After a ridiculous trade deadline, where over 30 players and 5 first round draft choices were traded, the NBA’s playoff battle finds itself in an interesting and sure to be entertaining position.
In the West, there are three main contenders for the eighth seed – Phoenix, Oklahoma City, and New Orleans. As of now, PHX has the spot with a 29-25 record. OKC is right behind, at 28-25, and NOP follow at 27-26. All three have legitimate shots at grabbing the final spot, and you could make a case that the NBA would be a better place if they all did.
With New Orleans, it is apparent that Anthony Davis is the future of the NBA. Getting him into the playoffs as soon as possible should be a goal for the NBA (not that it has an agenda, or anything…?). It would be great to see the Brow square off in some games that actually mattered.
But the Pelicans aren’t the best of teams, and they filled a big hole with a trade at the deadline – backup (starting) point guard. With Jrue Holiday out with a leg injury and a reported set back in his recovery, NO knew they had to address their lack of quality at point guard. They did just that by trading for Miami HEAT PG Norris Cole.
This isn’t a tectonic trade by any means, but it still helps the team, especially since they gave up essentially nothing for him (John Salmons and the piece of paper that for some reason binds him to play in the NBA [contract]).
Oklahoma City was also active on the trade front. They acquired guard D.J. Augustin, forwards Steve Novak and Kyle Singler, and promising big man Enes Kanter in a three team deal that sent veteran Kendrick Perkins to Utah and disgruntled star and backup point guard Reggie Jackson to Detroit.
This move severely bolstered their bench, and it looks like it lined the Thunder up for a big playoff push.
The Suns were by far the most active team at the deadline, trading star guard Goran Dragic and his brother Zoran to Miami for Danny Granger and two first rounders. They also sent guard Isaiah Thomas to Boston for Marcus Thornton and a future first round pick and Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee to Milwaukee, whilst acquiring Bucks star Brandon Knight.
The giant load of moves that the Suns unleashed is hard to judge at the moment, and it will take a few games for the new team to bond.
Overall, all three teams arguably got better, and that just makes for a juicier second semester of NBA basketball than expected.
As for the East, the contest is much broader.
Technically, the Pistons, Pacers, Celtics, Nets, Heat, and Hornets will occupy the final two playoff positions in the East. Charlotte and Miami are tied at 22-30, but Charlotte holds the seventh spot. Miami was looking for a large change to push them past the mediocre company they find themselves in (8th seed), and they found it.
The HEAT sent two first rounders and Danny Granger to Phoenix for the Dragic brothers. The new lineup that Pat Riley is cooking up looks scary – Dragic, Wade, Deng, Bosh, Whiteside.
That team got perhaps better than any other team this deadline. But they weren’t the only team gearing for a playoff push out East.
Detroit traded for promising PG Reggie Jackson to fill the void left by Brandon Jennings’ achilles injury. The Nets exchanged the aging Kevin Garnett for a useful piece in Thaddeus Young in what was more of a sentimental trade than anything else. The Celtics grabbed former Sun and King Isaiah Thomas to lead the charge, and the Pacers attempted to trade for just about everyone but failed.
So you can say MOST of these teams got better, but Miami did by an overwhelmingly large margin when compared to the others.
It will definitely be interesting to see which teams HEAT up and which teams fall further down the standings (cough Pacers cough).
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