After seasons of super teams that dominated NBA seasons, just waiting to get to the Finals to see the obvious match ups play out, there is finally parity. How basketball got to parity was not by the usual way. There were star team ups but no super teams as we head to a wide open NBA season. More importantly, was the teams that got the team ups.
Small market teams have, or maybe now had, seven years to build a winner before the bigger markets’ call finally wins out. The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are always in on free agents, but until LA lucked out in to LeBron it was all for not. This season New York and Los Angeles got big free agents, but it wasn’t the Knicks or Lakers. The Nets and Clippers signed Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George. Are they the new kings of the East and West?
For the first time since before the Celtics assembled their big three, albeit an aging super team, the NBA is wide open once more. Two stars are now on the Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Nets, Warriors, Trailblazers, Nuggets, 76ers and, depending on your opinion, the Jazz. The regular season, the playoffs they all mean something again.
For fans that is a huge development, but the biggest thing the NBA has seen is even more plan movement. The big money contracts don’t mean as much to the superstars anymore. This off season saw so many stars give up money to team up with another star to build a team to win a championship, but not to the point that three superstars are on the same team.
The end argument has always been rings but superstars like Durant and LeBron have been killed because of their super teams. After Kawhi won as the lone superstar, albeit with some injury luck, the landscape changed and balanced itself out. Culture and depth have shown to matter even more. The Nets and Clippers built good organizations and added young players and that’s how they won free agency. The dysfunction of the Knicks saw them whiff again, which we all knew was coming. LA did trade for AD but lets not kid ourselves, you draft enough in the top three then you’ll have assets to swing a deal.
Portland made it to the Western Conference Finals, the Bucks were the best team in the regular season behind just the Greek Freak. One or two superstars and some bench is enough to win a championship. Instead of waiting for Golden State and LeBron to face off, or whoever came out of the East last year, there’s no way to know this season. The little brothers won the off season this summer and they brought parity.
A bold prediction is LeBron won’t win a championship as long as Kawhi is in LA also. Yes he got AD, but the team around him still seems ill fitting like last season. Maybe he wasn’t as focused last year, and he got hurt, but when ‘playoff mode’ was activated it didn’t matter. The time of James being able to take any four guys to the Finals is over. The NBA is more wide open but that also means way more challenges, especially in the West. They’ll be good but it won’t be enough.