Super Playoffs (The End of the Superteam)
The Milwaukee Bucks won two conference titles in 1971 and 1974. They won their only championship in 1971. Their current team’s top two players were draft picks, (1st round) Multiple All Star, 2-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo and (2nd round) All-Star Khris Middleton, faced a daunting team of MVP, multiple All-Star, NBA Champion Kevin Durant, multiple All-Star, NBA Champion Kyrie Irving and MVP and multiple All-Star James Harden.
The Atlanta Hawks have not won either any conference titles or a championship in their franchise history. The last championship the Hawks organization saw was as the St. Louis Hawks when they won in 1958. Their top two players were draft picks. Trae Young and John Collins, along with free agent acquisitions Clint Capela and Bogdan Bogdanovic took the next step in their journey. They beat a number two seeded Philadelphia 76ers team with two top draft picks in multiple All-Stars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and a max Free Agent asset in Tobias Harris.
The Los Angeles Clippers have not won either a conference title or championship in its existence. One of their top two players in All-Star, NBA Champion Kawhi Leonard, was lost due to injury in round two of the Western Conference Playoffs in an eventual win over the number one seeded Utah Jazz and their drafted stars, defensive juggernaut in Rudy Gobert and an explosive star in Donovan Mitchell, along with sixth man of the year, free agent pick-up, Jordan Clarkson. The Clippers were led by their other multiple time All Star in Paul George.
Though they have won 2 conference titles in 1976 and 1993, the Phoenix Suns have not won an NBA title in their tenure. Drafted stars, All-Star Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges are seeing their best chance at a title since Nash and Stoudemire. Free agent asset, multiple All-Star Chris Paul, has been a great mentor to these players in his advanced basketball lifetime; and though currently sidelined due to Covid-19, will be key to their success. They defeated a strong, young Denver Nuggets team with drafted All-Star and 2021 league MVP, Nickola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr.
This is indeed a new day… ladies, and gentlemen. I hope you are ready for change.
A seismic shift in the modern MBA is occurring and it is so violent that I am surprised at the tender whisps of analytical nothingness flickering above the surface. Maybe their radars aren’t tuned in? Maybe their scouts are like Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt and the team racing their NBA version of Dorothy through the storms of draft picks since the NBA Lottery is fastly approaching. Maybe?
Maybe no one truly wants to see their Linus winter blanket go by way of Toy Story, into the closet and tucked away to be forgotten. Sadly, Coach Fah says goodnight sweet Superteam… chamomile and lavender dreams my friend.
You couldn’t be gone soon enough.
Now, there still are super teams in the NBA but with this year’s outcome, more General Managers are seeing cap value in growing their own draft picks. They are starting to see (maybe) a value in coaching, and the proper fit, as orchestrated by Monty Williams, Nate McMillan and Tom Thibodeau. If they have been listening at all to the fans of every franchise, the compelling stories were the Hawks, The Suns, The Knicks, Denver, Utah, Charlotte, aka the teams that have found success through hard work, stellar coaching, bonds built, culture. There is money in the noise.
This years’ finals features no Lakers, No Cavaliers, No Warriors, No Heat, No Celtics. There’s no hate there. It is just an observation.
My next observation is that even if the remaining super teams are healthy next year, it is no longer a guarantee those teams, rich in free agent talent, will be at the finish line. As more and more organically successful teams emerge, I believe we are in for some surprising, gut-wrenching, grossly entertaining finals for years to come. I for one, have my popcorn ready.