First Half Assessment of the 2009 NBA Season

NBA First Half Report
by Jason Green of

Well, the first half of the NBA season is upon us and there have been many surprises and many disappointments. A few of the things that are not surprising is the continued dominance of the Lakers and Celtics, the race for the MVP between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, and the Thunder, T-Wolves, and Bobcats continuing to struggle.

Disappointing Teams

The Clippers may be the biggest disappointment of the first half, as bringing in Baron Davis and Marcus Camby has not worked out as they hoped in La La land. The Clippers had high hopes with their new players, but they are back to their losing ways and are in 13th position in the Western Conference and have the league’s 3rd worst record. The Raptors and 76ers were supposed to challenge the Celtics in the Atlantic Division, as they each picked up big players, but even though Philly is still in the playoff race they are only 3 games above .500 and the Raptors are in 14th position in the Eastern Conference and are 13 games under .500. Prized free agent Elton Brand never meshed with the 76ers and now he is out for the year with a bum shoulder. The Raptors though trading for Jermaine O’Neal would put them in the league’s elite, but he has been a major disappointment and has looked nothing like the dominant player he was while with the Pacers. Other disappointing teams are the Pistons (only 3 games over .500 and around .500 since picking up Allen Iverson), Phoenix, who just can’t get their team to mesh, and the Wizards.

Surprising Teams

The biggest surprise so far has to be a tie between the Trailblazers and the Nuggets. The Blazers are legit with their youth, as Brandon Roy has emerged as one of the league’s better players and 2nd year rookie Greg Oden gets better every game. They are currently in the 4th position in the Western Conference. Many thought the Nuggets got the short end of the stick in the Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups trade, but Billups has energized the Nuggets and is a perfect fit for the team that is in the 3rd position in the Western Conference. Miami surpassed their win total from last year long ago and they are in the playoff hunt with Dwayne Wade leading the league in scoring and garnering some serious MVP consideration. The Hawks currently hold the 4th position in the Eastern Conference and are a legit threat. Even though the Nets are currently in the 9th position in the Eastern Conference they have a bright future, with Devin Harris and stud rookie Brook Lopez and they have playoff hopes for this season even though nobody expected them to do anything.

Surprising Players

There have been some surprising players in the first half and many of them will be, or should be, playing in the All Star game. Danny Granger of the Pacers is averaging 25.4 points and is almost hitting 40% of his 3-point shots. Jameer Nelson is one of the most surprising players in the first half, but even though he made the All Star team and was the front-runner for Most Improved Player, he may miss the rest of the year because of a shoulder injury. Shaq made his 17th All Star game and the Diesel has energized the engine to the tune of averaging 17.9 ppg and 8.9 rpg. Chauncey Billups is good player, but his effect on the Nuggets, who are a legit threat in the West, is a big surprise. Other surprising players of the first half are Nets G Devin Harris, Jazz F Paul Milsap, and Celtics PG Rajon Rondo.

Disappointing Players

The aforementioned Elton Brand and Jermaine O’Neal are at the top of the
list of disappointing players, but they are not the only ones. Obviously
it is major disappointment that Gilbert Arenas is still out and does not
look to play this year. Looks like it was not a great idea to sign him to
a huge contract only to see him go through one knee surgery after another.
Baron Davis has clashed with his head coach and the prized free-agent has
taken the Clippers nowhere, but what did he expect, it’s the Clippers? A
trio of disappointments that can turn it around are Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady,
and Ron Artest. Sure, the Rockets are in the 6th position in the West, but
many thought that bringing in Ron Artest would be the final piece they needed,
but for the Rockets it’s the same old song and dance, as they cannot stay
healthy. Lastly, what was the point of acquiring Mike Miller in Minnesota
if he’s just going to come off the bench and play 18 minutes with a flat
stat line?