Players making three-point shots from everywhere, anytime and by anybody, including the big men.
Floaters and teardrop shots at seemingly impossible angles.
Teammates consciously looking for the open man the way the game is played in Europe.
Blow-bies on the way to the hoop with nary any defense encountered.
Euro steps, step-back jumpers and fadeaways.
Alley-oops and slam dunks dunks during games .
Young and eager players not awed at all competing against superstars and veterans.
Big men bringing down the ball from the other side, playing as if they were their teams’ point guards.
Watch an NBA game and these are the expectations you can have, but you need to watch out, too, for disappointments.
Let us see, what can you say about Golden State, more so with the successful return of Klay Thompson, the Phoenix Suns led by the ageless Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell and Utah, Ja Morant and his Grizzlies, throw in Dallas and Denver in the Western Conference.
While in the Eastern side, the Bulls, Nets, Heat, Bucks, the 76ers, Cavs and Hornets are all up there.
You see, there are different expectations in the NBA as far as teams are concerned. For the teams above, most of them are those expected to make it to the playoffs easily.
Then, there are teams we expected to make it easily, but are so far disappointments, including the Celtics, Hawks, Trailblazers and the Lakers, currently in no. 7, the Knicks and the Clippers.
Of course, there are teams like Magic, Pistons, Rockets, Thunder, Pelicans and the Kings, who do not have any expectations and we share this with them.
But of course, the injuries to players including key players, have taken its toll on a lot of teams, affecting their current and post-season chances.
The fact is, a quick look at the list of injured players will show we can form an All-Star team, maybe even two teams at that.
Imagine players like Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Stephen Curry, Draymond Greene, Jamal Murray, Damian Lillard, Zach Lavine, Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball, Michael PorterJr., Jrue Holiday, Kyle Lowry, John Wall, Derrick Rose, Kemba Walker, Jerami Grant, Marcus Smart, Bogdan Bognanovich, Ricky Rubio, Deandre Ayton, Andre Iguodala, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kelly Oubre Jr , and Victor Oladipo. And this list is not even complete.
Imagine Portland without Lillard, the Lakers without Davis, Houston without Wall, the Nets with no Durant and Kyrie Irving a part time player, and the Clippers without Leonard and George, even the Warriors, if Curry and Green will not be available for a long time. Other teams though are able to adapt with young players coming to fore.
And that is why player trades are supposed to happen and teams will start dealing and wheeling to beat the February 10 deadline, plugging holes in their lineups, letting go of disposable players, or looking ahead even to the far future.
And even if on the injured list, names like Grant, even Lillard, Kevin Love, Marcus Smart, and healthy ones like Russel Westbrook , Dennis Schroder, Wally Beal, and Ben Simmons are among those mentioned.
But I am really impressed with teams like Memphis, Minnesota, Cleveland, Chicago, Charlotte and Washington for being there in the top 10.
These teams are among those who lost badly in the past, but are now winning.
The Bulls benefited the most from their pre-season buildup, getting DeMar deRozan, Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball. Same with the Heat as Lowry joined them, the Wizards got better after unloading Westbrook, the Hornets struck a jackpot with LaMelo Ball, throw in Oubrey Jr., too, while Memphis, Cleveland and Minnesota have all rediscovered the joy of winning.
Biggest busts for me would be the Lakers with their souped-up lineup, but only winning half their games. Okay, without Davis at that, but I do not believe Westbrook fits in with the team. In fact, I do not know where he fits.
Also, I do not like the propensity of the Lakers to go for short cuts and doing away with developing team chemistry.
Boston is another big disappointment with the presence of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Browne that some are questioning if these two can really play together, say the way Rozan and Lavine hit it off in Chicago.
There are a lot more games to be played before the playoffs, and I still would expect to see some changes in the Top 8 for each conference, especially in the 5th to 8th places. The current top 4 teams look like they can retain their standings.
Looking at my crystal ball (yes, I got a new digital one already), I still have to learn how it operates with so many apps and options, so no fearless predictions first, only fearful guesses.
I just hope that locally, the PBA finally gets back on its feet. I understand the league has been given a recommendation to resume and awaits the Inter Agency Task Force approval to resume operations.
And as I have said last year, the pandemic is not the only problem the PBA faces, I wish the league good luck.