It has been an interesting NBA season. Some teams underperformed, some exceeded expectations, teams have suffered from injuries, teams lacked chemistry, and some players shocked the world. The league is heading into a new direction and has been for a few years now. Positions are based on skill sets more so than size. Versatility is the name of the game now. You either have to be great at a few things or decent at every facet of the game. 6’10 point guards mixed with centers who shoot 3s with precision. The talent level is so much higher now on the offensive end and it’s getting more and more difficult to defend. So let’s breakdown 3 things that surprised me the most and 3 things that really disappointed me.
The Pacers really surprised me this year, especially Victor Oladipo. When they traded away Paul George I thought for sure they would be a lottery team. But as we look back the Pacers definitely won that exchange. Oladipo is an all star and is on the cusp of being a true superstar. They put up a really good fight against LeBron James and the Cavaliers taking the series to 7 forcing LeBron to really put it all out there. If they can get another star they’ll be legit competitors in next year’s playoffs.
This guy came out of no where. He’s definitely the biggest steal of the draft. Mitchell is the Jazz’s future alongside Rudy Gobert. He’s like a mix of Dwayne Wade and Lou Williams. A dynamic scorer who’s also physical on the defensive end. When Ricky Rubio went down in this year’s playoffs he played point guard for the first time in his career and did very well. Not too many rookies can put a team on their back like he has, and he’s done it. Much like the Pacers, they should’ve never made the playoffs and they also need another star to be true contenders. Keep Rubio at point and get either another wing like a Gordon Hayward or a PF with a style of play opposite of Gobert and they’ll be fine.
The fact that they(LeBron) made it to the finals is crazy. Especially considering the lack of chemistry and a sub par coach in Tyronn Flue. They’re worse than the team Allen Iverson carried to the finals and worse than the Cavs team LeBron carried to the finals way back when. Those teams at least played defense. This Cavs team looked like a bunch Helen Kellers on D from time to time. But unfortunately, LeBron is probably leaving and I don’t blame him. The Cavaliers really messed up all throughout the year.
Oklahoma City Thunder
I was one of the people who thought 3 ball dominant players would mesh well. But I was wrong. I thought Houston with Chris Paul and James Harden would flop. But no, it was the Thunder. So many things are wrong with this team. First off, Silly Donovan is the head coach and for some reason got a contract extension after the Thunder were eliminated in the first round. He has no system and his playbook only consists of two things, isolation and terrible pick & roll. Second off, Paul George meshed pretty well with Russell Westbrook. But Carmelo Anthony didn’t at all. He’s no longer prime Melo, he needs to either change his style of play or play the 6th man role. Thirdly, Steven Adams is criminally underutilzed. He grabs offensive rebounds like it’s nothing and plays good defense. He’s just tough. I want to see him develop a post game, but he’s good already. I could keep going on and on about this team.
I thought for sure Wiggins was going to break out and become a superstar. But he didn’t, in fact, he even got worse. I think Jimmy Butler joining the squad may have impacted him. They didn’t really mesh well obviously. But regardless, he slumped big time this season and he’s probably going to be traded. I also question his work ethic as well because he’s had the same build since his rookie season. His jumper and other skills haven’t progressed much. Perhaps he focuses on cardio? I don’t know.
Injuries have really shaped the outcome of this season. Which lead to a lot of “what if?” What if Kawhi Leonard was healthy? Would the Spurs be a top seed and finally defeat the Warriors? What if Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward were healthy? Would they defeat the Cavaliers and potentially the Warriors? What if Chris Paul never strained his hamstring? Would the Rockets dethrone the Warriors? We will never know and it sucks. Too many star and superstar level players got hurt this year which took away some of the excitement of the playoffs.