Hardwood Hypothesis week 15 

The Beam is lit!

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Erick’s Hardwood Hypothesis digs in to the best NBA storylines every week.

ERICK AGUILAR, Evergreen reporter

Another week and another issue, without further adieu, welcome to Hardwood Hypothesis week 15.

THE BEAM IS LIT – Sacramento Kings 

The first thing that got my attention moving into this week was the Kings overtaking the Pelicans in the West. The Kings went on a six-game win streak led by their ferocious leader De’Aaron Fox. 

On paper, these teams seem to stack up pretty evenly against each other. But on the floor, I do think the Kings’ level of play is more disciplined. The Pelicans will not be able to operate if Zion Williamson can not get into the paint. 

The fact that Fox is not only the lead scorer but also the point guard makes him a player that requires much more effort to slow down. 

I love this Kings team. There is so much underdog potential here. And for a city like Sacramento to get behind them would do wonders. 

On paper, a few teams SHOULD be above them in the standings such as the Suns, Mavericks and Clippers. But this Kings team is rolling with what they have. This is a great time to be a Kings fan and see what this team’s foundation will lead to in the following seasons. 

Their streak was cut short by the 76ers Saturday night. However, the silver lining here is that the team only lost by 2 points. Squaring off with a team like the 76ers who are second in the east, is no easy feat. 

Needless to say, it will be great to see this team compete for the rest of the season. 

Hooping in Paris 

“There has never been a better time to be a fan of the NBA in Europe than right now, and part of it is that we are able to distribute the games and our stories, both via broadcast and online,” said Ralph Rivera, the NBA’s editor for Europe and the Middle East. 

The Bulls and Pistons met in this year’s Paris game, a trend that started 45 years ago. The NBA only has one game in Europe each season so this performance brought a lot of spectators. 

The Bulls bested the Pistons 126-108 led by the explosive Zach LaVine. 

The world is getting smaller and the league keeps gaining more and more international talent. This game alone featured many non-American-born athletes, including Nikola Vucevic from Switzerland, Goran Dragić from Slovenia and Bojan Bogdanović from Bosnia. 

“There is so much content that is available, but in particular, the fact there are so many successful and MVP-caliber players from Europe in the NBA obviously increases the interest,” Rivera said.

The NBA has hosted 200 events across 20 different countries, the first of which was in 1978 in Israel. This Paris game is the first international game since the pandemic. 

Houston, we have a problem 

Rockets legacy be damned, this organization has certainly seen better days. The Rockets are 10-36 this season with a 13-game losing streak. James Harden is out and the team lost its most lethal weapon. 

Any story about this team has them involved as a subheading. They are the team that gets creamed by some star player or team. Whether it be Anthony Edwards, LeBron or the Clippers.

This team lacks direction, veteran leadership and a deep roster. 

Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Sengun have bright futures, but not on this team. In my opinion, these young and dynamic players could play an impact as a reliable six-man or project pick on another team. 

The Rockets need to make a coaching change and get some better veteran leaders on this team to start a turnaround. 

With about a month left until the trade deadline, I can’t help but imagine the team will trade away some talent in return for draft picks. I really do not see this team trading for a veteran leader at this point in the season. 

Player of the week 

Josh Okogie is this week’s player of the week after putting up a stellar 24 and 10 performance with four blocks to help his team pull out the victory against the Pacers. 

Players like Okogie just prove how deep this Suns roster really goes. He averages just 13 minutes and five points a game so Saturday certainly saw a big performance from him. 

The 24-year-old from Georgia Tech was drafted 20th in the first round of the 2018 draft. I do not foresee him getting a much bigger role on the team but I hope I am wrong. Who knows, under the leadership of his teammates and coach Monty Williams there is definitely room for improvement and enhanced responsibility.

Credit to Okogie, the Suns’ roster is one of the most competitive in the league, so any contribution to the team is impressive.

Another eye-catching week of NBA basketball lies ahead of us and I cannot wait to discuss the headlines with you again.