As we have now surpassed our FIFTIETH ARTICLE on HoopsNations.com, there’s no better way to be thankful for the hard work we’ve put in to keep this thing afloat!

In this column, I’d like to give out my top five wishes of what I’m thankful for, and what I think will be better as 2016 enters it’s final stages.

The NBA has now reached fifteen games — and we, as NBA fans, have a LOT to be thankful for! We hope you have more room on your plate. Because it’s time to dig in!

 

1. KEVIN DURANT AND THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS.

Let’s be truly honest, here. Many of us expected an entirely different start, or rather a severe amount of growing pains for this year’s Warriors.

Sure, we saw some of early faults — where Golden State lost their first regular-season game against the San Antonio Spurs — losing 129-100 at home. They then fell-flat to the well-improved Los Angeles Lakers, on a 117-97 road-loss.

But since then, the Warriors haven’t looked back, winning their last ten games.

New superstar-acquisition Kevin Durant has looked overwhelmingly comfortable with his new team. In 15 games, he’s putting up 27.0 points a game, 8.1 total rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks. Let’s not forget the remarkable shooting numbers of 57% from the field, 42% from three, and an effective field-goal percentage of 63%.

It’s been a joy to see Durant this happy, and you can tell that he’s a much smarter player than in any past season he’s had.

2. JOEL “THE PROCESS” EMBIID AND THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS.

He’s here! After two long seasons, he’s finally here!

Philadelphia 76ers rookie Joel Embiid has proven that not only is he running away with the Rookie of the Year award early on, but he’s running into new heights as already one of the more imposing talents of the league.

I’m thankful for Joel, because not only has he delivered us some “processable” type of plays, but he’s been a rare diamond in the sticky mud. He has all of the makings to be one of the most talented Centers the league has ever seen (i.e. Hakeem Olajuwon, who he’s drawn so many similarities to).

Sixers’ fans know that they’re still a few seasons (or more) from competing in the Eastern Conference, but once they unleash their 2016 #1 overall pick Ben Simmons, we could really be looking at a competitive Sixers team with another great versatile ball-handler added into the mix of things. But at the helm of it all, I believe Joel will be their most important (and complete) player once this roster is healthy.

In 11 games this season, Embiid has been absolutely impactful getting his feet wet. He’s averaging neally eighteen points a game, seven boards, and about two-and-a half blocks per-contest. He has shown signs of struggles, however, as he’s committed more than four turnovers a game, including 3.5 personal fouls.

It truly is a process, as Embiid is facing a minutes-cap and even included “rest” of back-to-backs. But when he’s playing, the game changes for Philadelphia. There’s no need to rush him on the court, either. Just get him used to playing certain stretches, and become comfortable to the NBA, and that’s exactly Sixers’ coach Brett Brown’s idea.

The Sixers are undoubtedly thankful that their 21 year-old Center is processing well to start the season. And they should be.

3. KEVIN LOVE AND THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS.

The reigning defending champions of the National Basketball Association have played as well as any other team this year.

And you know what’s been the best part? They’ve slowly gotten better, and the pressure of them doing it all again in June isn’t as high.

We look at teams such as the Warriors and Clippers, as they’ve gotten off to great starts, currently having the best records in the entire league. I’m thankful for Cleveland not only because of their prolonged growth team-wise, but particularly — Kevin Love’s fit with the team.

It seemed that all last year (and even much of the year prior), Love was pretty much the “odd-man out” in Cleveland, but little did we know, he’d be their most important player.

Love has survived from all the trade rumors and slander on his performances this season. He’s looked phoenomial — with averages of 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds on 46% shooting from the field and 37% from three. All are highs in his three-year stint with Cleveland.

And to mention that 34-point first-quarter along with 8 threes, proves that he isn’t going anywhere.

4. JAMES HARDEN AND THE HOUSTON ROCKETS.

I am absolutely thankful for what The Beard has eclipsed into. Not only has he ended the debate as the best Shooting Guard in the NBA, but now he’s closing-in on the best Point Guard conversation.

All I know is this — he’s doing it all right now.

Harden is killing it with 28.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and a league-leading 12.5 assists per game. As the Rockets are currently 9-6, James has been able to completely have control of this teams’ offense.

New weapons? New Role? Nothing else really needed to say, here.

5. HASSAN WHITESIDE AND THE MIAMI HEAT.

As it’s been, so far, a very-slow start for the rebuilding Heat organization, their 4-year, $98-million franchise player (yeah, I said that) Hassan Whiteside, has given Heat fans something to be thankful for this season.

It’s been two years now since Hassan first put on a Heat uniform, after spending much of his time bouncing around not just the NBA, but a good part of the globe. You know his story, and he’s living the dream right now. He’s shown so much growth and improvement since his breakout-game against Chicago in late-January of 2015, where he proved the league that “Ain’t nobody doing it with Blocks.”

Whiteside has been a monster this year, with averages of 17.9 points, 15.4 rebounds (league-best), 0.9 steals, and 2.6 blocks on 54% on shots.

Even with the Heat struggling, Hassan has given fans hope to continue watching and supporting.

We hope you fans here at Hoops Nation have a very safe holiday season — as there is much more to come!

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