As we take a look back at this past season of the NBA, we reflect on what was considered a sudden and unexpected rise of the Golden State Warriors. But when you really break it down, the Warriors have everything they need for a title and then some and they’ve had it for a while. All they needed was someone to put it all in place and they finally acquired that man last summer: Steve Kerr. He was brought in after the decision to fire Mark Jackson that angered many Warriors fans but ended changing the team drastically for the better. He brought in reserve Draymond Green as the starting power forward, which turned out to be a revelation that produced a 2nd place Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He reinstated Harrison Barnes to his starting spot and moving beloved veteran Andre Iguodala after convincing him to take a step back and be the leader of the second team, now considered the strongest in the league. Throughout the roster, we can see just how stuffed it is with selfless talented players. The Warriors have two All-Stars coming off the bench in Iguodala and David Lee. They have a wide variety of quick and lengthy defenders that allow a defense based on switching that won’t give any advantages to the offensive player. Everything has gotten organized and put into place that allowed the Warriors to crank out a 67-15 record from the regular season, the best by a large margin. They’re led by the reigning MVP Steph Curry, an All-NBA first and second team player in their starting lineup with Green and Andrew Bogut respectively. No matter where you look in the roster there is depth to spare at every single position. Their 2nd string of Livingston, Iguodala, Lee, Ezeli, and Leandro Barbosa that could be a strong starting five in the Eastern Conference. Through the season and postseason, we have seen a continued dominance that was one of the best season of all time. They lead the league in assists, defensive and offensive field goal percentage, as well as defensive efficiency with a second place finish in offensive efficiency. They posted a 10.1 net rating, only the 8th double digit one of all time. The all around team has truly shown off all sides of themselves as they’ve dominated throughout the league, and I don’t expect that dominance to end, even if it is LeBron in the Finals.
Recently in the NBA Playoffs, we watched the New Orleans Pelicans get swept by the one of the best teams in the league, the Golden State Warriors, in the first round. But this playoff result was far from a disappointment, as the Pelicans were able to fight through their whole season facing injuries in a brutal conference. Even with the Thunder losing Durant and the blow it caused to that team, these Pelicans fought and were able to slide in based on their own merits. They held strong, even with starting point guard Jrue Holiday out for half the season, Ryan Anderson missed 21 games due to injury, Eric Gordon had an extended absence in the beginning, and one of the greatest players in the league, Anthony “The Brow” Davis, missing 14 games due to various injuries. Despite these setbacks and being left out of nearly every single playoff prediction, they clung to life and were able to pull away with their first playoff berth since Chris Paul left the team back in 2011. This marvelous feat was possible only because the Pelicans had their own superhuman athlete to lead the crowd. Anthony Davis had a monster season that will go down in history. He posted a PER of 30.89, the 11th best in the history of the NBA. He’s averaging career highs all across the boards, and those numbers are still going up. He has the ability to take over a game with his mid range, his post ups, and, if necessary, the ability to hit a game-winning three from thirty feet out while guarded by two players. That three pointer over the outstretched arms of reigning MVP Kevin Durant would eventually prove to save their season, as the victory gave the Pelicans the tie breaker they needed after the two teams finished out the season with the same record, and OKC narrowly missed the postseason. And even though his offensive game is phenomenal, his defense is just as good if not better. He is one of the best defenders in the league, using his length to guard anywhere from the basket to blocking three pointers. And even with his monster stat lines that have literally never been seen before since the NBA began recording blocks, flirting with the legendary quadruple double, and averaging over thirty points in his first postseason appearance, we can’t mention Anthony Davis without bringing up the phrase that has seemed to latch onto him whenever his future in the NBA is mentioned: he’s only 22. His legendary seasons have been accomplished all in the third year in the league, and he is the youngest person to post a PER over thirty, which doesn’t even factor in his defensive edge. Scary things are coming from Anthony Davis, as he’s due to get an increase in usage. Right now, he only has a usage rate of 25% and is still posting stat lines that are better than the rest of the leagues superstars like LeBron James and James Harden, and if the uptick in usage this season has been any sign, next years increase will rocket him into an even higher level than the one he is on right now, which also happens to be a level he occupies all by himself. Anthony Davis is still only 22, and I can definitely say that this superstar has the potential to be the best basketball player ever, even passing all time greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan. With how much he has already given us, I can hardly fathom what he has in store.
Photo by Jeff Turner
There are no more perfect perfect brackets left in the tournament and we haven’t even finished the round of 32. How did this happen so quickly this year? ….. Because of all the upsets. Why are there so many upsets happening in this year’s tournament? It’s not because teams were not ranked properly. It’s because the higher ranked teams aren’t showing the same desire to win that the lower ranked teams are. The higher teams, such as Villanova being upset by NC State, just feel that they are better and don’t have to try. They feel that they can easily win. What happens is that the higher ranked teams slack while teams like NC State take the lead and gain momentum. By the time the other realizes they are down, it is too late for them to recover. Like John Calipari said “If they want to win, they will play and win. They have already proven it.” The higher ranked teams need to ply they did to make the tournament.