It was only a matter of time before Klay Thompson was going to remind us all why he’s one of the best at scoring in bunches.
Having spent the past two-plus seasons sidelined with injuries, no one knew for sure how long it would take before he was back to doing Klay Thompson-like things such as scoring lots of points in quick bursts.
The Sacramento Kings found this out recently when Thompson made his first seven shots from the field, totaling 20 points in just 10 minutes of court time.
That is Klay Thompson at his best, which is why Thompson rounding into form so quickly is reason enough to understand why the Warriors remain a mainstay in every conversation that focuses on who will win it all in the NBA this season.
They have experience, depth and talent. Throw in Thompson, arguably the best in the NBA at scoring in short put powerful waves, you have the key ingredients for a successful franchise.
But as good as they are, the Warriors aren’t alone when it comes to being among the tougher teams to beat in the NBA this season.
Here’s my Super 7 list of top teams in the NBA this season.
PHOENIX SUNS (41-10)
They have the league’s record and a roster composed of all the key players in a team that advanced to the NBA Finals a year ago. Chris Paul continues to defy Father Time and play at a high level despite being one of the league’s oldest players. And Devin Booker’s evolution as more than just a scorer but a playmaker whose defense has shown tremendous growth…they are going to be a tough out, come playoff time.
2. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (40-13)
Of all the revelations we have seen from the Warriors this season, there may not be any bigger than the play of Andrew Wiggins. The former No. 1 overall pick has put together his best season ever, and has been rewarded with his first All-Star selection. His improved play combined with a roster full of All-Stars and players on the rise, has the Warriors firmly entrenched as one of the odds-on favorites to win it all this season.
3. MIAMI HEAT (33-20)
The one team that has been consistently good despite there being very little buzz or fanfare about their play, is the Miami Heat. This team embodies who their leaders are, both on the court (Jimmy Butler) and off (head coach Erik Spoelstra). Both are committed to putting in the work and in doing so, pushing those around them to push themselves to be better from one day to the next. It doesn’t always look pretty, but the results are undeniable. The Miami Heat are one of the stronger teams in the East, and a viable threat to get to the NBA Finals.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (36-19)
Ja Marant being named an All-Star was a given this season. There have been many nights when his play has single-handedly allowed the Grizzlies to compete and in many instances, win games. But the X-factor for them has been Desmond Bane who should be on everyone’s short-list for the league’s Most Improved Award. He has been that good, all season.
5. CHICAGO BULLS (32-19)
The belief was that Chicago would be better this season, but few envisioned they would be in the thick of the race for the best record in the East. They are mere percentage points (.627 versus .623) ahead of Miami for the best record in the East. They have both an all-star starter (DeMar DeRozan) and reserve (Zach LaVine).
6. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (31-20)
There are a handful of teams ahead of the Sixers in the overall NBA standings, but for them to even be in the conversation as one of the top teams in the East, is impressive. Joel Embiid has delivered another MVP-esque season, but credit has to be given to Doc Rivers for not just keeping things afloat amid the Ben Simmons drama, but finding a path towards success despite playing all season without your second-best player. Sometimes people forget that Doc Rivers is one of the winningest coaches in NBA history. You don’t rack up all those victories with different teams and players, and not know what you’re doing.
7. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (31-21)
Like so many in the NBA and outside of the NBA, I have been slow to warm up to this Cleveland Cavaliers team. But I’m here to tell you what they already know. The Cavs are legit. Not legit to make the playoffs, but actually show up and then show out and win a few games and a series or two. They could still use a veteran or two on the wing, particularly as a defender, but the pieces they have in place right now should be good enough for them to, at a minimum, get out of the first round of the playoffs.