It's late December, the perfect time to do some good old reflecting. This isn't the place for soul-searching or resolutions, so what follows is a look at what we have learned about the NBA so far this season.

A top-heavy league is not a bad thing

I'm watching NBA League Pass right now, but part of me wants to turn this game off and take another look at the Cleveland Cavaliers' one-point win against the Golden State Warriors from Christmas Day. Like last year's NBA Finals, this slugfest somehow managed to exceed the hype. It had the intensity, it had the incredible finish and it had an old guy dunking like it's 2004 again, literally.

This rivalry's greatness isn't just about tombstone cookies. There are seven All-Stars on these two rosters, and anytime either team is held under 110 points -- as they both were on Christmas -- it should be seen as a minor miracle. The Cavs and Warriors have both been about as dominant as expected through two months of the season, with Kevin Durant and Love both playing as efficiently as ever before. While a third straight meeting in the Finals seems inevitable, who is complaining about that? I'd watch these teams play a 77-game series.

Russell Westbrook is your favorite solo artist

When James Harden referred to the Oklahoma City Thunder as a "one-man show," he left out the fact that it's one of the best shows around. Westbrook has been one of the league's finest players for years now, but what he's done without Kevin Durant this season is on another level. The man is leading the league in scoring, averaging a triple-double and capable of dropping 51 points, 22 assists or 17 rebounds on any given night.

Westbrook's season has felt like one long, furious, two-handed dunk. His effectiveness, though, isn't about pure aggression. Without much playmaking help, Westbrook has made his teammates better by bending opposing defenses to his will. Critics can still point to his shot selection and efficiency numbers, but the Thunder are competing because he is as dangerous as anybody with the ball in his hands. Buy a ticket if you can.

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are both thriving. USATSI

The Beard and D'Antoni can cook together

Watching the Houston Rockets makes me want every star player to spend a few years with Mike D'Antoni. In this system, with shooters spacing the floor, Harden is as much of a maestro as Steve Nash was.

When he signed his extension last summer, Harden's letter to Rockets fans mentioned that they're not a super team. They have been scoring like one, though. Houston is third in the league in offensive rating, and when Harden is on the court, it has scored 115.1 points per 100 possessions -- if a team sustained that number for an entire year, it would be the best mark in NBA history. Oh, and the Rockets have been a top-five defensive team in December.

Seriously, never doubt the Spurs

There were non-crazy reasons to be concerned about San Antonio heading into the season. Without Tim Duncan (and Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner), perhaps things wouldn't be quite the same. There were questions about Tony Parker's effectiveness at 34 years old, how a frontline of LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol would fare defensively and whether the numerous new pieces on the bench would fit in.

Of course, the Spurs are now 26-6, 1.5 games back of the Warriors, top-five in both offensive and defensive rating. Kawhi Leonard keeps getting better, and Gregg Popovich once again has a convincing case for Coach of the Year honors. Also, Duncan's retirement ceremony was pretty much flawless.

The Internet was right about the Greek Freak

Sometimes, League Pass diehards can get ahead of themselves with their enthusiasm for young players. They (OK, we) are basically helpless when confronted with players who combine an unusual package of skills with athleticism and personality. It happened with Giannis Antetokounmpo and his seemingly limitless potential, just like it happened with Anthony Randolph back when Don Nelson's positionless basketball seemed revolutionary.

Unlike Randolph, the 22-year-old Antetokounmpo has proven worthy of every bit of the attention he received since the footage of him playing in Greece's second division was published on DraftExpress in February 2013. The 6-foot-11 point guard is clearly the Milwaukee Bucks' franchise player, and he will surely make the first of many All-Star appearances in February.

Giannis Antetokounmpo mean mug
Giannis Antetokounmpo getting mean. USATSI

The Raptors did not peak last season

Throughout Toronto's rise, Dwane Casey has said over and over again that his team is not a finished product. The phrase grew tiresome, but this year has proven him right. After winning 56 games and reaching the conference finals for the first time in franchise history, the Raptors have improved again. Thanks largely to the efficiency of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, they have an even better offensive rating than the Warriors.

The lesson here: Do not assume that All-Stars can't improve meaningfully in their mid-to-late 20s, especially after getting a taste high-level playoff competition. If Toronto can swing a trade to address its defensive deficiencies, watch out.

The trade deadline should be interesting

Outside of Cleveland and Toronto, there might not be a single Eastern Conference front office that is pleased with the way the season has gone. In the Western Conference, a genuinely bad team might wind up with the eighth seed in the playoffs. Plenty of general managers would love mulligans on contracts that were signed last offseason and are trying to figure out creative ways to build contenders under the new collective bargaining agreement, a world in which it will be harder to poach other teams' stars in free agency.

All of this adds up to the possibility for serious movement before February's trade deadline. It's unclear if any franchise-changing players will be on the market, but perhaps there could be a flurry of activity like we saw two years ago.

Tanking isn't cool, for now anyway

Part of the reason the standings are all jumbled up in the middle is because nobody's really racing toward the bottom. The Brooklyn Nets don't own their draft pick, the Philadelphia 76ers are theoretically trying to be more competitive, the Phoenix Suns still want to make the playoffs and the Dallas Mavericks apparently won't consider tanking until "game 75 or maybe game 70."

The question, of course, is when this strategy will return to prominence. I'll bet it won't be long. Drafting players with star potential will be more important than ever with the new CBA, and teams like the Suns, Mavs and Miami Heat have little incentive to turn their seasons around.