This NBA season has been filled with surprises, and also filled with things that a lot of people expected. The Nuggets are on top of the Western Conference going into 2019, the Timberwolves and Pelicans are near the bottom and the Kings are only two games out of the eight seed. As the All-Star Break and the playoffs get near, a lot of streaks could be getting close to ending or keep going.
Streaks and Droughts In The NBA That Could Finally End
The playoffs are a gauntlet and getting in is crazy difficult, especially in the West. For example, the 14th seed in the West is the New Orleans Pelicans and they are 9.5 games out of first place. In the Eastern Conference, the sixth seed Charlotte Hornets are 8.5 games out of the first seed. This far into the season, that is ridiculous. So let’s take a look at whose droughts and streaks might be coming to an end.
The Kings possess the longest active playoff drought, currently standing at 12 years, but this year is one of the closest they have been in a while. As mentioned before, they are only two games out of the eight seed and have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs this year. De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield have been anchoring one of the top offenses in the league, and for the first time in 12 years, it seems there’s hope in Sac Town.
Oof, the Phoenix Suns have not had a good year. They still have not reached double-digit wins on the year, and sport one of the worst defenses in the league. They also have a long playoff drought, standing at eight seasons. This is a team who definitely has a bright future with Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, but with this slow of a start, the playoffs won’t be in Phoenix for a while.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers haven’t made the playoffs in 5 years, but that may be coming to an end. Whenever LeBron James goes to a new team, success follows. Yes, he is in the Western Conference for the first year ever, and making the Finals in his first year is out of the question. But the playoffs aren’t. The Lakers stand at 21-17 and the eight seed, and they could go up in the standings.
If someone told you before the season started that the Nuggets would be the first seed in the West at the start of 2019, you would think they were crazy. The Nuggets have been using the play of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic to soar to the top of the West. They haven’t made the playoffs in five years when they set a franchise record with 57 wins. As of now, they are on pace to beat that record. Barring a monumental collapse, the Nuggets should secure a playoff berth.
There are certain players who have not been able to get to the All-Star game, and those players are going to give coaches and fans a hard time trying to figure out who deserves to go to the All-Star Game. Young players who have not made the All-Star game won’t be in consideration. For example, Jokic is a player many think should be an All-Star, but he’s only in his 4th season, so a drought is not really possible.
Mike Conley is in his 10th year and has consistently been one of the best point guards in the Western Conference. He is having one of his best seasons to date, at least on the offensive end of the court. Conley is averaging 20.5 PPG and 6.5 APG, both of those are career highs. Conley’s big problem has been his health, but this season he has only missed one game. If he continues to stay healthy, then he will have a serious run at the reserve guard role.
The Dallas Mavericks have not had an All-Star since Dirk Nowitzki in the 14-15 season. That seems like an eternity ago with the mediocrity that has been with the Mavs the last few years. But this year the Mavs are almost in playoff contention and are being led by rookie Luka Doncic. He is averaging 19.6/6.5/5, which is nuts as a rookie. Becoming a starter might happen if he is able to garner enough votes, however, that is unlikely. If the coaches and media think he is worthy enough, the rookie could sneak in.
There was a time when Blake Griffin was considered a top 10 player in the NBA, but those times have long passed. However, in Detroit, Griffin is having a resurgence season of sorts. He is averaging almost 25 PPG, on decent efficiency too (46.6% FG, 36.7% 3PT). He is also averaging 8.7 RPG and 5 APG, totals few players can match. Like with Conley, Griffin has struggled with health in his career, dating back to his Ben Simmons-like rookie year. Also like Conley, he has only missed one game this year. If he can sustain this production until the All-Star break, then for the first time in five seasons, Griffin could be an All-Star.