There was just one game on the slate during Monday’s NBA playoff action, and the whole exercise feels more and more pointless by the day. With seven days to go before the NBA Draft Lottery, the prospect of debating prospects feels a lot more interesting than watching a lot of the action taking place in the NBA right now.
Alas, we go first to the most dominant team in the league.
Golden State ripped off the greatest regular season of all-time last year, and if not for a series of unexpected oddities, they would have capped the season with a title and laid claim to the most dominant run in NBA history. Cleveland’s 3-1 comeback obscured their achievements a bit, and there is really no precedent for a team as good as they were needing a vengeance tour the next season.
LeBron James’ start to the 2017 postseason has been the dominant storyline in most NBA circles, but as people debate the ease through which he moves through his conference and compare his obstacles to other historical greats, no one seems all that flummoxed by the unstoppable Warriors juggernaut.
That 73-win team who ran roughshod over the league only added one of the three best players on the planet in the offseason, and with Kevin Durant up to speed they are making a mockery of the Western Conference playoffs. Durant sat out for stretches of their first-round series with Portland as a precautionary measure, and the Warriors rolled anyway.
They have the same record as the Cavs do in their respective conference playoffs, with nearly double the average scoring margin through their first eight games. Yet in #LightYears World, all you hear are veiled shots at the level of competition for the other guys:
Draymond Green not impressed by Pacers & Raptors: "You watch [Cavs], it's been amazing... The teams they're playing against, not so much." pic.twitter.com/EZBLOLN68M— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 9, 2017
The Warriors have an embarrassment of riches, players who should be judged not just within immediate context but considered in all-time discussions. Steph Curry was the first unanimous MVP in the history of the league last year. Draymond Green is the likely Defensive Player of the Year, Klay Thompson would be on pace to be the most prolific shooter ever if not for his teammate, and Durant was on a collision course with the Hall of Fame regardless of if he ever won a title.
Whether it’s the different expectations we collectively place on LeBron or the final fumes of the underdog aura that drew people to the Warriors to begin with, Golden State curb-stomping everything in their path doesn’t seem to matter to most people. When the Cavs vanquish multiple All-Stars on their way to the Conference Finals, suddenly those teams are retroactively trash and Cleveland didn’t play anyone; when the Warriors wax Utah—a team national writers spent months talking up as a tough matchup—way less people feel the need to marginalize Golden State’s team and individual accomplishments.
If anything, it feels like the expectations should be much higher for these Warriors. They submitted the most infamous choke job in NBA Finals history, and instead of running it back with the same group they neutered their biggest conference competitor and added a top-three player.
Maybe expecting other MVPs to be judged by LeBron is unlikely, and we’re all probably better off with players and teams not being unfairly torn apart. But we’re dealing with several figures who are outliers in the scope of NBA history, and only one in either conference seems to have their vaunted “path to the Finals” over-scrutinized.
Lonzo Ball rapping isn’t completely terrible, even if his dad is
I’m not going to be hankering for a mixtape anytime soon, but this is the least annoying thing the Ball family has done in the last few weeks, and a decent effort from a hooping rapper.
One NBA executive told me a few years ago that he’s heard of owners lurking on RealGM and Reddit to take the temperature of their fan bases before finalizing trades. It makes sense. The opinion of the most passionate and smartest fans live online.
No pressure guys, but make sure you keep coming here all the time and leaving comments about the players you do and do not want to be on the Sixers.
Also worth your time—an offshoot of The Ringer’s NBA Show, “High Upside”, that is apparently going to focus on draft coverage. In the first episode, O’Connor and Jonathan Tjarks talked about the wings in this year’s draft, and discussed some of the combatting styles and team-building philosophies that make up the difference in their evaluations.
If Kobe's storytelling exists primarily to make Kobe-ism easier to understand, it makes a perverse sort of sense that the story can only be told through words that only Kobe fully understands, using jargon that he made up himself, in a strange and seething universe that he is pulling from his imagination.
Regardless of the subject, I always recommend reading David’s work.
There will be new faces on the roster next season, and perhaps a new head man on the sideline, but Ujiri generally prefers a scalpel to dynamite, he doesn’t panic, and he likes to win. James’s brilliance and the business of basketball will ensure that Toronto can’t maintain its status quo, but Ujiri’s history suggests that the off–season will most likely unfold in a logical and methodical fashion.
Please sign Lowry to that extension, Masai. You’re our only hope.
I usually resist linking to TMZ and TMZ-esque coverage in this space, but this seemed too wild not to include. I also wish I was hearing about Bosh—a player whose game I enjoyed immensely—for reasons that actually involve basketball.