The 2017-18 NBA season has been nothing short of entertaining, to say the least.
From Cleveland’s early-season struggles that led to a trade deadline splash to Houston’s rise in the Western Conference, it sure has been one hell of a season filled with surprises.
And as the regular season enters its final stretch of games, we give you some of the most surprising developments this season.
Trouble in San Antonio
This year’s San Antonio team isn’t the Spurs we all know.
Lonzo Ball @ZO2_ comes through in the clutch as the @Lakers mount a comeback to defeat the @Spurs 116-112 for their 5th straight win and a perfect 4-0 road trip #nba #lakeshow #cachookamantv pic.twitter.com/BuTRsUAisD
— CaCHooKa Man (@CaCHooKaMan) March 5, 2018
They are the gold standard for building a winning franchise—20 straight playoff appearances and five NBA titles—but they are currently holding the eighth seed and barely clinging to the final postseason spot.
It didn’t help the Spurs that they had some off-court issues with Kawhi Leonard, who played just nine games this year and has not returned since mid-January.
Indiana winning the Paul George trade
— NBA (@NBA) March 10, 2018
Indiana traded Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis last summer. There were no draft picks or future considerations which undoubtedly irked Pacers fans for what seemed to be a one-sided trade.
However, after 69 games, one can just marvel on the exceptional season Indiana is having behind the two. Oladipo was selected an All-Star this year while Sabonis doubled his production from his lone season at Oklahoma, all while helping the Pacers to the third seed in the Eastern conference—ahead of the Cavaliers!
Utah dreaming of a playoff berth
— NBA (@NBA) March 16, 2018
After losing Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics, everybody expected Utah to be a lottery team. However, they proved their doubters wrong as they stay in the hunt for the playoffs.
The team struck gold in the 2017 draft when they selected Donovan Mitchell who now leads all rookies in scoring with 19.8 points per game. Trading for Ricky Rubio also worked wonders for them as the crafty 27-year-old floor general is having the most efficient season of his NBA career.
There’s also Rudy Gobert who continues to be a defensive force, as well as Derrick Favors, Joe Ingles and post-Cavs Jae Crowder who remain as integral parts of the Jazz lineup.
Chris Paul and James Harden working well
— NBA (@NBA) March 7, 2018
When the Houston Rockets acquired Chris Paul from the LA Clippers to pair up with James Harden, there was only one issue that concerned fans and pundits: how can two ball-dominant guards co-exist?
Many thought that the experiment wouldn’t work, but in 42 games that the two played together, the Rockets are 38-4. Harden is averaging 30.9 points and 8.7 assists while Paul is not far off from his usual production with 18.7 points and 8.0 assists.
Portland and Damian Lillard’s rise
— NBA (@NBA) March 10, 2018
Who would have thought that Portland would be third in the competitive Western Conference? Sure, they are a playoff team, but no one in their wildest dreams would have predicted the Blazers to be this high in the standings.
That record was more surprising given that they are coming off a 41-41 season during which they finished eighth.
Damian Lillard has been the biggest revelation as well, with the All-Star guard putting his name in the MVP conversation after leading Portland to 11 straight wins.
*Stats and records are accurate as of March 17 (Manila time)