With the NBA regular season only having a month left, it is the time when the best and most competitive teams start to separate themselves from the rest. Teams that are grinding for a playoff spot start to go all out, while the teams at the top maybe let off the gas a little bit to rest their stars and prepare for the playoffs.
This is the time of the year when all the games matter and teams grind for more wins. In particular, this stretch of the regular season, along with the playoffs, tends to lead to amped-up defense, much to the fans’ liking. Some teams have made significant strides since the All-Star break, while others have lost their stride.
Arguably the hottest team in the NBA today is the New York Knicks, despite their loss to one of the worst teams in the league, the Charlotte Hornets. They were riding a nine-game win streak before dropping this game at home on March 7th.
Most recently, they have logged wins against the Nets, Heat, and Celtics, which are all playoff-contending teams in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have found their success at a crucial point in this season.
The next hottest team on my list is the Denver Nuggets. They sit alone at the top of the Western Conference, with a cushion between them and the second-place Memphis Grizzlies of seven games.
Denver’s unique style of slower-paced play allows them to dissect their opponent’s defense and easily get open looks. The Nuggets, led by former MVP Nikola Jokic, are easily one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals at the end of the season.
Another team that is hot is the Phoenix Suns. With the recent addition of one of the best scorers in the game, Kevin Durant, they have the potential to make a deep run come playoff time. Adding Durant to a lineup already loaded with stars Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton is dangerous for anyone in the West.
With the Suns riding a three-game win streak, and winning seven out of their last ten, watch for them to continue to climb the standings in the West.
There are some teams who still have something different to play for this season, which is the number one pick in the next NBA draft. After all, with the projected number one player Victor Wembanyama up for grabs, who wouldn’t want him? The 7’2” prospect is considered to be one of the next-best players in the NBA.
The Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, and Charlotte Hornets have the highest chances for the top pick in this year’s draft. These four teams, in particular, are all at least 20 games below .500. With the season coming to a close in a little over a month, these teams will more than likely shift their focus towards a rebuild, starting with the 2023 NBA draft.
As it stands now, the Houston Rockets have the best odds of grabbing the 1st overall pick. Victor Wembanyama, a lengthy PF, would definitely click every box for the Rockets. His skill set is closely matched to the current NBA star and future hall of famer Kevin Durant. He is absolutely worth tanking for this year.