Team LeBron guard Kyrie Irving (2) shoots during the first half of the NBA basketball All-Star game Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rob Gray)

NBA Season Heating Up: Shuffled Rosters, First Half Analysis and Second Half Preview

Following what many considered to be a disappointing all-star game, the NBA season is set to resume Thursday.

Team LeBron forward LeBron James (6) dunksduring the first half of the NBA basketball All-Star game Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Kyle Terada/Pool Photo via AP)

Throughout the first half, there have been thrills and letdowns all over the league. Some of the major trends and trades could make or break teams’ playoff odds.

Pleasant Surprises

Luck of the Irish

With a core built around young superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, there has been optimism surrounding the Celtics โ€” especially after an NBA Finals appearance last year.

But after former coach Ime Udoka received a season-long suspension, some weren’t sure what to expect from the boys in green this year.

Interim coach Joe Mazzulla took over for Udoka and got off to a dream-like start. He recently got rid of the interim tag and was announced as the 19th head coach in franchise history.

He has led the Celtics to the pinnacle of the Eastern Conference with a record of 42-17.

Kings Crowned

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Western Conference has been the emergence of the Sacramento Kings.

Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox have been electric, with Fox leading the team in scoring and Sabonis leading in boards and assists.

Disappointments

The Warriors’ Fall from Grace

After winning the 2022 NBA Finals, Golden State fans expected greatness this season. Instead, they have been privy to mediocrity.

The Warriors currently sit ninth in the West, and they have been snake-bitten on the road (7-22).

They have the roster to turn things around; the question is if they will.

A Load of Bull

The Bulls have simply made too few deadline moves for a team sitting at the 11 seed in the East. They’re a middle-of-the-pack team who’s lacked chemistry and disappointed considering pre-season expectations.

Impact Trades

The deadline shook up the league, and because it came right before the all-star break, the effects of these trades are still up for interpretation.

Brooklyn Offloading

The Nets had built their core around a couple of superstars โ€” Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving โ€” over the past few years.

By adding these two players to their roster, it appeared they had a win-now mindset. However, after dealing them away (Durant to Phoenix, Irving to Dallas), they’ve taken a more long-term mindset.

They received a plethora of draft picks, as well as Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and a few other young impact players.

The City of Angels

Both LA teams have made significant moves to change their rosters.

One of the biggest headlines for both teams is Russell Westbrook moving from the Lakers to the Clippers. Westbrook will join his former teammate Paul George.

The Lakers have added D’Angelo Russell, bringing him back to the Purple & Gold after drafting him in 2015. They also added Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt.

Looking Ahead

In what is a tightly-contested Western Conference, the difference between the 3-seed and 12-seeds is just 4.5 games.

The Nuggets and Grizzlies have created some separation at the top, but it’s still anyone’s race.

The Eastern Conference, on the other side, is topped by Boston and Milwaukee โ€” who have seemed to separate themselves from the pack.

Moving forward, the Lakers’ and Suns’ roster moves are ones to really watch for in the West. In the East, expect the 76ers and Cavaliers to make pushes for the top, while the Nets may fall out of contention.

About Steven Hieneman

Senior Sports Media/Business Administration dual major at the University of Florida, ESPN Gainesville WRUF sports correspondent.

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