You may not have noticed it, but the NBA season is about half over. It is still a bit early to get focused on the NBA; the really interesting stuff starts to happen after the NBA All-Star Game and the league gets down to business about the fourth week in March. Nonetheless, here are 9 teams who have been surprises in the first half of this season.
- Brooklyn Nets (9-35): Most folks thought the Nets would be bad but not this bad. They are on pace to win only 16.8 games this year. Ugly indeed …
- Chicago Bulls (22-23): They are in 8th place in the Eastern Conference for now but they are underachieving what most folks thought they would be doing in the first half of this season. The Bulls are a poor shooting team – except for Jimmy Butler – and good defense will only get you so far in today’s NBA.
- Dallas Mavericks (15-29): The horrible surprise for the Mavs was starting off the season losing 13 of their first 15 games.
- Houston Rockets (34-14): I do not know anyone who thought the Rockets would be on pace to win 58 games in late January. Other than merely paying lip-service to playing defense, James Harden is doing everything else in the world for this team – and doing all of that very well.
- LA Lakers (16-32): The surprise here is that the Lakers began the season very hot and people were suggesting a possible appearance in the playoffs this year. Then reality struck and the Lakers are doing now what most folks thought they would do from the season’s opening tip-off.
- Miami Heat (15-30): When Dwayne Wade left in free agency, it was clear that the Heat would have a down year. I did not think they would be a team to win fewer than 30 games this year – but they are on pace to do just that.
- Milwaukee Bucks (21-23): Here is a positive surprise team and I think you can point to the emergence of Jabari Parker and Gianis Antetokounmpo – or his more easily spelled persona, The Greek Freak.
- NY Knicks (20-26): Things were looking up for the Knicks in November and then it all started to fall apart. Now there is infighting amongst the team and the GM; they refuse to play any defense; most of their outside shooting is awful and the thing they do best is to lose games.
- Philly 76ers (15-27): Trust the process… A healthy Joel Embiid and the arrival of Dario Saric has made this team significantly better than it has been for the last 5 years and they have yet to get any contribution from Ben Simmons – their top pick in the draft last year.
I am not any sort of expert when it comes to putting out a sports section in a daily newspaper. Nonetheless, I think I can spot an article that is – at its core – a space filler on a slow news day. In radio and TV, they say there is nothing worse than “dead air” and I suspect that in the newspaper industry, there is nothing worse than blank newsprint on the page. That brings me to an article that appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal about a week ago, which offered readers 5 “tips” to help them keep their New Year’s Fitness Resolutions. Of course, the best way would be not to make such resolutions in the first place but let us ignore the obvious solution to this “problem”. I am going to list the 5 “tips” offered in this article and make a brief comment about each of the “tips”:
- Set more manageable goals. Setting easily manageable fitness goals probably contributed significantly to the fact that you thought it necessary to make a bunch of New Year’s fitness resolutions a couple of weeks ago.
- Do something fun: Generally that will mean doing something that has little to do with whatever your fitness resolutions had to do with. Here are some things that are fun – playing poker, eating some pizza and downing it with a brewski, finishing the New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle. None of that will get you fit…
- Be consistent. Like #1 above, this is likely one of the behavior characteristics that got you to the point that you felt it necessary to make fitness resolutions. People who consistently eat more than they need and do not work out tend to be in poor shape. Ever notice that?
- Have someone keep you accountable. Thank hard about this one because this is going to be someone that you ditch as a friend. If you need help keeping your Fitness Resolutions, the last thing you need to add to the mix here is a friend who is acting like a self-righteous harpy all the time.
- Incentivize it. Oh good; I can have those Boston Cream donuts now that I did my time on the treadmill… That’ll help.
Let me veer even further off the path of sports today to acknowledge the end of a 146-year run by Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. My wife and I and several neighbors go to see the show each Spring when its itinerary brings it to the DC suburbs and we all have a wonderful time every year that we go. After this year, my wife, my neighbors and I will all have to settle for the clowns in the Congress and in the Administration to provide us with the pratfalls and goof-ups that give us amusement. There are indeed plenty of clowns in this town – – even when the circus is elsewhere.
Finally, with Sean McVay hired as the Rams’ coach at age 30, is it possible that Bill Belichick has a hoodie that is older than Sean McVay? Enquiring minds want to know…
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………