With the NBA season now underway, we dive into potentially the most competitive 82 game stretch we have seen in a long time, with no clear-cut victor leading the race.
The past decade of NBA basketball has been dominated by so-called ‘super teams,’ teams that have three or more superstars on the roster at once. The phenomenon was essentially sparked by Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat, when their 2010 roster acquired all-stars like Lebron James and Chris Bosh, who are all future hall of fame players. The trend carried on, and was most prevalent in the Warriors roster, who won their first championship in 2015, and went on to win three out of the five championships they participated in during their five-season reign.
The reason I talk about super teams, is because a lot of them disseminated after last season. The Golden State Warriors lost its best scorer, and one of the best scorers in the league in Kevin Durant; Kawhi Leonard departed from his championship team, the Raptors; along with other superstars such as Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler. A lot of superstars migrated to organizations with none, or only one other superstar, making the balance of teams across the NBA a lot more widespread.
There are still some star-studded rosters who just might have their way this season. A blossoming rivalry comes from the heart of Los Angeles, where the Clippers and the Lakers across the board are ranked as two of the top teams in the Western Conference.
During the pre-season, several analysis, reporters and even coaches around the league voiced that the Clippers were the team to beat in the NBA. With new additions such as Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, their astounding defense was elevated into what a lot of people consider as top tier; however, they might have one brutal flaw.
The Clippers perimeter defense is among the best in the league, but what hinders their abilities dwindles on the interior. The anchor of the Clippers defense is predicated on a 6’7 scrappy center named Montrezl Harrell.
Although he has all the heart in the world, his stature might be the downfall of this Clipper defense.
The benefit of having good perimeter defenders with decent rim protection, is it allows for the perimeter defenders to play aggressively, and when they get beat off the dribble, they have a strong second line of defense to account for their assertive defense. The lack of rim protection on the Clippers will make it so great perimeter defenders like Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverly cannot pay as aggressively as they’d like, which takes away from their team’s backbone.
The Western conference, per usual, is loaded from top to bottom with talent. Teams like the Spurs (who currently sit atop the conference), Rockets, Jazz, and Nuggets all have the systems to make deep playoff pushes. Although with more talent this year, the Eastern Conference still remains fairly top heavy, but they have some spectacular talent on their end. From reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, to well established teams like the 76ers, the Eastern Conference could knock off some of the top teams in the West.
The MVP race is just as cutthroat as the championship race. With dominant players already having their way this early in the season.
Although just five games into the season, Lebron James’ dominance could propel him into his fifth MVP. So far, Lebron averages 26 points, 10 assists, shooting just over 50 percent, according to stats.nba.com. James is also co-leading his team to a three-way tie for the best record in the Western Conference.
His running mate, Anthony Davis, produces insane numbers as well, as he is top five in the league in points, blocks, and efficiency, according to stats.nba.com.
The other two contenders, James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo already have history in battling for the MVP title.
James Harden’s incredible, record-breaking scoring has transferred over to this season. As he leads the NBA in scoring and is actually in fourth place in terms of assists, according to stats.nba.com.
Up north, Giannis Antetokounmpo is having his way with the league, leading the NBA in efficiency. Antetokounmpo also averages 26 points per game on an incredible 58 percent from the field, according to stats.nba.com.
From the tight MVP race, to star studded rivalries, the 2019-2020 NBA season is gearing up to be one for the books.