Is parity starting to become a norm in the NBA? Is it here to stay? Maybe. Move over superteams, the Orange Roundball League is becoming even more interesting. Instead of two or three teams vying for the opportunity to win an NBA title, more than a handful of squads look the part with about a quarter of the 2018-19 regular-season slate complete.
The current standings in the Western Conference show an absolute logjam at the top. It isn’t nearly as prevalent in the Eastern Conference with the Toronto Raptors (18-4), the only team in the league north of the border, putting a stranglehold on the competition. However, if you look a little closer, parity is beginning to permeate throughout the East as well. For now, I’ll take a deeper look out West.
Western Conference Standings (before evening tip-offs on November 28th)
- Los Angeles Clippers — 13-6
- Golden State Warriors — 15-7
- Denver Nuggets — 14-7
- Oklahoma City Thunder — 12-7
- Memphis Grizzlies — 12-8
- Portland Trail Blazers — 12-8
From one to six in the standings out West, the Clippers and Trail Blazers are separated by just two games. That’s parity, folks.
Although they’ve hit huge pitfalls along the way, it still looks like the Warriors and Nuggets may very well be the best two franchises in the West at the moment. The Warriors have had their fair share of controversy with the Kevin Durant and Draymond Green debacle. Following an overtime loss to the Clippers on Monday, November 12th, it became evident that Green and Durant were getting into it verbally both during and after the contest.
Mr. Green was subsequently given a one-game suspension. Unfortunately, this is not the first time these two mates have had problems with one another. Add an unhealthy Stephen Curry, who’ll return to the floor soon, and you’ve got issues. All of this doesn’t really matter in the end. They’re the Warriors — winners of three of the past four NBA championships. They’ll be just fine.
As for the Nuggets, their 9-1 start went down the crap-shoot with a horrifyingly dreadful 1-6 stretch. Now, victors of four-straight games, Denver looks the part once again. Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap, and Nikola Jokic lead the troops, but let’s not forget about what they’ll look like when star guards Will Barton and former Boston Celtics’ great, Isiah Thomas, return to the hardwood from prominent injuries. Barton is rebounding from surgery to repair his right adductor muscle (right hip area), and Mr. Thomas is still awaiting his return from a stubborn right hip injury. Isiah hasn’t seen the floor yet in the 2018-19 campaign, but his vocal prominence as a leader on the bench has provided a little extra juice.
What’s up with the Clippers? Well, a climb to the perch of the West. Really? Indeed. With the early struggles plaguing LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers, Staples Center has a new opening act… The Clips. Seriously. Without Chris Paul or Blake Griffin on their roster anymore, a team-first mentality is creating a force in the City of Angels. Danilo “The Italian Assassin” Gallinari (my wife’s dreamboat of a player) and Lou Williams are igniting the Clippers.
Taking a glimpse at the Thunder, they still have the services of Russell “The Road Runner” Westbrook. Beep, beep. Along with his buddy Paul “PG-13” George, Russ & Co. are a dangerous threat. The Grizzlies still have Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, Jr. at their disposal. Add formidable talent from top to bottom on their 12-man roster, and don’t forget about Memphis.
Last but certainly not least, Portland comes at you like gangbusters with two superior guards. Damian Lillard and C. J. McCollum can flat manipulate the orange. Add center Jusuf Nurkic to the mix, and don’t sleep on the Trail Blazers.
For the better, parity is starting to change the NBA landscape. Entertainment value is at an all-time high.