Parity Again in the NBA

The NBA is in a rare form in today’s league with the league shifting back to a balanced league as far as how spread out the talent is.

The league took a huge turn when Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2007, along with Ray Allen getting traded to the Celtics forming a big 4 and powerhouse that ran Lebron James out of Cleveland without the ability to get past the Celtics without his own superstar teammates. That move led to Lebron going to South Beach teaming up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and just like that Miami went to 4 straight finals and won 2.

Kevin Durant and the Thunder lost the Miami Heat in the 2012 finals four games to one, and in 2016 joined the Golden State Warriors, who were coming off of a championship of their own in 2015 against another big 3/super team formed around Lebron James consisting of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

The Warriors were blessed because Kevin Love didn’t play a single game in the finals and Kyrie didn’t play a minute after game 1. 2016 came around and the Warriors won 73 games in the regular season, got to the Western Conference playoffs, only to fall behind three games to one versus the Kevin Durant led Oklahoma city Thunder.

The Warriors came back to win that series to have the grudge match with the Cavs. The Dubs rolled to an easy 3-1 lead in the series and it appeared they would easily repeat as champions.

The injury bug hit the Dubs this time with Andrew Bogut going down in game 4, Andre Iguodala re-aggravating his back in game 4 and Stephen Curry already limited by hurting his knee at the beginning of the playoffs.

Draymond Green was also suspended, setting up the biggest comeback in finals history. Lebron James and Kyrie Irving took full advantage of that having one of the all time dominant games by a duo in finals history with Kyrie going for 41 points on 17-24 shooting with a plus minus of plus 20.

Lebron James going for 41 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks with a plus minus of plus 14 to push the series to game 6 and 7 where they won an epic game 7 in Golden state on a Kyrie three pointer with under a minute left which broke a tie score at 89, and broke both teams cold streak with no team making a bucket for 4 or 5 minutes.

Kevin Durant then went to the Warriors forming his own super team, and it was a foregone conclusion who was coming out of the Western conference for the next few years. So from 2011 -2018, it was only the Heat and Cavs coming out of the East, all Lebron James super teams, and from 2015 -2019 it was Golden State coming out of the West.

The league was in a very predictable state. Watching Steph Curry and Lebron James in the finals was surely a time to remember, but what happened to the parity, not knowing who was going to the finals and winning before the season started.

Lebron James Went West to L.A after the 2019 season, Kawhi Leonard went East and the balance in the league started to begin. Lebron did lure Anthony Davis to the Lakers, and attempted to lure Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers as well to form another super team, but Kawhi chose to sign with the Clippers joining Paul George there, after winning a championship with the Raptors the season before.

There aren’t any more super teams, as far as 3 super stars being on one team. There aren’t anymore teams that you can say is definitely going to the finals. The Eastern Conference has been the clear weaker conference for so many years and now there are 6,7 teams with equal amount of talent on them, and lots of players/teams with something to prove this season.

Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics beat the Nets without Ben Simmons, the Bucks without Khris Middleton, and escaped the ECF with a narrow win over the Heat in a game & Jimmy Butler had a wide open three point attempt to win the game that clanked off the rim to the left.

Jason Tatum had a horrible outing in the NBA finals with Andrew Wiggins shutting him down. The Celtic have a lot to prove. Kevin Durant’s Nets look to prove they can win a Championship with a healthy roster, along with the Heat coming back after falling short in 2020 in the finals versus the Lakers, and 2022 versus the Celtics.

The Sixers with the now in shape James Harden, who is off to a monster regular season, although he has had monster regular seasons in the past, only to fade in the playoffs, have championship or bust goals with MVP candidate Joel Embiid leading the way.

The Bucks won it all in 2021, but lost Middleton in the 2022 playoffs not having their full roster to try to defend their crown is hungry with arguably the most dominant player in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo Leading the way.

The Bulls hopefully getting Lonzo Ball back this season, the Cavs with newly acquired Donovan Mitchell, the Hawks, Raptors and the Hornets all capable teams of making it tough on the top teams in the east.

The Western Conference has the defending Champion Golden State Warriors, who have appeared to have gotten stronger with James Wiseman returning to action, along with a healthy, rejuvenated Klay Thompson and finals MVP Steph Curry look to repeat as champions and continue to write the story of the best Dynasty since the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls of the 90s.

It won’t be easy with the Denver Nuggets getting Michael Porter Jr. back this season, and expect Jamal Murray back sometime this season to join Jokic, reigning league MVP, in hopes of making a run at the crown.

The Clippers get Paul George and Kawhi Leonard back and acquired John Wall to an already loaded team, becoming most experts picks to challenge the Warriors for the crown if they could stay healthy.

The Suns, Mavs, Pelicans getting Zion back to join rising star Ingram, the Wolves with newly acquired Rudy Gobert, and the Grizzlies are the likely top 8 teams who can all beat any team in the top 8 making the west as deep as it has ever been.

The Blazers are off to a 4-0 start look to make some noise of their own, and we cannot forget about the Los Angeles Lakers who still have Lebron James one of the greatest players ever still playing at a high level, with Anthony Davis back in the lineup look to turn things around.

The Lakers are in bad need of a trade of Russel Westbrook, we will see how long it takes them to make a move.

The league is in good hands and it’s far too early to make a prediction on who’s winning it all. Barring injury, the table is set for this playoffs to be one of the most compelling, competitive, interesting playoffs in recent history, maybe even league history overall. 

Ronnie Howard

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