State of the NBA 2015
The league boasts a parody in 2015 that has not been seen in the NBA for a very long time. The Golden State Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA title? Say it out loud, it doesn't even seem right. No Spurs, Heat, Bulls, Lakers or Celtics, for the first time in 20 years. And the other teams representing the league's upper echelon are the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers and the Atlanta Hawks. Further proof of this upside down league is to take a peak at the lottery teams and see the Lakers and Knicks, again. The Western Conference seems to be the most wide open especially since its ninth best team was the Thunder. The East just follows around LeBron who is making his fifth straight finals appearance and sixth overall. Even perennial dogs like the Timberwolves have at least a glimmer of hope for the future with this year's first pick in Karl Anthony Towns and the past two number one picks already on the roster in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennet whom they obtained in the Kevin Love deal with Cleveland. Love has since resigned with Cleveland for the next five years making them the prohibitive favorite to win the East for years to come. Perhaps Milwaukee with newly signed Greg Monroe and a roster full of young talent like Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo could be poised to make a run in a year or two as well. The Eastern conference up and comers may well be the 76ers as they have another lottery pick Jahlil Okafur to add to their already burgeoning roster of lottery picks. The rest of the Eastern conference seems to be pinning their hopes on landing Durant next year in free agency, Washington is hoping to return the home town hero, while Miami has a team friendly deal in place with Wade leading many to believe they could be players in the Durant sweep stakes.
Like it or not no matter how good you think the NBA's new crop of superstars are, no one can touch the King. King James that is, Lebron James is still by far the best player in the league and folks, its not even close. For a time it looked as though Kevin Durant may challenge the throne, but his spindly build is proving to be too injury prone to lay claim to being the best. James' consistency has become his downfall, at least in the eyes of MVP voters who are trying to find a way not to give him the award he deserves each and every season. Steph Curry is a nice player on a great team and won the award much the way Barkely and Malone did in the 90's from Jordan fatigue. You can't give it to Jordan every year even though he deserved it, now you can't give it to Lebron every year even though he took the worst team in the league and turned them into the best team in the Eastern conference over night. So as we see a new crop of rising stars like Steph Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, there is still no doubt that LeBron is King. The NBA Finals should have put any doubters to bed despite the outcome, no one could do more for his team than LeBron did in the 2015 finals. Curry's performance was at times mind blowing but the most complete player on the court was obvious to anyone watching.
End of an Era
It seems that the NBA is approaching another huge wave of turnover as we see an aging group of super stars in the twilight of their careers. Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki are all entering their final seasons and have all left their mark on the NBA landscape. Tim Duncan is arguably the best player ever at his position and has five championships, Kobe has the same amount of rings and sans Michael Jordan may be the best player at his position to have ever played. Paul Pierce may be one of the most clutch players of all time and Dirk is undoubtedly the best shooting big man of all time. Between the four of them they share 10 rings, 4 Regular Season MVPs, and 7 Finals MVPs.
The defending champion Golden State Warriors will have their hands full in repeating going against a reshuffled Western Conference. LaMarcus Aldridge and David West should help the Spurs immensely but the rest of their parts have to expire at some point, don't they? The Clippers retain Deandre Jordan and pick up veterans Paul Pierce and Josh Smith, but that does not really address their lack of athletic defenders outside of Jordan. All things considered the smart money seems to be back on the Warriors to get out of the West since they will maintain most of their roster and their superstars are only getting better. The Rockets don't seem like a true threat unless they add another piece, and OKC could threaten if Durant gets healthy and returns to form, but that is a big if. If I had to pick another team in the West it would have to be Memphis just because of their rugged style but they desperately need scoring if they want to keep up with the other West front runners. The East will once again be the world against LeBron, but the most interesting team might be the Miami Heat with newly resigned Dwayne Wade and hopefully a healthy Bosh to pair with Dragic and rookie Justise Winslow they could make a run at Cleveland. The Bulls seem to be the other team that is always out there as the team to threaten LeBron but that is starting to seem like a pipe dream since he dominates them year in and year out. Atlanta could roll in the regular season again but playoff success is unlikely without a dominate super star, see in this category Toronto, Boston, and Washington as well. So unless some draft picks take off or a major trade goes down look forward to two more years at least of the best in the West versus the Cavs and LeBron
Who will win the NBA title in 2016
NBA Finals 2015
- NBA - National Basketball Association Teams, Scores, Stats, News, Standings, Rumors - ESPN
Get the latest NBA basketball news, scores, stats, standings, fantasy games, and more from ESPN.
The official site of the National Basketball Association. Includes news, features, multimedia, player profiles, chat transcripts, schedules and statistics.