5. Los Angeles Lakers
There's a reason people stop and stare at road accidents – they are genuinely interesting. It's human nature to commiserate with those involved and be curious as to what exactly happened.
That's the appeal of tuning into Los Angeles Lakers games these days. On paper, the Lakers shouldn't be bad. But they’ve started this season at 12-12, good for sixth place and on pace for another trip to the play-in tournament. With at least six future Hall of Famers and several solid role players, the Lakers should be contenders, but they’ve found ways to be comically bad this season.
We’re only barely a fourth of the way through the season and the team from Hollywood has already produced a season’s worth of drama – from Anthony Davis looking as fragile as a fossil to LeBron James somehow taking nine COVID-19 tests in a span of two days. This week’s drama also involves Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan, with head coach Frank Vogel announcing that his team would only play one of their over-the-hill centers in a game at a time.
The Lakers’ games are also convenient for Pinoys as they usually play on West Coast time, meaning they come on right around lunch. Will the Lakers ever figure out that Russell Westbrook might be washed? When will Anthony Davis finally accept his best role as the starting center? Who will LeBron tweet at after the game? Forget Sir Chief (from Pinoy favorite Be Careful with My Heart) – the Lakers are the best pre-lunch telenovela of all time.
4. New York Knicks
Speaking of car crashes, the New York Knicks have been another case of making losing interesting. Unlike the Lakers, the Knicks have lost their last three games in the most Broadway way possible.
They started with taking their cross-town rivals Brooklyn Nets down to the last possession. The clutch shot-making was a true marvel, but the incessant complaining to the refs by the Knicks truly put the cherry on top of the spicy cake. Apparently, Julius Randle is too strong to have fouls called on his behalf. They followed it up with a spirited comeback effort against the Chicago Bulls at home that just fell a couple of possessions short. Then the meltdown truly initiated when they lost another home game to the banged-up Denver Nuggets.
Zoom in on AG’s finger pic.twitter.com/xXJhn4lNrR— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) December 4, 2021
Randle has begun to pick up his game, attacking the rim more aggressively instead of settling for jumpers. There’s plenty of hope for the Knicks, especially as they go on a road trip this week, facing struggling opponents. For now, “Bing Bong” went from the battle cry of a passionate fan base to a meme used by their opponents to rub salt on the wound. New York is truly back.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
On a more optimistic note, the Cavaliers are back, thanks to Evan Mobley. It’s no coincidence that the Cavs lost five straight games with Mobley injured then immediately won their next four games when he came back.
The leading candidate for Rookie of the Year has been better than advertised, filling in the gaps Cleveland needed to become a playoff team. His averages of 14.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks don’t tell the complete story. Mobley has been versatile on defense and intuitive on offense. He’s done everything the Cavs have asked him to do.
Watching Mobley grow is reason enough to tune in to Cleveland games, but they also have other fun pieces in the sharpshooting playmaker Darius Garland, the ravishing Ricky Rubio, and the electric Jarrett Allen. Even Kevin Love has looked frisky in his new role as sixth man. With upcoming games against the Utah Jazz and Milwaukee Bucks, the Cavaliers will continue to be tested.
2. Chicago Bulls
It seemed too good to be true at first, but the Chicago Bulls really look like championship contenders this year.
They are playing great, sitting at second place in the Eastern Conference with a 16-8 record and doing it in style. Having Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso – two defensive hounds and flashy passers – initiating fastbreaks then getting Zach LaVine or Demar DeRozan to finish them off with flashy dunks has been infinitely fun. Having Adam Amin and Stacy King call this resurgence is like putting bacon on mac and cheese.
The East will continue to test these Bulls as they go on the road later this week to face the Cavs and the Miami Heat. As long as they keep pushing the pace on both ends, these Bulls should maintain their position among the crowded Eastern Conference playoff race.
1. Golden State Warriors
You can never go wrong with Steph Curry.
Getting locked up by Mikal Bridges for one game was the lowlight of Curry’s season so far. But that's one bad game out of the 21 he’s played this season. Simply put, if the Warriors are on, they’re always worth a watch, no matter who they’re playing.
Curry is your best bet to do something incredible – like hit 10 3s or drill a no-look 3 – on a game-to-game basis. Add the fact that the Warriors are rolling like their early “Death Five” days and you get some truly spectacular basketball.
Try this exercise for the next time you watch a Warriors game – just observe Steph Curry when he doesn’t have the ball on offense. Watch as he zips around, setting screens and then going through screens to create space for himself or his teammates. Curry with the ball is horrifying for opponents. Curry off the ball makes the smartest NBA defenses look amateur.
If Curry isn’t enough, then let Draymond Green show you his new-and-improved bulldozer approach to basketball. There’s also the refurbished Andrew Wiggins changing his ways fully to fit the Warriors’ egalitarian approach. Gary Payton II and Juan Toscano-Anderson are also good for a highlight once every few games. No one’s playing more entertaining hoops than Golden State.