The main knock people have with the NBA is the old “The same team wins every year, why should I watch?”. While I completely disagree with this point because everything leading up to the Finals the past 4 years has still been climactic and exciting, I get the premise of it. The casual fan sees the Warriors and Cavaliers play in 4 straight Finals and naturally connects the dots and complains about it being predictable. What people forget about all 4 of those Finals was that there were real storylines and real drama in each Postseason/Finals. The first one was LeBron and an injured Cavs team in LeBron’s first season back in Cleveland against a bunch of unproven shooters who hadn’t won anything in Golden State. The second, we saw the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history and a championship brought back to Cleveland as the Cavaliers rallied from down 3-1 to defeat the 73-9 Warriors who looked like world beaters all season long. The third, ok I’ll admit it, the third one stunk and it was a cakewalk for both teams all the way through to The Finals. Then once they both got there, the Warriors washed the Cavs in 5 games (there you go NBA Slanderers, you got me there). While last year’s was a sweep the drama was in what led up to The Finals as both the Warriors and Cavaliers were down 3-2 and had to win game 7s on the road in the Conference Finals. The Rockets had one of the best offensive seasons ever and the Celtics almost waltzed into The Finals with a bunch of kids. The point is, even if you had a feeling about the ending, there still were exciting moments and I think this whole notion of “predictability” is going to change in the next few years.
The league has had an extreme talent influx the past few years and more rookies are panning out than ever before as the league is becoming strong top to bottom. While the Warriors will inevitably get DeMarcus Cousins soon and probably will end up hoisting the trophy yet again, it won’t be like that for long. With LeBron moving out West the Eastern Conference is as wide open as ever and you could make a case for 3-4 teams that could realistically make it to The Finals. In the Western Conference, even though Golden State is a thing, it will not be an easy road for them as every single team has a boatload of talent. If you don’t believe me, check out the standings on this date last year compared to this year.
Right off the bat you can see the improvement top to bottom in the West and how talented the East is at the top compared to last year. At this point last year the 5th seeded Thunder were 10 games back while this year the 14th seeded Grizzlies are only 9 games back. It’s honestly crazy how much has changed in only one year and how many teams have their cores together for the future and are making strides. There have been so many great stories like the Clippers, Kings, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, the list goes on.
Many different players have taken huge leaps this season as well and there will be more All-Star snubs than usual. What I mean is that the usual suspects (Curry, Durant, LeBron, Harden, etc.) are still in play, but then you take a look down the line and there are a LOT of REALLY good players in the league. Giannis is the next unstoppable force in the association, Anthony Davis is as talented as any big man to ever lace them up, and then you get into up and comers like Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox, Tobias Harris, Luka Doncic, etc. that will be causing problems for their opposition for years to come. Notice I didn’t even mention guys like Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Joel Embiid. They’re pretty good too to be modest about it. To go a step further, you take a look at the upcoming draft class and see possible transcending talents in Zion Williamson and R.J Barrett. The point is, there is Grade-A talent all over the place and even more is on the horizon.
I know the thought now too: “So who cares if there are more good teams, they aren’t beating the Warriors”. I absolutely agree with you on them not beating the Warriors but change could come as soon as this summer. Think about it, Kevin Durant has a player option he will most certainly decline, Klay Thompson is up this year, Boogie won’t be back, and Draymond Green has 1 more year on his deal. That team could look a whole lot different next season and it’s already been noted the tension in that locker room, specifically between KD and Draymond. The side effect of that is whatever team lands KD is automatically a contender and who knows where Boogie/Klay will end up. The Warriors are Steph Curry’s team and they will always be Steph Curry’s team. It makes sense that after a few years of dominance the other guys may want to pursue their own accolades and win while leading their own teams rather than stay in the shadow that is the Warriors as a team. Nobody gives KD any sort of credit (even after he won 2 straight Finals MVPs and hit two of the coldest threes in Finals history) and you have to think that effects him and that he’d love to shut everybody up by winning with his own team after bowing out of OKC (The dude has burner accounts and responds to every Twitter Egg in the stratosphere, he clearly cares). He could very easily high-tail it up to New York and bring the Knicks back to prominence next to Kristaps. Who knows what could happen, the NBA has the craziest free agency/offseason for a reason, and it’s only going to get more looney. The main takeaway here is, don’t besmirch the league because the Warriors built the best team of all-time, there is an end in sight, and there’s more talent everywhere you look than ever before.
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