Beyond the Arc

by Ben Fiore

There has been a lot to be excited about this season. A lot of unexpected change and even some surprising disappointments. There has been so much that has already happened this year, but I had to narrow down the Top 5 storylines before Christmas.

5. Lakers and Bucks controlling their conferences

The Lakers and Bucks are both sitting at a comfortable 21-3 on top of both the West and East. LeBron has finally found his team since the addition of Anthony Davis and even players like Danny Green when healthy and a resurgent Kyle Kuzma. Giannis is just as dominant as last year and if anything has even less help since losing Malcom Brogdon to the Pacers. The rest of his line up includes Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Brooke Lopez and a circulating 4th player. Yet they are still performing well which I believe is due in part to Giannis making them better. Watch for these two teams to hold these leads all the way through playoffs.

4. The Knicks still suck and it’s not all David Fizdale’s fault.

The Knicks are the leagues worst 4-20 (blaze it). But truthfully the Knicks have ALWAYS been bad, basically since the early 90’s. Even in some of the Marbury, Melo or Porzingis ages they could never really do much. But the last few years have been absolutely miserable. Do I think David Fizdale was the guy to fix this issue? No, but I won’t put all the blame on him. The owners and GM of the Knicks have lost bids on Kyrie, KD and Kawhi in just this past year. Let alone other stars they’ve past up in the last five seasons. They dump money into mediocre players like Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris and others. They already have a weak line up, and adding more mediocrity to the mix isn’t going to change your results. When will the Knicks ever be good again?

3. Luka’s lethal case for MVP

I’ve been saying this from the beginning since his draft day… this kid is the future. Everyone thought he might have a sophomore slump this year but holy shit man. At 20 years old in his second NBA season this child is averaging 30 PPG 9.8 RPG and 9.2 APG AND the Mavericks are at a healthy 16-7 sitting at the No. 3 spot in the West. Obviously the addition of Porzingis helped, but honestly this kid just has some of the most raw offensive ability I have ever seen from almost ANY player. Considering he is leading a bad franchise to good things, I think it’s between him and Giannis for MVP at this point in the year.

2. The Miami Heat, but especially their rookies

BURNING UP. At 18-6 and third in the East, the Heat look like a real contender. Jimmy Butler has been ELECTRIC and truly turned the city around while also showing the world that Bam Adebayo is becoming an elite big man. But what I am most impressed by is the two rookies they drafted this past offseason. Tyler Herro out of Kentucky and Kendrick Nunn out of Oakland. Herro was their first round pick who showed that he was a sniper in college. I was hesitant to believe that would transfer just because a lot of white Americans who are great shooters in college usually don’t transfer that well to the NBA. Think about Jimmer Fredette or Kyle Singler and many others. But he has taken over and provided much more productivity than beginning of the season starter Goran Dragic. Kendrick Nunn was expected to probably get dropped before the season and now he is a high flying slashing guard that is constantly making plays for Miami. They are also the most offensively efficient rookie duo in the last 5 years. If they consistent, this Miami rebuild just might get them back where they need to be.

1. Carmelo is BACK and playing WELL.

I admit it. I was wrong. I have been an anti Melo guy for a long time. I always thought he was lazy, and overrated and had shining moments but hasn’t been consistent since like 2007. But I think he truly found his niche as a role player in Portland. Although their record might not reflect it, Melo is playing extremely well for someone who is getting older and has been out of the league for a few years. He’s averaging 16 PPG and 5.6 RPG which has truly given the Blazers a nice boost of confidence and energy. And above all, Melo looks happy. He seems to really enjoy the city and his teammates and just being one of the guys instead of being leaned on as the star or leader. Melo, I’m sorry and I’m happy for you.

Well there is still a lot of season left, but what’s happened so far gives me HUGE expectations for the rest of the year. It’s gonna be a fun one. Game on.