- If you look at the standings in the Eastern Conference the Atlanta Hawks are in the fourth spot with a 19-7 record. They have won three in a row but more importantly they have won 12 of 13. Their defense has been solid moving up to seventh in points allowed. On the offensive end they are second in assists per game and eighth in scoring.
All five starters average at least 10 points per game. Al Horford is slowly getting his form back. He’s averaged 18 and seven rebounds over the last five games. In their last three games the Hawks have beaten the Bulls, Cavaliers and the Rockets. The last two games were on the road and without starting point guard Jeff Teague.
- After years of trade rumors the Boston Celtics finally traded Rajon Rondo. The Dallas Mavericks traded Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright and some draft picks for Rondo. Rondo made his debut on Saturday night against the Spurs finishing with six points, seven rebounds and nine assists. He shot 3-11 from the field and the Mavs got the win.
Without Rondo the Mavs had the number one offense in the league averaging 109.7 points per game. Rondo is an upgrade over Nelson defensively despite his flaws on the offensive end. In the past Rondo has shown the ability to put up big numbers on National TV games in both the regular season and the playoffs. He has championship experience and should help the 20-8 Mavericks move up in the Western Conference.
- The Washington Wizards have won 10 of 12 overall. They have been led by John Wall who is making his case for best point guard in the NBA. In his last five games he is averaging 17.6 ppg and 11.4 apg while shooting 53% from the field and 45% from the three point line. He tied a career high 17 assists on Tuesday in a win over the Timberwolves.
Last season Wall had 29 double-doubles in 82 games. This season he already has 16 in only 25 games which is tied for first in the NBA with LaMarcus Aldridge and Zach Randolph. He’s third in both assists and steals.
- Since returning from injury Russell Westbrook has been phenomenal. The Thunder are 9-3 since Westbrook and Durant returned. Durant suffered a sprained ankle and missed Friday’s game against the Lakers.
Westbrook has scored at scored at least 20 points and dished out six assists in every game since his return. In December he is averaging 28.2 ppg, 7.5 apg, 6.2 rpg and 1.9 stpg.
- From an individual perspective Dwyane Wade has been good since he returned from injury. The Miami Heat have not been winning but Wade looks healthy. He’s averaging 24.6 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.8 rpg on 51% shooting. He put up 42 points in a lost to the Jazz something he hasn’t done since 2012.
- The San Antonio Spurs have dropped four in a row. This team has been banged up recently. Tony Parker has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury. In fact Parker has only played once in their last nine games. Kawhi Leonard has a torn ligament in his right hand and has missed the last three games.
Their last four games have been tough. They lost at Portland, went to triple overtime against the Grizzlies. Followed that up with another triple overtime game against the Blazers and then finished a back-to-back in Dallas. Of course Pop rested Duncan, Ginobili, Green and Splitter against the Mavericks.
The Spurs will be good when they get healthy. At 17-11 they are the seventh seed in the West.
- The Sacramento Kings fired their coach Mike Malone because they were 11-13. The Kings had a winning record with DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins missed 10 games with viral meningitis and the Kings went 2-8 during that span.
Cousins finally returned to put up 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in a lost to the Bucks. The Kings will now have Ty Corbin as an interim coach who has a good reputation as an assistant coach not a head coach.
- In the month of December the Miami Heat are 4-8 dropping their record to 13-15 which is still good enough for seventh in the Eastern Conference. Josh McRoberts is out for the season. Chris Bosh has missed five games in a row with a calf injury and could miss more time.
The Heat’s offensive efficiency has continued to drop and they are last in rebounding. The Heat have a lot of issues and they might need to make some moves. They are not getting consistent help from Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers and Loul Deng.
- Lance Stephenson has not had a big impact in Charlotte. He has missed three straight games with a groin injury. In his last five games he was putting up 5.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg and 1.4 apg on 36% shooting. With Rajon Rondo being traded the Hornets will continue to shop Stephenson. At 8-19 the Hornets might deal him sooner rather than later.
- On December 15 Jabari Parker went down against the Phoenix Suns. He was helped off the court by his teammates. The next day it was reported that Parker will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Parker was starting to play better for the Bucks as he averaged 12 ppg on 49% shooting.
Parker joins the Lakers Julius Randle as high profile rookies that will miss the rest of the season due to injury. Randle broke his leg on opening night.
- The bottom half of the Eastern Conference continues to be bad. There are two teams under .500 that are in the playoffs. The Celtics are four games under .500 and are sitting at eighth and they just traded Rajon Rondo.
The East might have two teams enter the playoffs with losing records. Meanwhile the West has nine teams at or above .500.