NBA All-Star Weekend is officially upon us.
That made us look back at this 2016-17 season thus far and grade teams on where they're currently at.
Squads like the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers are essentially right where they need to be, while the Toronto Raptors snuck in a nice move right before the break and the Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers have just been awful.
What grade is your squad going to get?
The results of losing point guard Jeff Teague, but adding center Dwight Howard? A 32-24 record and the Hawks right in the mix of the playoff race. Not bad.
Ask us and Isaiah Thomas has been the most exciting player to watch in the NBA this season. The 5-foot-9 dynamo, who's averaging nearly 30 points per game, has his Boston Celtics 37-20 and throwing rocks at LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers' throne in the East.
Yes, it has been that kind of season for the NBA-worst Brooklyn Nets. Lots of Ls and missed attempts.
Perhaps if Kemba Walker would've followed through more, the Charlotte Hornets would be more in playoff contention. Well, probably not. Michael Jordan's squad just needs more firepower.
The look on Jimmy Butler's face says it all. For whatever reason, the addition of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo hasn't resulted in a squad climbing up the standings in the East. Instead, it's more like these Bulls (28-29) are just trying to stay afloat and in the playoff race. Ain't that some Bull!
Yeah, give yourself a hand, King James. The four-time NBA MVP has kept his Cleveland Cavaliers (39-16) atop the Eastern Conference, despite injuries to J.R. Smith and most recently Kevin Love. Now, if they could add a piece or two before the trade deadline, they'll really be cooking.
Riding Dirk Nowitzki's wave wasn't going to last forever, bruh. And the Dallas Mavericks' 22-34 record is proof of that. Time to think rebuild.
Denver Nuggets fans are still celebrating their surprising rout win over the Golden State Warriors from earlier this week. Either that or they're the happiest currently seeded eighth team that the league has seen since Dikembe Mutombo's Nuggets. Wait a minute ... does that mean the Nuggets could upset these Warriors come playoff time? No, we're thinking sweep. But enjoy it while it lasts.
The Detroit Pistons (27-30) are just barely clinging to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. That's saying something, right? If not, the look on Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is everything.
Laugh about the Golden State Warriors looking like an R&B group in their All-Star photo shoot all you want. At 47-9, Dub City is right where it needs to be. Yes, they won't outdo their NBA-best 73-9 record from last season, but the addition of Kevin Durant has them as favorites to win their second league championship in three years. In position and waiting.
Too much sauce from James Harden this season. Cooking up to the tune of 29.2 points, 11.3 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game and having the Houston Rockets in third place out West means there's real reason to "Fear the Beard!"
With the exception of Paul George's 22.3 points per game, the Indiana Pacers have been wildly inconsistent this year. Still, their 29-28 record entering All-Star Weekend is good enough to have them sixth in the East.
The Los Angeles Clippers have managed to stay in the thick of the Western Conference, despite floor general Chris Paul missing nearly a month of action with a left-thumb injury. Props to DeAndre Jordan (12 points, 13.8 rebounds per game) on his first-ever All-Star season this year. Do your dance, big fella, do your dance.
Thank God the Los Angeles Lakers named Magic Johnson its new ownership adviser. That's the only good move in what otherwise has been a wash of a season.
Say this for the Memphis Grizzlies (34-24) ... they're still a team to be reckoned with. And in the rugged Western Conference, that isn't anything to be taken lightly.
Not paying Dwyane Wade to stay in the 305 has had its repercussions for the Miami Heat. Their 25-32 record isn't cutting it. Still, with the Eastern Conference being the way it is, they'll still have a shot for a playoff push.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming into his own, averaging a career-high 23.4 points per game in this his fourth season. But that's where the Bucks stop. Their 25-30 record has them currently looking into the playoff picture, meaning they're going to have to get on their game if they'll make the postseason cut.
Consider the 22-35 record growing pains for the young Minnesota Timberwolves. With a nice, young nucleus of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, the T-Wolves have plenty to look forward to in the near future.
The good news? Anthony Davis's 27.7 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game make him an All-Star in position to be the best player in the NBA in a few seasons.
The bad news? His New Orleans Pelicans are terrible at 23-34, lacking firepower to complement his worldly skills. No wonder there are rumors about him possibly joining the Los Angeles Lakers in the near future. AD denied it recently, but if the Pelicans don't get on their job, the 23-year-old could very well bounce from the N.O.
The D stands for dismal and dysfunctional. The New York Knicks have been hard to stomach on and off the court this season. On the court, they've compiled a 23-34 record. Off the court, their superstar Carmelo Anthony has had to constantly field questions about team President Phil Jackson's public criticism of him. And Madison Square Garden dragging former Knicks' great Charles Oakley off the floor last week before his arrest was as ugly as it gets. Something has to give.
Kevin Durant leaving OKC to join the Thunder didn't spell doom for the franchise, thanks to Russell Westbrook, who enters All-Star Weekend averaging a ridiculous triple-double of 31.1 points, 10.1 assists and 10.5 rebounds per game. Oh yeah, the Thunder's 32-25 record ain't too shabby, either.
We're not sure what the Orlando Magic are doing. Trading Serge Ibaka is a head-scratcher for us. Yes, you unload salary, but he's still a very good player that they gave up.
At 21-35, at least they're not tanking anymore. Still, they're very much a work in progress. As Joel Embiid says, though, "Trust the Process."
The Phoenix Suns have one of the nicest backcourts in Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker, who could grow to be an All-Star someday. However, that hasn't kept them from an 18-39 record, the second-worst mark in the league at the All-Star break.
What's the bigger shame — that Damian Lillard didn't make the All-Star cut, despite his 25.7 points per game, or that the Portland Trail Blazers are 23-33 just clinging to life out West and that Lillard doesn't have enough help?
Yes, the Sacramento Kings are competitive, looking into the playoff picture even with their 24-33 record. But it's evident that something is missing and until the team's front office figures it out, it's likely that DeMarcus Cousins will continue mean-mugging on these NBA hardwoods. On second thought, this is Boogie we're talking about. He'd be mean-mugging even if the Kings were winning. Cash him ousside how bow dah?
A typical San Antonio Spurs season, with their 43-13 record being only second to the Golden State Warriors' 47-9 mark at the All-Star break. Kawhi Leonard is having his best season offensively yet, dropping nearly 26 points per game, while still being every bit of "The Claw" on the defensive end. That and they still have the GOAT coach in Gregg Popovich keeping bodies fresh and pulling all the strings. If there's any team in the West that could take out the Warriors, it's San Antonio.
Truth be told, we were set on giving the Toronto Raptors a B- because even though they're in the thick of the Eastern Conference, they seemingly took a backseat to the rising Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards. But right before we could hit them with that letter grade, they pulled off a trade with Orlando for power forward Serge Ibaka. Can you say upgrade? Pairing Ibaka's 15.1 points per game with Toronto's back court of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan gives T-dot that one-two punch down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. Be clear, the Raptors could be a problem come playoff time.
Under first-time All-Star forward Gordon Hayward's 22.2 points per game this season, the Utah Jazz (35-22) have managed to keep up with the heavyweights out West, and that's saying something.
It's hard to fathom that the Washington Wizards started this season a flat 3-9, desperately searching for answers. They got what they were looking for from their floor general, seventh-year point guard John Wall, who's averaging a career high in points (22.8 per game) and assists (10.6). That and Otto Porter is balling to the tune of nearly 15 points per game, making the Wizards (34-21) sitting pretty with the third spot in the East.
(Photos from left: G Fiume/Getty Images, Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images, Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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