The emergence of the dynamic Ja Morant without question makes the Grizzlies a team to watch down the stretch. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It has been all about top-end contenders around the NBA this season. Most would love to see the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the Finals.

However, there’s a number of under-the-radar teams who have proven themselves to be must-watch television.

Rookies Ja Morant and Zion Williamson have led their respective squads into playoff contention. Another team back East in that of the Miami Heat is playing great ball.

These are among the four teams we should be paying attention to as the 2019-20 NBA season comes to a culmination here soon.

Memphis Grizzlies 

If nothing else, the idea of watching rookie Ja Morant blossom into a star has to be appealing to the common NBA fan. Morant is out here worrying more about getting his team into playoff positioning than any individual award. That tells us what we need to know about the rookie No. 2 overall pick.

From a team-wide perspective, Memphis is currently the eighth seed in the Western Conference with a 31-31 record. It won a total of 33 games a season ago. That just goes to show us how well first-year head coach Taylor Jenkins has performed in his new role.

With a whopping 16 of their final 21 games against current playoff teams, these Grizzlies are nothing less than must-watch NBA TV down the stretch.


Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo (13) celebrates after a basket with forward Jimmy Butler (22) and guard Kendrick Nunn (25) against the Atlanta Hawks. Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat

Currently sitting at 40-22 on the season, Erik Spoelstra‘s squad is challenging both Toronto and Boston for a top-two seed in the Eastern Conference. Not a single soul outside of South Beach saw this coming to fruition at the start of the season.

Recent struggles in Miami gave way to an electric win over the Milwaukee Bucks earlier in the week. This proves that the Heat are for real when it comes to the Eastern Conference title race.

The draw outside of surprise contention are youngsters Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. Could they be the driving force in South Beach moving forward? It’s certainly something to keep an eye on down the stretch.


New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson prior to tip off against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Smoothie King Center.  Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Pelicans

Star forward Zion Williamson is in the midst of an historical start to his rookie season. The generational talent just went tit-for-tat with LeBron James this past weekend and has been absurd since returning from injury. Williamson is averaging 24.0 points on 58% shooting from the field in 17 games. It has his Pelicans right on the fringe of the eighth seed out West.

I am highly intrigued to see how this entire race plays out. Williamson potentially going up against Morant for the right to take on James and the Lakers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Who could have drawn it up any better?

The backdrop here is a Pelicans squad that is loaded up and down its roster. Youngster Brandon Ingram is coming off his first ever All-Star appearance. Lonzo Ball has upped his game big time since Williamson’s return. It’s now must-watch basketball in the Bayou less than a year after the entire Anthony Davis drama.


Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) and Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) celebrate during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks 

Despite some recent struggles with injuries, it’s been the Luka Doncic Show in Big D. The second-year wing is averaging a near triple-double (28.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.8 assists). That alone, makes the Mavericks a must-watch squad down the stretch.

Though, it’s the recent performance of Kristaps Porzingis in the blocks that has Dallas thinking it can make a run. The fourth-year big is finally living up to expectations, averaging north of 27 points over the past 12 games. If he can keep it up, these Mavs are going to be a force moving forward.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.


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MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Can you name every No. 1 overall NBA draft pick in the lottery era?
SCORE:
0/35
TIME:
5:00
2019 / NO
Zion Williamson
2018 / PHX
Deandre Ayton
2017 / PHI
Markelle Fultz
2016 / PHI
Ben Simmons
2015 / MIN
Karl-Anthony Towns
2014 / CLE
Andrew Wiggins
2013 / CLE
Anthony Bennett
2012 / NO
Anthony Davis
2011 / CLE
Kyrie Irving
2010 / WAS
John Wall
2009 / LAC
Blake Griffin
2008 / CHI
Derrick Rose
2007 / POR
Greg Oden
2006 / TOR
Andrea Bargnani
2005 / MIL
Andrew Bogut
2004 / ORL
Dwight Howard
2003 / CLE
LeBron James
2002 / HOU
Yao Ming
2001 / WAS
Kwame Brown
2000 / NJ
Kenyon Martin
1999 / CHI
Elton Brand
1998 / LAC
Michael Olowokandi
1997 / SA
Tim Duncan
1996 / PHI
Allen Iverson
1995 / GSW
Joe Smith
1994 / MIL
Glenn Robinson
1993 / ORL
Chris Webber
1992 / ORL
Shaquille O'Neal
1991 / CHA
Larry Johnson
1990 / NJ
Derrick Coleman
1989 / SAC
Pervis Ellison
1988 / LAC
Danny Manning
1987 / SA
David Robinson
1986 / CLE
Brad Daugherty
1985 / NYK
Patrick Ewing

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