• Kory Waldron

Western Conference: Who’s Hot and Who’s Cold?

Northwest Division:

*Photo via NBA.com

Hot: Oklahoma City Thunder (14-8) last ten games (7-3)

- The Thunder, currently are rolling as they’ve won three straight. With Kevin Durant back healthy alongside Russell Westbrook the Thunder are likely to start expanding on these recent stretch of wins. Currently Durant and Westbrook are BOTH averaging 27 points per game. An along with 27 a game Westbrook is averaging seven and half rebounds with just under ten assists. After Thursday night’s win against the Atlanta Hawks, we saw Durant with a triple-double to go along with double-doubles from Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. When the Thunder’s big three are playing at that level it’s near impossible for them to be beat. The key factor for the Thunder to stay hot and build momentum in the West will come from the bench players to become more productive when both Durant and Westbrook are off the court.

*Photo via USA Today

Cold: Denver Nuggets (8-14) last ten games (2-8)

- It’s been a roller coaster thus far for the Nuggets. After a 6-5 start, the Nuggets have hit rock bottom losing eight in row. For the first time as an NBA fan, I witnessed a professional team score just five points in a quarter. Now the Nuggets have won two straight, one being against the league worst Philadelphia 76ers, but all the same it’s two in a row. It’s unlikely for this team to really be much more than what you see now since Wilson Chandler is confirmed out for the season. The bright side for this team is the youth, guys like Emmanuel Mudiay, Nikola Jokic and the surprise of the team Will Barton. Mudiay stats are eye cringing to say the least. However, the stats are misleading; on the court you can see Mudiay just needs time to develop!

Pacific Division:

*Photo via USA Today

Hot: Golden State Warriors (23-0)

- This is not Ridley’s Believe it or Not, the Warriors are actually on the verge of ending 2015 undefeated. Steph Curry continues to shoot video game like numbers during this win streak. Curry is averaging 32 points a game on the season and already has three games this year where he has scored 40 through three quarters and didn’t play a minute in the fourth. The Warriors success as a team largely comes from the success the team has in sharing the ball, the Warriors lead the league in team assists averaging 28.9 a game. To no surprise as well the Warriors lead the league in three point shooting, shooting 40 percent from behind the arc. The Warriors hot streak sees no signs of cooling off anytime soon, as they continue to win with a 15 point differential. They have some scrappy match-ups on the schedule, however, don’t expect them to lose any of them. Heading into the Christmas showdown against LeBron, the Warriors should still be undefeated.

*Photo via USA Today

Cold: Los Angeles Lakers (3-19) last ten games (1-9)

- The Lakers have fallen even farther than many expected even with the return of Kobe Bryant this season. As the Lakers try and rebuild for the future it seems that on a nightly basis, it will be a Kobe shooting his way further and further into the sunset of retirement. Despite the horrible shooting of Kobe now at 29 percent and the struggling D'angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle have both taken strides this season, the likelihood is the Lakers will continue to sit at the bottom of the division. With Byron Scott’s new rotation however with Russell and Randle coming of the bench, we saw Russell have his best game as a pro against the Minnesota Timberwolves, a silver lining of sorts for all Laker fans.

Southwest Division:

*Photo via USA Today

Hot: San Antonio Spurs (18-5) last ten games (8-2)

- In the current state of the Warrior Conference, I mean Western Conference. You’d never realize the second hottest team in the league was the Spurs. Year in and year out the Spurs seem to fly under the radar, we know they'll be title contenders, yet we don’t acknowledge them fully. Either way here they are, second in the pack with a point differential of ten a game (only team better, the Warriors). From top to bottom the Spurs are getting contributions from just about everyone, save for Danny Green. The standout however, has been Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is developing more and more into a two way threat much like another small forward in the league, Paul George. Leonard currently leads the league in three point percentage at 50 percent, and to go with that he’s shooting 50 percent from the field overall. The Spurs are hot and their young superstar is leading the way.

*Photo via USA Today

Cold: New Orleans Pelicans (5-16) last ten games (4-6)

- The Pelicans were decimated with injuries to start off the year and Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans were the notable injuries. With their recent big win in overtime against the Cleveland Cavaliers, it seems as the Pelicans are poised to try and get back into the Western conference race. The key issue early on for the Pelicans has been that the defense has been poor. As long as they now can stay healthy with everyone back, they can begin right the ship.

#NBA #HotCold #KoryWaldron