The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The NBA Landscape


Photo courtesy of Global Panorama via

As the NBA season is nearing its midpoint, let’s take a look at the teams and players that are impacting the NBA landscape and making the NBA more exciting to watch as the season goes on:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Coming off the epic finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors, the Cavaliers have gotten off to a great start. The chemistry with this team is amazing, and it can only get better from here. LeBron James, free from criticism, is loving this season as the pressure of winning in Cleveland has finally been lifted off his shoulders. Kyrie Irving is right there beside him. Capping off an NBA title with an Olympic gold medal this past summer, Irving is making his case as the most clutch player in the league right now, hitting a game-winner against the Warriors on Christmas Day— similar to Game 7 of the 2016 finals. The Cavaliers are still the team to beat.
  2. Golden State Warriors: Adding Kevin Durant to any team will make it better. With the best record in the NBA right now, the Warriors are still the team to look out for in the Western Conference, despite losing some of their bench players. The chemistry isn’t quite there yet, (personally I liked watching the 2015 Warriors compared to this squad because of their “Strength in Numbers”), but there’s a long time between now and the playoffs for the Warriors to make the right adjustments.
  3. San Antonio Spurs: Their style of play is not for everyone. The passing and fundamentals aren’t what most people tune in to watch. However even with the great Tim Duncan retiring, the Spurs are flying under the radar yet again, and could end up toppling the Warriors and regaining the Western Conference. Kawhi Leonard is the best two-way player in the league, and is taking the reigns of this new Spurs team alongside LeMarcus Aldridge.
  4. Los Angeles Clippers: It’s safe to say that everyone is surprised the Clippers haven’t reached the Western Conference finals yet, let alone getting past the second round of the playoffs. They have what it takes to win— the all-star Point Guard Chris Paul, the head coach Doc Rivers (who has won a championship in 2008 as coach for the Boston Celtics), two flying All-Stars in Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan, a veteran presence in Paul Pierce among others, 3x Sixth Man of the Year in Jamal Crawford, and a decent bench However, injuries have affected this team every single year. With Paul suffering from hamstring pain and Griffin already being sidelined for a couple weeks, this is probably the last year for this core to make a run for the trophy. This is their defining season.
  5. James Harden: Inserting Harden as the official point guard for the Houston Rockets was a smart move. Passing the great Hakeem Olajuwon in career triple-doubles, Harden is averaging a double-double with 28.6 points and 11.8 assists ( He is playing the best basketball of his career, and his improvement soared because he’s able to pass and score at will. I pick this team as a dark horse to compete for the Western Conference and go farther than some may think.
  6. Russell Westbrook: Westbrook is the Most Valuable Player of this season. Need I say more? If you aren’t tuned in to the NBA, let alone the Oklahoma City Thunder, you need to as soon as possible because Westbrook is doing the impossible. Ever since the dramatic exit of Kevin Durant to the Warriors, many pundits anticipated that this team would fall and crash, similar to the Heat team after LeBron left to rejoin the Cavs. But the improbable happened: Westbrook is exceeding expectations and is currently averaging a triple-double (31.0 points per game, 10.5 rebounds per game, and 10.7 rebounds per game) (, something that hasn’t been done since Oscar Robertson in the 1961-62 season. And he’s doing it in an unselfish manner. Involving players such as Enes Kanter and Steven Adams alongside a three point arsenal in Domantas Sabonis and an explosive Victor Oladipo, Westbrook makes sure everyone is involved by displaying his versatility in scoring, passing, shooting, and rebounding.
  7. Atlanta Hawks: Dwight Howard went from being one of the most loved players in the NBA during his Orlando Magic days, to becoming one of the most hated players during his Lakers and Rockets stint. However, his trade to his hometown in Atlanta (similar to LeBron James) was a great move. While the record doesn’t show it, this team has gotten very good with this new addition, and I am excited to see how this team performs in the playoffs.
  8. Memphis Grizzles: Some thought the Grizzles’ season would be over after Mike Conley’s back injury. However, Marc Gasol has stepped up in ways that no one really anticipated. As the 5th seed in the Western Conference, the Grizzles are in the right place to contend in the playoffs.
  9. Dallas Mavericks: Dirk’s achille’s injury kept him out for most of the season. This has hampered the Mavericks, who now hace a 9-21 record. However with Dirk back, I expect this team to make a push for the playoffs because of the addition of former Warriors players Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut.
  10. New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis does not get the credit he deserves. His style of play reminds me of Kevin Garnett, a big man player who could score away from the basket, score in the paint, and stretch the floor. Not many players can do that. I believe a few more key additions surrounding him will push this team to new limits and playoff contention.
  11. Minnesota Timberwolves: The trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach Lavine is reminiscent of the core squad that consisted between James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant on the OKC Thunder from 2009-2012. Towns’ versatility, Wiggins mid-range, and Lavine’s explosiveness should make this team be up there alongside the likes of the Rockets or Clippers. However, we are quick to rush the process of seeing teams with a young core succeed quickly. Give these young players a couple of years to mesh together, and they may be competing for a title in the near future.
  12. Los Angeles Lakers: Similar to the Timberwolves, people are quick to rush the process of the Lakers. In this post-Kobe world, players like rookie Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle are tasked to suddenly have chemistry and compete for a title. Give these players a few years, and that will be true.. It will take time to bounce back from Bryant’s departure.
  13. Chicago Bulls: In a surprising move this past offseason, Dwayne Wade left the Miami Heat to join his hometown team in Chicago. Personally, I am happy he made this decision. He was never the highest-paid player on his team at any point of his career with the Heat because he took payouts for Shaq, LeBron/Chris Bosh, and Hassan Whiteside. He had the highest stats in every category as a Heat player, and he deserved to get paid. He gave the organization three championships and he didn’t get paid his due respect. That isn’t right. With that being said, this new Bulls team is actually impressive. Although not as athletic as most teams, the addition of point guard Rajon Rondo (who won a championship in 2008) and Wade has eased the transition of Derrick Rose, who has been traded to the New York Knicks.
  14. Philadelphia 76ers: Trust the Process. That’s the motto for the rookie Joel Embiid, who is making a strong case to becoming Rookie of the Year. While his team is currently 7-22, Embiid is fresh off an injury that kept him from playing for a long time. A main conflict on the team is surrounding their numerous centers. Nerlens Noel says that he’s “too good to be playing eight minutes,” ( signaling that conflict may be brewing in Philly. Unfortunately, 2016 number 1 pick Ben Simmons is injured, but once he comes back, this team will make great strides in the future
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Greyhound Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
The NBA Landscape