The NBA All-Star weekend has passed and the second half of the season starts this Wednesday. At this time, we know who the leading scorers in the league are. We also know who the best teams have been (the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers sit atop their respective conferences). But there are still many unanswered questions in the NBA that need answering. The second half of the season runs through May 16th, so teams will have two months to get the answers. Here are the four unanswered questions in the NBA post-All-Star break.
Four Unanswered Questions In The NBA After the All-Star Break
Will The New York Knicks Remain In The Playoffs?
For as many surprises as we’ve had this season, perhaps none has been bigger than the emergence of the New York Knicks. Although they weren’t in offseason playoff predictions, they possess a 19-18 record and sit in fifth place in the East.
Tom Thibodeau has successfully implemented his defensive-minded scheme. And as a result, the Knicks allow the fewest points per game in the NBA. Unfortunately for them, their offense hasn’t caught up with their rising defense. In fact, they’re the league’s second lowest-scoring team.
If the Knicks want to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013, Julius Randle will have to continue his All-Star caliber play. Randle’s been the catalyst for their offense, leading the team in scoring and rebounding (23.2 points and 11.1 rebounds per game).
The main weaknesses for the Knicks come in their fast-break offense and three-point shooting. They’re the league’s lowest-scoring team on the fast break and attempt the second-fewest threes. For the rest of the season, eyes will be on the Knicks as they try and answer one of the biggest unanswered questions in the NBA.
Can The Utah Jazz Continue To Lead The West?
In all honesty, who expected the Jazz and Phoenix Suns to be sitting in first and second place in the West at the halfway point? Sure the Suns were expected to be a playoff lock with Chris Paul, but they’re winners in 16 of their last 19 games. And with Devin Booker averaging 24.9 points a game, the Suns are going to be a tough out each night.
What’s scary is how well their role players complement one another and that they all add defense. The Suns allow the third-fewest points per game in the league and are loaded with good defenders in Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder, and Mikal Bridges.
Meanwhile, the Jazz is playing elite on both ends of the floor with their small knit rotation playing their roles to perfection. They benefit from what we’ve seen in college basketball this season; teams with experience playing together have a big advantage.
Donovan Mitchell is continuing to add to his offensive arsenal and improve his consistency while Rudy Gobert is on his way to another defensive player of the year award. As a team, they shoot the three at a 39.8 percent clip and are ferocious in getting rebounds. Behind them in third and fourth are the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.
How Will The Los Angeles Teams Respond?
The Lakers have been without Anthony Davis since Valentine’s Day and are 3-6 in those games. Luckily, LeBron James is having another MVP-caliber season and is as impactful as ever at 36 years old (25.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game). The biggest strength the Lakers have is owning the top defensive rating in the league.
Being healthy for the postseason will be the bigger priority for Frank Vogel and his team than regaining the top seed. Although they’re only three and a half games behind the Jazz for it, so the race is far from over.
On the other side, the Clippers have six rotation players averaging 40 percent or higher clips from downtown. Unlike the Lakers who have a suffocating defense and average offense, the Clippers have a lethal offense and average defense. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have both played better than last year.
George has improved his three-point percentage to 45 and Leonard has the second-highest field goal percentage of his career. They’re making up for Lou Williams struggling heavily and the loss of Montrezl Harrell. The Clippers have the deepest bench of the top four, while the Jazz has the shallowest. Come playoff time, depth will be massive. But for now, who earns home-court advantage is one of the unanswered questions in the NBA.
How Will The Trade Deadline/Buyout Market Affect The League?
This year, we don’t just have the March 25th trade deadline to look forward to. We have the buyout market playing a supporting role in mixing up rosters around the league. Blake Griffin has already signed with the Brooklyn Nets, giving them a much-needed body in the frontcourt. Another big man Andre Drummond is heavily involved in buyout talks and is rumored to sign with the Lakers. The list of players involved in trade rumors is extensive and filled with big names including some who are more likely to be traded such as P.J. Tucker.
The biggest unanswered questions in the NBA will be the status of stars like Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo, and others. Lowry is a very interesting case because he’s been rumored to Miami and Philadelphia, and would raise the ceiling of whoever he went to. Another name that fans need to keep an eye on is Victor Oladipo. Oladipo has been rumored to Miami since he was with the Indiana Pacers but has recently received interest from the Golden State Warriors.
The Unanswered Questions In The NBA Will Be Answered
Rest assured, these unanswered questions in the NBA will get answered. And in light of that, new questions will be asked. This season has been unusual, to say the least. Not having fans has been strange, and the postponement of games flat-out sucks. But this season has still been as exciting as we could’ve hoped for. And whatever happens in the second half of the season will be much more meaningful as the playoffs creep closer.