Editor’s note: Kyle Mangelson is a sophomore at St. Helena High School and a diehard basketball fan. His love for the NBA sparked an idea to create an Instagram account, @the.hoops.wire, which features original content and has gained more than 23,000 followers. “The Hoops Wire” will feature his commentary on the Warriors and the NBA, as a whole, as the season takes shape in the new year.
Kemba Walker, ladies, and gentlemen is having himself the season of a lifetime. Throughout his career, Walker has been known as a hyped-up player who never reached his true potential. Well, this season he has proved doubters wrong and is really turning heads. On Nov. 17 Walker scored 60 points in a loss to the 76ers in overtime. To be fair, Jimmy Butler hit a crazy step back three-pointer to win it, but it just goes to show that Walker needs help! The very next game, Kemba logged a 47-point game, too. This has been an incredible start to the season for Walker, which has got me thinking of all the possibilities if Walker wasn’t on the dysfunctional organization that is the Hornets. They are the definition of mediocre. They can beat teams that are over .500, yet the Hornets stay right at that mark, (As of Tuesday, they are 11-12 on the season). If Hornets’ owner Michael Jordan and the front office can somehow work some magic, and possibly land an all-star caliber player like the Wizards’ Bradley Beal, I believe that can make some serious damage in the East, especially with LeBron James gone.
The Warriors went on a bit of a cold streak with Stephen Curry out with an injury, once again proving just how valuable he is to the franchise. During the 12-game span with Curry out, the Warriors went 5-7. Curry is without a doubt, the most important player to this Warriors core, and has been for the last six or seven years. Even with Steph out for these 12 games, there were some benefits to his absence. Some of the backups got more opportunities to prove themselves, like Quinn Cook, Damion Lee and Kevon Looney. Most importantly, Kevin Durant had a huge stretch, going three straight games with 40-plus point performances, including a 51-point game against the Raptors, (to whom the Warriors lost to in overtimes). Although some of the Warriors players stepped up tremendously, they still went 5-7. If the Warriors kept that pace all season, they wouldn't be a playoff team. I think this really showed Durant what life would be like if he left the Warriors, which has been a storyline all year since he can opt out of his contract at the end of the season. Hopefully for Warriors fans, this rough patch in the season persuades Durant to re-sign with the Warriors. I doubt he wants his legacy to be ruined by failing to make the playoffs because he couldn’t lead a team on his own.
The most surprising team this season is easily the Los Angeles Clippers. Currently tied for first in the Western Conference, they came out of absolutely nowhere. I think the reason this team was such a surprise to everyone is simply the fact that they have little to no star power on their roster. Their play style relies heavily on grit, hard work and extra effort. What makes this work is that they have the perfect players for this style with players like Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley and Montrezl Harrell who has stepped up in a huge way this season. Harrell has become one of my favorite players to watch because of how beastly he is, which has led to a lot of the success for his team. Likely their best player at the moment is Tobias Harris, since guard Lou Williams has had a rather underwhelming performance, averaging 17 points on 39 percent shooting from the field. I’ve always been a big fan of Harris. He is one of the few players in this league who can get your team a bucket whether it’s from mid-range or in isolation.
Now that the Wizards have gotten off to probably the worst start imaginable, it looks like their front office is looking to throw it all away. Recently, they put their entire roster on the trade block. As mentioned before, the most intriguing rumor, in my eyes, is the ‘Bradley Beal to Charlotte’ rumors. Even the thought of Kemba Walker teaming up with a player that is decent at the very least excites me. As much as I think that the Wizards can pull it together, I just hate watching star players have their talents wasted on a team that simply can’t win.
One more topic I wanted to touch on was rookie Trae Young. If I’m being honest, when will the excuses end? It seems like Young always has a reason why he does something wrong, yet he is constantly compared to Stephen Curry and praised for his shooting highlights. Trae is averaging 15 points on a pathetic 37 percent from the field and 24 percent from three, as well as four turnovers per game. He’s led the Hawks to a terrible 5-19, one of the worst records in the NBA. I’m not hating on the kid, I loved watching him in Oklahoma and still have high hopes for him. It just isn’t looking too bright at the moment, and I truly hope he can prove me wrong.