz

7. Dallas Mavericks

8. New Orleans Pelicans



Season Awards


MVP


1c3: Giannis Antetokounmpo


Early in the season, it looked like a competition between Giannis, James Harden, and Luka Doncic. But, at this point, Giannis has taken the award and ran with it. He's averaging an insane 29.7 PPG, 13.7 RPG, and 5.8 APG. Beyond that, he's leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in basketball and has a pretty good chance of winning 70 games. Giannis joins an elite list of NBA players who've won back-to-back MVPs, including LeBron James, Steph Curry and Tim Duncan.


Martian: Giannis Antetokounmpo


LeBron, I'm sorry. I can't help that I'm a sucker for a historic PER. Last season's MVP wasn't so clear-cut with fans divided between Giannis and James Harden. While Harden is having another insane year and LeBron has returned to the top, Giannis has been the most dominant player since Shaquille O'Neal. He's unstoppable. Giannis is getting his numbers (listed above) in just 30.9 minutes per game. He currently has the highest Player Efficiency Rating of all-time (31.94). The Bucks have a great shot at a 'ship, a lot of it due to their MVP.



Rookie of the Year


1c3: Ja Morant


If Zion Williamson continues to play at this high of a level, he could make the race a little bit tighter. However, I don't think he's played enough games and therefore Ja Morant takes the award. It's not like Morant doesn't deserve it either. He's had a great season, averaging almost 18 points per game along with seven assists. In addition to that, he has the Grizzlies, a team that everyone expected to be near the bottom of the standings, in the hunt for a playoff spot. Kudos to Morant on a stellar rookie campaign. Hopefully, this is the start of a long, successful career.


Martian: Ja Morant


Sorry to have the same pick again. I'm a follower. Zion Williamson will finish the season averaging 20+ points per game, making him the rookie scoring leader. Unfortunately for him, the max amount of games he can play is 37 which will put him at a massive disadvantage. Similar thing happened to Joel Embiid who was the best rookie but only played 31 games due to injury.


Let's focus on Ja, though. Morant is an electrifying guard who has completely rejuvenated the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis currently holds the eighth-seed in the West (28-30), a 2.5 game lead on the Portland Trail Blazers. It seems as if Morant provides at least one highlight per night, whether it's a gorgeous dime or high-flying dunk. Still only 20-years-old, Morant has an incredibly bright future ahead and looks set to become a perennial All-Star.


Defensive Player of the Year


1c3: Anthony Davis


This is a two-horse race between Anthony Davis and Utah's Rudy Gobert. Gobert has won the award the last two seasons. He's a phenomenal defender, but I think Davis will win the award this year. The Los Angeles Lakers we're near the bottom of the league last year in defense. This year, they're seventh in PPG allowed only 1.3 points behind the league-leading Toronto Raptors. He's also averaging almost three steals and two blocks a game while checking the other teams best big. Davis should and I believe will get rewarded for his great defensive play.


Martian: Anthony Davis


Great minds think alike. Rudy Gobert is deserving of his third consecutive DPOY trophy but the Lakers' defensive improvement is too tuff to ignore. Trading the young core to New Orleans for Anthony Davis has proven to be one of the best moves in LA history. The Lakers sit atop the Western Conference with a five-game lead and trot out a defense every night that's among the league's best. AD anchors the D and is collecting nearly three blocks and two steals. The heart of the NBA is back in Hollywood.


Most Improved Player


1c3: Luka Doncic


This was a tough call. There's a ton of guys deserving of the award. Bam Adebayo, Devonte Graham, Brandon Ingram, Trae Young. In the end, I decided to go with Doncic. He's putting up MVP type numbers, nearly 30 points a game, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. Doncic also has Dallas in prime position to make the playoffs. If Giannis didn't exist, he would likely be the MVP this year. This is going to be a close race and there's going to be other guys who get first-place votes, but I think this is Luka's to lose at this point.


Martian: Bam Adebayo


When Miami traded Hassan Whiteside to Portland this summer, the era of Bam was ushered into South Beach. After being selected with the 14th pick of the 2017 draft, it was assumed that Adebayo would eventually become a large part of Miami's future. In his first season as a starter, Adebayo has seen increases in every major statistical category. He's an All-Star and the perfect partner for Jimmy Butler. As his ascent continues, Adebayo will be among the best bigs in the league.


Sixth Man of the Year


1c3: Dennis Schroeder


A big part of the Oklahoma City Thunder success this year has been the play of Dennis Schroeder. On the year, Schroeder is averaging 19 points, four rebounds and four assists per game. He's also a key cog in the Thunder late-game lineups. He provides Oklahoma City with another major scoring threat, as well as someone who can handle the ball. Schroeder should be rewarded for his great play this season.


Martian: Dennis Schroeder


Even though this season has been unpredictable, the awards are fairly easy to pinpoint. Schroeder has fully embraced his role on (one of) the most surprising squads of the year and his stats are the best of any first man off the bench. Jordan Clarkson has been excellent since being traded to Utah but Schroeder putting up starter numbers gives him quite the edge.


Coach of the Year


1c3: Billy Donovan


Another close call here. Nick Nurse is doing a terrific job in his second season, Frank Vogel has the Lakers from no playoffs to second-best record and Mike Budenholzer might help get the Bucks to 70 wins. However, no coach has done a better job this year than Billy Donovan. The Oklahoma City Thunder were an afterthought coming into the season. Many thought they would be sellers at the deadline. They proved all the doubters wrong.


Chris Paul and Danillo Gallinari have led the charge on a fairly young roster, and have Oklahoma City as the fifth seed right now. Donovan has created one of the most feared lineups in basketball, a three-guard pairing of Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroeder. They are statistically the best fourth-quarter team in basketball and could present a big problem for teams come playoff time. Many thought this could be the end for Donovan, but he bought himself at least a few more years for the job he's done.


Martian: Nick Nurse


This was an easy choice. Toronto was a great team last year without Kawhi on the floor but in their first season without him, they're just as dominant with a 42-16 record (second in the East). The defending champions have defied expectations and continue to prove that they can go back-to-back.



All-NBA First Team


1c3


G: James Harden

G: Luka Doncic

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo

F: LeBron James

C: Joel Embiid


Martian


G: James Harden

G: Luka Doncic

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo

F: LeBron James

C: Nikola Jokic


All-NBA Second Team

1c3


G: Damian Lillard

G: Chris Paul

F: Kawhi Leonard

F: Anthony Davis

C: Nikola Jokic


Martian


G: Damian Lillard

G: Trae Young

F: Kawhi Leonard

F: Anthony Davis

C: Joel Embiid




All-NBA Third Team


1c3


G: Trae Young

G: Kemba Walker

F: Jimmy Butler F: Pascal Siakam

C: Rudy Gobert


Martian


G: Chris Paul

G: Kemba Walker

F: Brandon Ingram

F: Pascal Siakam

C: Rudy Gobert




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