"The best way to predict your future is to create it." Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln High School Statesman

"The best way to predict your future is to create it." Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln High School Statesman

"The best way to predict your future is to create it." Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln High School Statesman

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2024 NFL Mock Draft

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April 16, 2024

In 2018, Statesman Editor Slater Dixon published an article called “Whatever… let's rank the sports.” It has been over four years since...

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April 14, 2024

This past Monday afternoon, people across the country put on their protective glasses and got ready to watch the second total solar eclipse visible...

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2024 NFL Mock Draft

2024 NFL Mock Draft

April 22, 2024

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April 16, 2024

In 2018, Statesman Editor Slater Dixon published an article called “Whatever… let's rank the sports.” It has been over four years since...

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April 14, 2024

This past Monday afternoon, people across the country put on their protective glasses and got ready to watch the second total solar eclipse visible...

Contenders vs pretenders using the 40-20 rule

Back in the day, Hall of Fame basketball coach Phil Jackson presented his 40-20 theory. The theory said that if a team can reach 40 wins before they reach 20 losses, then they are a true championship contender. And, in the years since 1990, there have been only four teams to win the championship without hitting 40-20: the 1995 Houston Rockets, the 2004 Detroit Pistons, the 2006 Miami Heat (who were 39-20) and the 2021 Milwaukee Bucks. Using this rule at the All-Star break, the  contenders can be separated from the pretenders. 

Currently, only two teams in the Eastern Conference are still “eligible” to be true contenders by this rule. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been somewhat of a surprise this season, boasting their best start to a season so far since LeBron James left the franchise in the summer of 2018. Despite their wealth of talent, with players like All-Star SG Donovan Mitchell, PG Darius Garland and C Jarrett Allen, they are a relatively young team that will be beat by a more experienced playoff team like the Bucks.

Eastern Conference standings after the end of the All-Star break.

On the other hand, the Boston Celtics are where many said they would be. Led by the duo of the two J’s (All-Star SF Jayson Tatum and All-Star SG Jaylen Brown) along with newer acquisitions like PG Jrue Holiday, they will be a force in the East. With playoff experience, having gone to the NBA Finals in 2022 and falling one game short of repeating as Eastern Conference champions in 2023, there is no question they are prepared. Along with the fact that the C’s will more than likely have home-court advantage through the playoffs, they are serious contenders that will make the NBA Finals.

In the Western Conference, as of Feb. 14, there are four “contenders.”

The Minnesota Timberwolves were another surprise of this season, having their best start to a season of all time. Their combination of youth and energy with All-Star SG Anthony Edwards and fan-favorite C Naz Reid, and older, more experienced players such as All-Star C Karl-Anthony Towns and C Rudy Gobert has made them exciting to watch as well as adding up to the best defense in the NBA this season, only allowing an average of 107 points per game. Despite this, they, as a team, have such little playoff experience that they will be taken out of the playoffs by a more seasoned team like the Nuggets.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are in a similar situation to the Timberwolves. They are a young team (that also has an incredible amount of draft picks in the next couple of years). Their young core of All-Star PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, F Jaylin Williams, F Jalen Williams and PF Chet Holmgren has them surging in the standings. Gilgeous-Alexander is an MVP contender right now, and they might have the brightest future in the whole league. Their youth is also their problem, as their inexperience will cost them just like the T-Wolves, and they will fall to a team like the Clippers or Suns.

The Los Angeles Clippers are an interesting team. LA has all the star power any team could want, with two All-Stars, F Paul George and F Kawhi Leonard, with former MVPs SG James Harden and PG Russell Westbrook filling out the backcourt. This is the first Leonard-led Clippers squad that has been mostly healthy, as many of their stars in the past have missed major stretches of the season with injuries, severely affecting their championship aspirations. This inconsistency will eventually cost them, as they will come very close to the finals but ultimately lose to the Nuggets.

Western Conference standings at the end of the All-Star break.

The defending champion Denver Nuggets are in a great position to repeat as champions. Two-time MVP and All-Star Nikola Jokic, with PG Jamal Murray and SF Michael Porter Jr. by his side went all the way last year, cruising to a championship in the NBA Finals against the eight-seed Miami Heat. With their playoff experience and astoundingly deep team and bench, they will repeat as Western Conference champions.

That leaves the Nuggets and the Celtics in the Finals. Despite currently having the best record in the Association, the two J’s lack of postseason consistency will cost them, as they will lose in the Finals for the second time in three years, crowning the Nuggets repeat champions.

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About the Contributor
James Plorde
James Plorde, Staff Writer
James Plorde is a junior, first-year staff writer for the Statesman at LHS. He is the number one Seattle sports fan, and at LHS, he is involved in Spanish Immersion. When Plorde is not at LHS, he enjoys hooping in his driveway, making sure his lawn is in great shape and hanging out with friends.
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