Quantcast 2010 NBA All-Star Break: 3 Surprising teams

 

The All-Star Break: Surprise Teams Take Center Stage

 

The 2009-2010 NBA season has been nothing short of exhilerating thus far. The Cavaliers are enjoying their usually dominant regular season success. The Lakers are defending their championship extremely well. There are a ton of dangerous teams in each conference, including the Celtics, Magic, Hawks, and almost every team from first to tenth place in the West. LeBron James is on his way to his second straight MVP award, and Tyreke Evans is slowly widening the gap between himself and Brandon Jennings for Rookie of the Year honors. Kevin Durant is making the Portland Trailblazers cringe for not taking him first overall in 2007 with his consistently dynamic scoring ability, and this leads into the spotlight of this particular piece.

With each new NBA season come both pleasant and disappointing surprise teams. I am a big fan of trying to pinpoint and identify which team will come out each year with the most unexpected fire power or unusual sloth and instability. This particular season in the NBA has been full of surprise teams, and here is my own personal list of the most pleasantly surprising teams so far this season:

 

Top 3 Most Pleasant Surprise Teams

 

3. Houston Rockets: Coming into this season, everybody knew that Yao Ming was not going to step on the court at all, and everybody knew that Tracy McGrady was still battling injuries and nowhere near his former self. What did this obviously mean for all of us? This team had no shot at the Playoffs. Well, the Rockets have managed to answer the doubters. At the All-Star break, the team currently sits at 27-24 and just two games behind Portland for the #8 spot in the West. Aaron Brooks has made a name for himself this year to the point of being mentioned in All-Star discussion. Even certain NBA analysts picked him as an All-Star reserve. Brooks has led his team, composed of fantastic young talents like Carl Landry, Trevor Ariza, and Luis Scola, to a spot that nobody thought they would be able to obtain. With the perfect blend of veterans and youngsters, the Rockets have managed to remain exciting for their fans this season, and that earns them a spot on this list.

 

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2. Phoenix Suns: Yes, this team has two all-stars. Why should the Suns be a surprise team with two all-stars? Well, if that question was asked in October, the answer would have consisted of phrases like, “Nash is not getting any younger”, “Grant Hill is not getting any younger”, “They have no bench”, and “They have no real center”. These questions have been null and void this season. Steve Nash is reminding all of us that he was a two-time MVP for a reason. Grant Hill is finally healthy and proving to be a great contributor to this team. The bench players have all put work in and been playing stellar basketball, from Barbosa to Dudley to Dragic to Robin Lopez. Finally, Channing Frye and Amar'e Stoudamire have been enough in the paint to get Phoenix to 31-22 on the season. For another team that was pegged by many to be in the lottery this season, that is pretty darn impressive.

 

1. Oklahoma City Thunder: Do I even need to explain myself? Kevin Durant is the second-leading scorer in the NBA. He is leading guys like Carmelo, Wade, and Kobe in the category. It is about time he starts being called an elite player in this league. The fact that he could finish in the top three in MVP voting this season is absolutely mind-boggling. Expected to be a bottom-feeder yet again in the West, OKC is 30-21 and tied with the Spurs for fifth in the conference. If they manage to make a big-time trade at the deadline, this team could jump up to becoming one of the top teams in the league. It does not get any more surprising than that.

There have been more than a few disappointing teams up to this point in the NBA season. The Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards are the most alarming choices in this category. Both teams have a ton of talent. After the Elton Brand trade, Philadelphia was being mentioned amongst the top teams in the East, and I am frankly still surprised at how ineffective the team has been with all of their talent. It just has not worked out for them, and the Wizards have the same exact story. Throw in the significant amount of injuries and the Arenas gun scandal and this team's downward spiral has just been overwhelming. The Clippers and Hornets represent the most disappointing teams in the West. L.A. has a great assortment of talent, but they cannot seem to shake the Clipper Curse. Also, the Hornets have, arguably, the best point guard in the league and a great supporting cast, but their record has been sub par, and the injury list has just been too much for New Orleans to handle this season.

The final two months of the NBA season should be nothing short of spectacular. There are numerous teams battling for playoff position, and it seems like there is a new trade rumor to mull over every day. Come February 18, all NBA teams will be finalized (for the most part), and we will have a clearer picture as to which teams will be battling it out for the Larry O'Brien trophy in June. I cannot wait to sit back and enjoy the extremely entertaining ride.

 

P.S. All-Star Weekend Picks: Sophomores defeat Rookies for 8 th straight year, Durant repeats as H.O.R.S.E. champion, Atlanta wins the Haier Shooting Stars, Deron retakes the Skills Challenge, Danilo Gallinari wins the shootout, Shannon soars to the Slam Dunk trophy, and West defeats East in the big game on Sunday. Enjoy the All-Star weekend festivities!

 

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By: Steven Barile
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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