An NBA regular season filled with history in the making comes to a close in a few short weeks.  And we’re not just talking about the Golden State Warriors’ quest to break the 72-10 mark of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

For the first time since 2005-06, the West may finish with just three 50+ win teams.  For a conference that has had EIGHT 50-win teams multiple times (2007-08 and 2009-10) and regularly has 5-6 teams hit that mark, that represents a steep decline.

Alternatively, the West also has the distinct possibility of multiple teams with losing records making the playoffs, something that hasn’t occurred since 1996-97, when 3 conference teams accomplished the feat.

The East is on track to have all 8 playoff teams with winning records (better than .500), for the first time since 2011-12’s lockout shortened season.

The scoring leaders (Top 20) all are averaging at least 20.7 points per game.  Last time that occurred was during the 2007-08 season.

Dirk Nowitzki, who still has plenty of game left, reached the 29,000 point mark, becoming the 8th NBA/ABA player to do so.  Six of those were first ballot Hall of Fame inductees, with the other being Kobe Bryant, who undoubtedly will make the grade on the first opportunity.

Tim Duncan joined the 26,000 point and 15,000 rebound club, in what is likely his final NBA season.

Several longtime stars are finishing out their final season in the NBA – Bryant, Duncan, and Garnett.  Also likely to exit are Vince Carter and Manu Ginobili.

Stephen Curry, who is likely to win his 2nd consecutive MVP award, is on pace for the most efficient season by a scoring champion in NBA history – even better than Kevin Durant’s 2013-14 output, which was itself historic in nature:

Curry (2015-16) – 30.0 ppg, 5.4 reb, 6.6 ast, 2.1 stl, with 50/45/90 shooting percentages, in 34 minutes per night

Durant (2013-14) – 32.0 ppg, 7.4 reb, 5.5 ast, 1.3 stl, with 50/39/87 shooting percentages, in 38.5 minutes per night

Another mark of note – San Antonio became the 5th franchise in NBA history to reach 19 consecutive playoff seasons (joining Boston, Utah, Portland, and Philadelphia).

 

Just a few fun notes as the season ends.  The playoffs are coming, and it could be a wild ride…the East 3-6 seeds as they stand today are merely 1.5 games apart, and the West’s 6-9 teams are separated by 2.5 games.  Plenty of anticipation for the last few weeks!  Get ready and enjoy the ride!

 

It’s that time of year.  Costumes, masks, intrigue, going through the motions, plentiful candy and prizes in the distance.

The NBA preseason is upon us.

With the possible exception of the Sixers, every NBA team is out to convince their fans that things are different this time around.

That this will be a better year, maybe THE year. (I’m looking at you, Clippers and Bulls fans).

With this in mind, here are my picks for the best tricksters of the 2015-16 NBA season.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers – The signing of star guard Damian Lillard to a huge contract was meant to distract from the pending losses of the other 4 starters, plus Arron Afflalo.  The new supporting cast is largely unproven.  And the Western Conference is only getting better.  Portland won’t drop to the bottom of the conference, but a 31 win season is likely.
  2. Sacramento Kings – We have a new stadium! (Okay, in a few years).  We have an All-Star point guard! (Okay, he’s past his prime).  At least we have Boogie! (And he’s about a month away from going off on George Karl).  The Kings are still the Kings, despite illusions to the contrary.
  3. Indiana Pacers – The return of Paul George, combined with the losses of David West and Roy Hibbert, brings a lot of questions to Indianapolis.  Playing George at the 4 is almost an admission that he won’t be what he was, and the lack of interior defense will kill the Pacers, even in the weakened Eastern Conference.  Expect 35 wins and a near-miss for the 8 seed, along with a lot of 3 point attempts.
  4. Brooklyn Nets – Subtraction, plain and simple.  The Nets have lost Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams, and have had 4 coaches in 5 seasons.  It’s safe to say nobody knows who the Nets are underneath their ever-changing masks.
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder – With the ultimate free agent to be in Kevin Durant, the Thunder did some nice costuming this off-season, keeping mid-season addition Enes Kanter on a $70 million deal to provide the needed 3rd option to Westbrook and Durant.  The question remains: Is Kanter the happy, dominant scorer who played in OKC last year, or the petulant, pouting failure that forced his way out of Utah in the dead of winter after several seasons?  And the second question – Will Billy Donovan make it mesh?
  6. Los Angeles Lakers – We have Kobe!  He’s healthy again!  (Almost).  We have new players with talent!  (That are hurt or struggling).  We have the next great Lakers center! (Okay, I made that one up, sue me).  The Lakers aren’t nearly good enough to earn the 8 seed, which means they will almost certainly give a treat to the Philadelphia 76ers in June (a Top 10 pick).  A late Halloween treat, but the Sixers are willing to be patient.
  7. To the guy wearing the Dirk Nowitzki costume – Hey, didn’t you used to be a 25 point scorer?
  8. For the guy coaching the Miami Heat – Weren’t you a genius a few years ago?  Stop laughing, Phil.
  9. And for LeBron James – put that MVP costume away, aren’t you a bit old to be trick-or-treating?
  10. That’s it.  Next time we’ll look at the treats of the upcoming season!