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NBA Regular Season Review

Sam Walkup, Staff Writer

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The 2016-2017 NBA regular season was nothing but unpredictable. We saw the dominance of certain players, a big name trade, and the rise of teams making the NBA much more competitive and exciting across the league.

Point guards have been the key factor for any successful NBA team in the past few years. What was once in a league controlled by big men is now flipped. Both Russell Westbrook and Isaiah Thomas are the floor general and leaders of their teams, Oklahoma City and Boston, and have led their teams to overachieve expectations. Thomas has led the Celtics to a 53-29 record, while averaging 29 points and 6 assist per game. This record is good enough for the number one overall seed in the East. The “4th Quarter King” stands at a mere 5’9, but this has not stopped him from being one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league.

On the other hand, Westbrook has had the most statistically successful season in NBA history. Averaging a triple double (32 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 10.7 assist per game) put Russell in a category that only one other NBA player has ever accomplished. He also broke Oscar Robertson’s record of 41 triple doubles in a season with 42. These accomplishments only seemed fitting after star forward, Kevin Durant, left the Thunder in order to join the Warriors. Although only earning the 6th seed in the West, Westbrook’s team exceeded their pre-season expectations.

Although there were trades that saw talented players such as Nerlens Noel, Lou Williams, Mason Plumlee, and Serge Ibaka sent to different teams, there was no trade bigger than what happened between the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans. The Kings sent all-star center DeMarcus Cousins and Omar Casspi to the Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and two 2017 draft picks. Cousins teamed up with Anthony Davis, 2017 all-star game MVP, in hopes of a playoff spot. Even though the Pelicans did not reach that goal this year, they have two stars to build around for the future.

Unusual compared to past years, the East region features three teams that compose legit threats to the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. These three teams being the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Washington Wizards. What was once seen as an easy road for the defending Finals champions just got a whole lot tougher. The Wizards completely flipped an underperforming year before, out of the playoffs, to becoming a dangerous four seed. Led by one of the best backcourts in the league, John Wall and Bradley Bell, the Wizards will be a tough out against any team. The Raptors’ continual good play and new additions have granted them the three seed. The mid-season accusations of stretch forward, Serge Ibaka, and veteran, P.J Tucker, have given stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry additional help to make another deep run. As stated earlier, The Celtics hold the one seed in the East, which is for the first time in nine years. Star Isaiah Thomas has enough complimentary pieces around him, such as Al Horford, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder to lead his team pasted the Cavaliers and into the Finals.

On the other side, the Western conference featured just one team that exceeded preseason expectations: the Utah Jazz. After finishing below .500 and out of the playoffs last year, the Jazz came into the year just hoping they would make the playoffs. But with the best statistical defense in the league, 96.8 ppg, and rising star Gordon Hayward, the Jazz secured the five seed in the West. Facing off against the Clippers in the first round, the Jazz have a good chance of advancing to play the Warriors, where they will give the one seed some trouble.

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NBA Regular Season Review