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Decoding the NBA's latest surprises

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26th November, 2018

The NBA season is home to a bunch of weird surprises that come out of nowhere, but are the unexpected turns of events we have experienced so far something, nothing or everything?

Something: the Sacramento Kings are good
It seems like the Sydney Kings have been more relevant than the Sacramento Kings for a good while. Sacramento have been the joke of the NBA for the past 12 years and made their last play-off appearance as an eighth seed when they were outed by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.

Since then we have seen them be the kings of the lottery. Aside from having Pick 12 in the 2008 draft, Sacramento have held a top-ten pick every year since 2007. From 12 lottery selections the Kings managed to hit one with DeMarcus Cousins, who they eventually traded to New Orleans in 2017.

It seems like after all these years spent being the punching bag of the league, the Kings are ready to give their fans some value in the tickets they buy. This isn’t everything, but it is something, as their recent motivation to win games is predominantly due to two major reasons:

  1. they don’t have their pick in next year’s draft, so there’s no incentive to tank; and
  2. they have good players instead of intriguing prospects.

Both De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are having breakout seasons for the Kings, averaging career highs across the board. Fox has become a lightning-fast and polarising player and Hield has combined his knockdown shooting with the ability to create his own shot. The two have combined for a deadly backcourt and something to look out for in the future.

However, the Kings could also have had the likely rookie of the year, Luka Doncic, with the No.2 overall they held – although, being a 19-year-old rookie, he is no doubt a professional and would have added a lot to the Kings young core. That is no knock on the second overall selection, Marvin Bagley, who is a player with a tonne of upside, but I can’t see him being a franchise player like Donicic.


Everything: Boston’s struggles
The Celtics have run into the ‘too many good players’ problem, and this problem is real. We saw them go one game away from the finals without their two all-stars in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and we automatically assumed they were coming out of the east this season. This was a unanimous opinion until we saw the arrival of the Milwaukee Bucks under Mike Budenholzer and the really good team that is the Toronto Raptors.

Brad Stevens is no doubt a great coach, but this is his toughest assignment so far. Chemistry plays a major role in success, and bad chemistry is a product of having too many good players, all with big egos. On paper the more good players you have, the better, but there is only a certain number of minutes to go around. It’s only a matter of time before a spark turns into a fire and leaves everything Danny Ainge has accomplished in ashes.

Anything less than the finals is an unsuccessful season for the Celtics, and that is becoming an increasingly likely outcome, especially considering they will need to go through a tough eastern conference to get there. The Bucks, 76ers, Raptors, Pacers and even Pistons are not to be thrown under the bed.

Something: Kevin Durant and the Warriors
If Kevin Durant were to confirm he was leaving the Warriors in free agency, it would be absolutely everything, as it would shake the entire league. The recent drama leaves big question marks over Durant’s looming free agency – but the Warriors are as professional as you can get, and it’s hard to imagine him leaving that franchise, especially with multiple rings on the line.

An unidentified player has said the outcome of the Draymond Green-Keving Durant beef will be that “there is already no way Durant is coming back”, and David West provided some interesting insight about the Warriors locker room last season, but Durant believes he has ended this drama and is entirely focused on the Warriors.

Kevin Durant dribbles the ball.

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Everything: The revival of Derrick Rose
It’s not like Derrick Rose being a good player again shakes up the league and makes the Minnesota Timberwolves championship contenders, but this is everything for the deeper NBA fan who saw Derrick Rose fall from grace like a loose boulder.


The plague of injuries and rehab this man had to endure is heartbreaking, especially considering the future everyone had expected of him after his historic season in 2011, not to mention the doubters who said he is a below-average NBA player (Charles Barkley).

Seeing Rose drop 50 on the Jazz was the best feel-good story I can remember, and he has shown it wasn’t a one-game wonder, putting up nearly 20 points per game and currently leading the sixth-man-of-the-year race. Wouldn’t it be crazy to see last year’s MVP be a former sixth-man trophy holder and a former MVP go to a sixth-man winner?

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Nothing: Markelle Fultz is probably out of Philadelphia
Although this may be something for the front office, as it would no doubt sting like a blue bottle, parting ways with the No.1 pick they virtually traded Jayson Tatum for a little over a year ago needs to be done. But this is nothing in the bigger pool of the NBA and the 76ers’ plans for victory.


Fultz makes the 76ers worse when he is on the court, and with the recent addition of Jimmy Butler, the process if officially over. It’s time to stop saying that Philly will be really good soon – the 76ers are on the clock, not for another draft selection but for a championship.