Many NBA teams have already secured their playoff spots. Of course, there is some uncertainty over just when the NBA playoffs will take place due to coronavirus suspension.
But that also gives us time to pause and reflect on an intriguing season gone by.
This year, basketball fans saw the Bucks dominating in the East, the Lakers mounting an impressive comeback in the West and last year’s runners-up the Golden State Warriors suffer in the absence of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. As for the NBA champion Raptors, the regular season has more or less been identical to that of last year. In terms of player performances, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Luka Dončić and Ja Morant have been influential for each of their teams.
One team to beat them all
For many years, the state of Wisconsin was popular for its cheeses and for the Green Bay Packers. Ever since Giannis Antetokounmpo appeared in the NBA, the focus of sports fans shifted towards Milwaukee and its basketball franchise, the Bucks. In less than five years, the “Greek Freak” has gone from being the skinny tall wonderkid at the end of the bench to being the most valuable player in the NBA. His performances have helped the Bucks grow, making them the strongest team in the Eastern Conference.
The King gives Lakers fans reason to dream
After a fruitless decade, the Lakers seem to once again be strong enough to fight for their 17th NBA title and numerous betting fans are hoping to see them succeed. Looking at the basketball betting odds released by major bookmakers, one can see that the Lakers are considered to be the second favourites at 14/5 behind the Milwaukee Bucks (23/10, odds from 888sport) for the NBA Championship.
If luck is on their side, then those who back the Lakers before the beginning of the playoffs will quadruple their money. For this to happen of course, LeBron James will have to maintain his current form and to get enough recovery time before the battle intensifies.
Outstanding individual performances of the year
Although basketball is a team sport, it is the individual player performances that increase the championship’s market value and popularity.
In the absence of many Golden State Warriors frontliners and with many seasoned superstars performing worse than expected, the spotlight naturally fell on Giannis, on LeBron James and of course on rookies such as Ja Morant, who represents the league’s next generation of superstars. The 20-year-old from South Carolina is favoured to win the “Rookie of the Year” award. The second favourite for the award is Zion Williamson, whose regular season statistics can only be categorised as outstanding.
In terms of the Regular Season MVP award, it seems like Giannis Antetokounmpo will be claiming it for a second year in a row. The 25-year-old all-around forward may not be the league’s leading scorer or rebounder, but he tops the overall performance ranking in every single game.
A player who seems to be following the development steps once taken by Giannis is the Slovenian Luka Dončić. The Dallas Mavericks youngster is impressing everyone with his perception of the game and with his consecutive positive performances. Many believe that it will not be long before Dončić claims his own MVP award.
Biggest disappointments of the season
The list of teams and players underperforming this season is pretty long. Teams which in recent years appeared in the Finals such as the Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs are now struggling. Players who once impersonated the “refuse-to-lose” attitude are now finding it hard to lead their teams to victory. This season’s underachievers are probably already looking forward to the end of the season and towards the opportunity of a new beginning.