The NBA Offseason Suggests a Promising Future for the NBA
Credit: Sports Illustrated
The summer has witnessed one of the most exciting NBA off seasons in recent memory. Attempting to compete with the juggernaut that is the Golden State Warriors, multiple teams are acquiring franchise players and building deep rosters in order to overcome the reigning champions.
It’s easy to single out the one man who precipitated these seismic shifts in the NBA landscape: Kevin Durant.
Many fans lamented Kevin Durant’s decision a year ago to join the team that had just eliminated him and proceeded to barely lose in the NBA finals. They claimed that this move removed the league’s competitiveness and all, but guaranteed another finals berth and victory for the warriors.
With hindsight, this claim holds weight. While the Cavs’ finals effort was incredibly impressive and deserves everyone’s respect, it required the combination of many adverse factors (such as injuries and suspensions) to push Golden State to the edge.
If the 2016 Warriors and Cavs faced each other again, it would be safe to say that either team could take home the trophy. Adding Kevin Durant to that team presented the Cavs with an almost insurmountable challenge which (despite showing flashes of dominance) they could not overcome.
However, although the Warriors appear unbeatable, that hasn’t stopped other teams from loading up on talent to prepare for next year and the years to come. New pairings of established names such as James Harden, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Paul George are ready to take the league by storm.
Additionally, younger teams such as the Timberwolves with its newest asset, Jimmy Butler, and the premiere young talent of the Sixers and Lakers could likely dominate the league in a few years’ time. We also still have other potential trades to look forward to, as the pundits continue to debate where Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving will ultimately land.
Just as there were many compelling storylines last season, all of these new team-ups will surely produce incredible in game results and may even exceed expectations. Yes, the Warriors are still the presumptive favorite, but we’ve seen that defensive minded teams like the Spurs and Grizzlies can cause them major problems.
Anything can happen in a playoff series, so it’s not inconceivable that they can be taken down.
More importantly, however, there’s still excitement to be had in earlier rounds of the playoffs (for instance a Celtics-Wizards or Rockets-Thunder rematch), and in regular season matchups between these new powerhouse teams.
Another element that may yield surprising results is the eastern conference. People have understandably written off the whole conference since many of its stars have migrated west, leaving LeBron an easier path to the finals.
However, if Kyrie is traded, the Celtics or Wizards may actually give the Cavs a run for their money. This is obviously still unlikely considering LeBron’s greatness, but if these teams get better, it’s reasonable to see the gap shrink.
The shadow of a Warriors super-team does loom large over the league. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I would still bet on the Warriors winning it all, even factoring in the newly upgraded Rockets, a healthy Spurs, and the Cavs.
Nevertheless, the league has an unprecedented level of talent newly reorganized in interesting ways. Even if the final results are clear, the journey to get there still holds its fair share of excitement.
What are your thoughts on the offseason and how it will affect the upcoming season?