A Look at Pro Basketball's Highs and Lows

By Fred Bowen
Thursday, February 19, 2009

The All-Star Game and more than half of the National Basketball Association (NBA) season are over. So it's a good time to check in on pro hoops.

The NBA season has featured some super teams and some not-so-super teams. Three teams are winning close to 80 percent of their games. That's great. Others, including the Washington Wizards, are hardly winning at all.

Super Teams: The defending champion Boston Celtics are still the team to beat. Boston's "big three" -- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen -- are enjoying all-star seasons. Point guard Rajon Rondo is becoming one of the league's best playmakers. If the Celtics stay healthy, they have a good chance to get back to the finals and defend their crown.

Boston had better watch out for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. James is putting up his usual eye-popping statistics, scoring 28.5 points a game while grabbing 7.5 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists. But this year, James has better teammates. Point guard Mo Williams is an all-star, while center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and shooting guard Delonte West are chipping in with crucial points.

Still, the key to the Cavaliers' big improvement this season is that they are playing terrific defense. Cleveland is giving up only 91 points a game. That's the lowest average in the NBA.

The Los Angeles Lakers are the best in the West. Kobe Bryant, who scores more than 27 points a game, leads the high-flying, high-scoring Lakers offense. Forwards Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are among the league's most talented and versatile big men.

It's a shame that the Lakers' young center, Andrew Bynum, hurt his knee a couple of weeks ago in a collision with teammate Bryant. The 21-year-old Bynum was becoming a force underneath the basket for Los Angeles. If he can recover for the playoffs, the Lakers will be hard to stop.

Not-So-Super Teams: The Washington Wizards have the worst record in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards are so bad that they could win their remaining 28 games and still have a losing record. Washington probably will battle the sad-sack Sacramento Kings for the NBA's worst record.

I know the Wizards have been hurt by season-long injuries to guard Gilbert Arenas and center Brendan Haywood, but should they be this bad?

At least forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler are setting a good example for kids who play hoops. Even though the season is a lost cause , Jamison and Butler are still playing hard. I bet Coach Ed Tapscott wishes he could pour some of that pride and professional attitude into some of his other players. Maybe then the Wizards could be one of the NBA's super teams.

Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is an author of sports novels for kids.

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