Jeremy Bauman: There was always a slight chance the Los Angeles Lakers super team didn’t work out… But I wasn’t one of the people (there aren’t many) who saw this coming. They played pretty poor basketball, management fired their coach, they played some more discombobulated basketball with newly hired Mike D’Antoni as their coach, and then they finally looked like they were beginning to play better of late… And Pau Gasol goes down with a torn plantar fascia on his right foot.
It’s been so damn disappointing, for so many reasons that you’ve probably read all over the web, yet the greatest and most pleasant surprise has come as a direct result of the Lakers inconsistent play: Kobe Bryant has been forced into the role of playmaker, a role that demands even more energy than simply scoring, and, during his 17th season in the NBA, this has to be humbling for him.
Nevertheless, Bryant’s proving that when he wants to be a playmaker, he can get things. With Gasol sidelined and Howard in and out of the lineup, it’ll be fascinating to see how Bryant responds over the next few months.
Will he continue to play with and trust his teammates or will he revert back to score-first, pass second Kobe?
Time will tell.
Maxwell Ogden: The biggest disappointment from the first half of the season has to be the fact that injuries have played such a significant role in shaping the NBA. I know that’s a bit of a cop-out, but how many injuries are we going to see? Derrick Rose, Danny Granger and Andrew Bynum are still out. Dwight Howard still isn’t himself, while Pau Gasol hasn’t been healthy at all and Steve Nash missed half of the season.
Then you throw in guys who recently returned such as Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert. Unfortunately, they’re met by players who are still out such as Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby.
And that’s just one team!
Tack on Rajon Rondo and Lou Williams being done for the season and injuries are the biggest disappointment. Then again, aren’t they always?
As great as the Golden State Warriors have been, the most pleasant surprise has been Jrue Holiday. He came into this season having claimed that he deserved a max contract. Unfortunately, he hadn’t done anything to earn the money.
Shows you what we know.
Holiday is presently averaging 19.3 points and 9.0 assists.
Just imagine how good he’ll look if Andrew Bynum ever makes it back on the floor.
Ben Baroff: My biggest first-half disappointment is the Minnesota Timberwolves, through no fault of their own. Each year one team catches the injury-bug, and this year, unfortunately, it was the T-Wolves.
Between Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Brandon Roy, the 2012-’13 NBA season was robbed of a young, talented and feel-good team (and LeaguePass favorite) that would have surely made the playoffs if healthy.
Rick Adleman is an excellent coach and will have this team in the playoffs next season.
My biggest surprise piggybacks off what we touched on earlier, the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls, and their ability to not just stay afloat, but also contend without their respective No. 1 players (Granger and Rose).
They are scary good on the defensive end – No. 1 and No. 3 in defensive efficiency – and adding their top scoring punches and team leaders will only give them a boost.
As the current 3rd and 4th seeds, they both are already looking at hosting a first round playoff series against beatable opponents, and will assuredly give the Heat and Knicks all they can handle in the second round, if not the conference finals.
Is it spring yet?
Jeremy Bauman is an aspiring scout and shooting coach who writes columns and blogs for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Maxwell Ogden is a sports journalist and aspiring scout who writes columns for SheridanHoops.c
Ben Baroff is an aspiring sports journalist and marketing professional who blogs and writes columns for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.