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As the NBA season begins to reach its conclusion, basketball fans have been treated to an intense few months, and plenty of action as normality looks to resume at the end of the coronavirus pandemic. Just a year ago we were seeing games held behind closed doors, travel being restricted and interest in the sport at the lowest it’s been in years, but with the return of fans courtside and the games flowing as usual, the entertainment has almost been amped up a notch this season, with players looking like they’re giving it their all despite so many games in quick succession.
The Championship is proving increasingly hard to pick a winner in, and while Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors went into this one as the favourites for the majority of people who bet on NBA, the Boston Celtics are looking for a first title since 2008 and won’t go down without a fight. The franchise is enjoying their best season for years and finally have a roster worthy of competing, with forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown forming a deadly attacking alliance.
Fine margins look to decide this one and while the Celtics have been on fire, some of the leagues other forwards will be looking on in envy that they aren’t in contention for the coveted trophy at this stage of the season. But where do the likes of Tatum and Brown compare to the rest of the trailing pack? Read on, as we take a look at three of the best forwards this season in the NBA.
Where else to start but the Greek freak Giannis Antetokounmpo. After almost singlehandedly carrying the Milwaukee Bucks to last year’s Championship, winning the MVP in the process, the 27-year-old has continued his fine form this season, although his team have struggled to rekindle that same cohesion that saw them beat the Phoenix Suns 12 months ago. Antetokounmpo has hinted that he would take a sabbatical at some point in the near future and another underwhelming season could well force the Greek into an early exile.
‘If I take a year off, what would I do?’ he asked. ‘I would disappear. I would go to an island in Greece, stay with my family and disappear for a year.
‘I’m being serious.’
Let’s flashback to the 2021 Allstar game — cutting to a frustrated figure of Kevin Durant as his team lost to Lebron James in an extraordinarily ordinary performance. Having jumped ship from Golden State to the Brooklyn Nets in 2019, Durant took his time to adjust to the new surroundings, and COVID certainly didn’t help. But he looks to have found his feet again now, as the 2014 MVP averaged almost 30 points per game throughout the season, a much-improved return that the Nets should be rewarded for by showing their patience. The 33-year-old has been a figure of consistency and he’ll need to replicate that in the hopes of going further in next year’s playoffs.
Despite the New Orleans Pelicans having a tough season in terms of results, Zion Williamson was a shining light in an otherwise frustrating few months, as Willie Green’s side finished eighth in the Western Conference. From an individual point of view though, 21-year-old Williamson enjoyed another breakout year as he quickly establishes himself as one of the best forwards in the league. Only Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davies outperformed him in the closing games of the season, but with so much experience at such a young age, expect big things from Zanos in the future with his best years ahead of him.