This season is actually shaping up to be a good one. Good young teams showing promise (because of and in spite of the IQ of the organization, i.e. Memphis) and gritty teams making a difference.
I mean the Lakers are still the top, but they have some stiff competition out in the West now with Dirk becoming Mr. Fourth Quarter, and the Nuggets and Melo bumping and grinding out victories. The Big Three in the East have Atlanta to deal with now.
In terms of the middle of the pack, there are more of them now than there were before, as a lot of really bad teams have become respectable this year. I look at the Raps and I still wonder how they stack up against other teams hovering around 500. I mean,
- Memphis is giving good teams lots of trouble. Z-Bo is playing like a mature beastly vet.
- Sacramento has a great young core to build on, and if not for a few close games that they lost could have a much better record.
- Even New York somehow has found ways to win games, I dunno how.
- The Rockets are playing some phenomenal basketball given their obvious depth limitations.
- Charlotte seems to protect their home floor like the Jazz from a couple of years ago, and Wallace is playing out of his mind.
- The Bucks, when Bogut is rolling are a tough team to beat.
- The Bulls are a good team when Rose is playing well, and I feel like they are 1 solid trade away from making a good run.
- OKC has talent up the wazoo.
We are the hot team in the East right now, but can we keep it up RELATIVE to these actually good teams? Will we take the next step and play CONSISTENTLY? Will Bargnani continue to look like the second coming of Antonio Davis on D? Will Bosh keep up his improved court vision? Will Jack be able to maintain his driving and intense defence? Will Calderon keep up his decent play since returning from injury?
I hope so. And we need to give these guys time to see if they can find that. Because if they can, then previous to what I thought 15 games ago, this team actually could challenge a team in the first round.