Carmelo Anthony tops list of NBA's biggest first-half surprises
With almost half the season wrapped up, the 2019-2020 NBA campaign has supplied us with plenty of surprises. As the league transitions to uncharted territory, with the trade deadline and All-Star Weekend approaching, let's take a look at some of the most unexpected developments of the season.
The return of Carmelo AnthonyThe strangest subplot in the offseason was Carmelo Anthony’s desperate attempts to return to the NBA, a saga that concluded with Anthony joining the injury-depleted Portland Trail Blazers in November. Although he is past his best, Anthony is doing his part as the Blazers wait for Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic to get healthy.
Anthony is averaging 16 points and six rebounds per game and is shooting 40% from three-point rang, which suggests the reports of his demise were exaggerated. Though Portland’s setbacks may cost it a playoff spot, Anthony’s return is the feel-good development of the season.
Pacers holding down the fortVictor Oladipo is still out, but the Pacers are succeeding against all odds. The Pacers have managed to compile a 23-14 record thanks to the solid play of Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Indy is playing well enough that the team can ease Oladipo back without risking another injury. The Pacers are going to be a team nobody wants to play in the postseason.
Raptors protecting the NorthWhen Kawhi Leonard joined the Clippers, it seemed certain that the Raptors would take a hit a season after they won the NBA title, but reality is stranger than fiction sometimes. Toronto is getting MVP-level play out of Pascal Siakam, solid contributions from OG Anunoby and Chris Boucher, and has a chance of landing Andre Drummond in a trade.
Even if Toronto doesn’t land Drummond, the Raptors have proven they can hold their own and would serve a stern test to even the most well-equipped teams in the playoffs.
Brandon Ingram giving the Pelicans wingsThe Pelicans were an interesting work in progress, after they traded Anthony Davis for the Lakers’ supporting cast and drafted Zion Williamson. Brandon Ingram didn’t get the memo and has been playing incredible basketball, as Williamson nears his regular-season debut after recovering from a torn meniscus.
Ingram is averaging 25.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game this season. Even though Williamson will likely define their season, Ingram’s heroics cannot be ignored.
The Harden-Westbrook tandem hasn’t imploded (yet)Since they split up after being teammates in Oklahoma City, James Harden and Russell Westbrook became elite scorers, and many wondered if either man would relinquish control to the other. The duo is playing incredibly well with the Rockets and contributes an average of 62 points per game.
While the Rockets have regular-season success written all over them, it is yet to be seen if Harden and Westbrook can overcome their playoffs.