Photo by Keith Allison via Wikipedia Commons
As long as they stay healthy, the Bucks will stay in the top spot for the remainder of the regular season. Giannis Anetntekumpo is yet again an MVP candidate, and their role players have fit in beautifully to their system.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have some depth problems but still they have the third best record in the league. They will need to make some trades and add some load management to LeBron James and Anthony Davis if they want postseason success. If they do, they are set for a deep postseason run.
3. Utah Jazz
After a ten-game winning streak, the Jazz have the fourth best record in the Western Conference, despite a slow start. They’ve had great stretches from Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles. If they can successfully integrate Mike Conley back into the rotation after an injury, they can do even better than many believed at the start of the season.
4. Boston Celtics
Despite recent losses and lots of minor injuries, the Celtics sit at third place in the Eastern Conference. When their starting lineup is healthy, they are amongst the most dangerous and versatile teams in the league and should be playing deep into the spring.
5. Denver Nuggets
Halfway through the season, the Nuggets are in second place in the Western Conference. After a very slow start to the season, Nikola Jokic has steadily improved and played in the All-Star game in Chicago. If Jamal Murray can take the next step to stardom after he returns from his injury, the Nuggets are a dark-horse for the Conference Finals.
6. Miami Heat
The Heat, sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, is the most underrated team in the league this season and it isn’t even close. Bam Adebayo is looking like a Most Improved Player, and Jimmy Butler has only increased the underdog culture in Miami by leading his team full of rookies and unknown veterans to a high playoff seed.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are as much as had been anticipated at the start of the season. Even though they’re in third place in the Western Conference, they are the favorite to win the Western Conference due to Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and a very solid bench.
8. Houston Rockets
The Russell Westbrook and James Harden experiment is actually kind of… working? Both players have made sacrifices for the sake of the team, but if they can be a successful playoff team remains the big question.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder
One of the best stories this year is this Thunder team that was left for dead but has somehow found a way to compete in the Western Conference. Chris Paul has shown he has plenty left in the tank, Shai Gilgious-Alexander is a legit young star, and their decent supporting cast should push them to the first round, at least.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
It is becoming slowly more exposed that it is nearly impossible to win when the two best players of a team can’t make three-pointers (looking at you, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid). Who would’ve thought?