NBA – Lakers, Nets, MVP: 6 big end-of-season questions

Who will be selected as MVP?

They’re still four in the game, which is pretty rare at this stage of the season when one or two candidates are used to standing out. But this game is especially about the four most prestigious players vying for individual trophies standing in pocket handkerchiefs: defending champion Nikola Jokic, his predecessor Giannis Antetokounmpo, second last year’s The famous Joel Embiid and DeMar DeRozan. 32 Renaissance.

All four All-Stars have strong reasons. Jokic is arguably the most “worthy”. His team ranks lower — the Nuggets are sixth in the Western Conference with a 33-25 record — but if the Serb doesn’t play, they’ll likely get the No. 1 overall pick. Already elected in 2021, the Denver hub appears stronger with his staggering stats of 26 points, nearly 14 rebounds and eight assists per game.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player in the league in Kevin Durant’s absence. He also continues to improve season after season. Two consecutive MVPs in 2019 and 2020, he’s likely to pick up a third trophy. He had 50 points on 21 shots before the last All-Star Game, suggesting he’ll gain momentum as the playoffs loom. At the end of the day, his only problem is that voters are pretty much used to seeing him develop at this level. He didn’t benefit from the unintended effect.

Nikola Jokic vs Giannis Antetokounmpo in the NBA Bucks vs Nuggets game on January 30, 2022

Credit: Getty Images

Embiid is, too, a priori, but his recent performance is still moving people’s spirits. The Cameroonian center averaged 30 points — like Giannis Antetokounmpo — along with 11 rebounds and four assists. Everything will ultimately depend on how he fits in with James Harden and how the Sixers perform in the closing stages.

DeRozan may be the best position to lead the team to No. 1 in the East. The Bulls are currently tied for second with the Heat. But Chicago will have to lose several important players (Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso). Right now, the Illinois team is relying on the extraordinary performance of its star, who just broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record for seven straight games with at least 35 points and a 50 percent field goal percentage.

  • Prognosis: Giannis Antetokounmpo/Joel Embiid if the Bucks/76ers are No. 1 in the East. Otherwise Nikola Jokic.

Who will be No. 1 in the East?

It’s tight there too. There are no fewer than five teams that really have a chance of finishing first! Currently, Miami (38-21) leads Chicago (38-21), Philadelphia (35-23), Cleveland (35-23) and Milwaukee (36-24). But the difference between first and fifth place is only two races. There are only a few meetings to take place. Everything is still playable.

The Bulls are at their best, but they have to face some packages. The 76ers will have to integrate James Harden, and the Cavs are inexperienced. It could be good for the Heat and Bucks.

  • Prognosis: Miami number one.

Can the Nets still aim for a championship?

How is Brooklyn in all this? Among the early-season favorites, the New Yorkers didn’t even appear on the list of five teams that could top the Eastern Conference. In fact, they went one step further, dropping to eighth place (31-28) after 11 straight losses!

A dark series about the superstar trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. The latter quietly left and walked in the direction of Philadelphia. So the Nets have to deal with a cabinet shakeup that could benefit them…but when? Ben Simmons, Cescurry and Andre Drummond are all interesting reinforcements. Curry and Drummond even contributed to Brooklyn’s first win in weeks. Simmons, on the other hand, could be an ideal addition to Durant’s side. A versatile winger who can defend in multiple positions, run off the ball and more. His qualities will be better displayed in Brooklyn. It remains to be seen when he will return after a few months out.

Australians have to recover (both physically and mentally) to find the floor. So does KD. Then they will have to make their own marks together. All of Irving is limited to eight games on the road and remains unavailable for home games because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. The leaders brought in Goran Dragic to make up for his absence.

Ben Simmons

Credit: Getty Images

The Nets will be dangerous in the playoffs if the chemistry of this beautiful little world develops quickly. They will continue as long as Durant stays healthy. Be careful not to underestimate them. Especially since in the end, not having home-court advantage is almost in their favor this season. It’s still another game for Irving in the series.

  • Prognosis: Seventh in the Eastern Conference, qualifying for the playoffs. They’ll make it all the way to the Western Conference semifinals this season.

Can James Harden and Joel Embiid win the 76ers?

On the other side of the trade, the Sixers traded Seth Curry and Andre Drummond for James Harden. Ben Simmons is no longer playing. So, an MVP on a team already ranked third in the East. He’ll bring what this team is missing: a second superstar to replace Joel Embiid, a game-creating point guard, and a skilled shooter to take advantage of the center’s two offenses.

These two superstars have the ability to shine together. Whether Harden and Embiid will actually agree to a successful compromise remains to be seen. Because there is no talent association can not work. There, for the first few months, it should work. Everything is still new, everything is still beautiful. On the other hand, if the Sixers can’t get across the track, it could get more complicated in a year or two.

  • Prognosis: The 76ers won’t make it to the NBA Finals.

Will the Suns keep their No. 1 spot?

The question might seem silly, since Phoenix really dominated the first half of the season, currently leading Golden State by six wins. But Chris Paul will miss the next 6-8 weeks, which could affect the Suns’ results. The veteran remains at the heart of Monty Williams’ setup, especially in the heat of the moment, at the end of a tight game.

But the team has other resources. It can rely on a well-established system where everyone knows their role. Devin Booker will take on more responsibility, while Mikal Bridges and DeAndre Ayton will be tasked with further improving their game. Normally, this should pass.

  • Prognosis: Phoenix will retain its top spot and continue to be a very, very, very serious title contender.

Do the Lakers still have the assets to save their season?

In fact, the question amounts to wondering if there is one team that can really make a difference in this poorly structured Lakers team. In other words, a league of seven or eight players who can create synergies and find balance on the court. may be. But the problem is it probably doesn’t include Russell Westbrook, who has a hard time playing alongside LeBron James.

Especially since the Los Angeles natives will be stripped of Anthony Davis. The formation, ranked ninth in the West with a negative balance (27-31), took another hit. For now, Los Angeles is closer to missing out on the playoffs than reaching sixth and going straight to the playoffs. LeBron James is pretty much the team’s only hope. A brutal look at the 37-year-old, whose body sometimes starts to loosen. If just sending the Lakers into the top eight in the league, the Kings will have to outdo themselves.

LeBron James

Credit: Getty Images

On the other hand, for the title, it seems to be done. James recently admitted to having “too much difference“Between the Lakers and the Bucks. That goes for other trophy candidates as well. Even when done well, this team is still too imperfect. It’s going to keep going hot and cold. Before going out.

  • Prognosis: The Lakers will qualify for the playoffs through the playoffs before being eliminated in the first round for the second straight season.

Two “bonus” questions

  • Which 16 teams will advance to the playoffs?

The East has the Heat, Bulls, Bucks, 76ers, Cavaliers, Celtics, Nets, Raptors. Western Suns, Warriors, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Jazz, Nuggets, Lakers and Clippers.

Bucks – Warriors.

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