By: Sam Stern ’20
“Teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one.” – Mike Krzyzewski
The NBA playoff season is in full swing, and the storylines around the league are being thrown around frequently. Giannis or Harden? Luka or Trae? Wade and Nowitzki. LeBron and Anthony Davis. The Denver Nuggets and the Milwaukee Bucks. The list goes on with the many events that have shaped an impactful season.
As the 2018-2019 season ramped up, there was one storyline that was the headline of every magazine, newspaper, and online website all over the world. LeBron James moving to the historic Lakers franchise. With marquee talents such as Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Pau Gasol playing for this elite franchise, the name LeBron James was going to fit perfectly into the line of historic talents.
Lebron was coming to the Lakers at a time where they needed a miracle in a major way. With the Lakers missing the playoffs the last 6 seasons, the former President of Basketball Operations, Ervin “Magic” Johnson, believed it was time to make a strong run for arguably the best player to touch the hardwood. The look of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and LeBron James was looking to be a well-rounded mix of talents.
On Christmas day of 2018, LBJ suffered a groin injury that would move him to the sidelines. His 17-game absence took the Lakers from a comfortable 4th place seeding, to a nightmarish 10th place seeding. The injury exposed the problems with their young players, and their lack of depth. Not to mention, Lonzo Ball missed just about the entire second half of the season with an injury himself.
In the middle of this crazy fiasco, the trade deadline was approaching, and the NBA was ready to see what power moves would be made this year. All of a sudden, a shock wave was sent through the league as one of the top five players in the league, Anthony Davis, was demanding an immediate trade out of New Orleans.
The Lakers were an obvious choice for the big man to pair with LeBron James. The Lakers also had an abundance of trade assets that they had at their fingertips for any kind of trade scenario. As the deadline came to a close, the Unibrow was still on the Pelicans, and still not happy with his position on this Pelicans squad that was having yet another losing season.
Although the AD deal did not ever come into existence, there were other big names that were traded in February. The one that was talked about regularly, is the Tobias Harris deal that sent Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, and Boban Marjanovic to the 76ers, in exchange for rookie sharpshooter Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, and Mike Muscala. This trade would send the NBA in to a frenzy after seeing the Sixers potential starting five. Simmons, Reddick, Butler, Harris, and Embiid looked like a potent lineup that could be up there with any of the starting fives in the league.
The Eastern conference is one that has had a lot of talent all around, especially in the top four seeds. The Bucks, Raptors, 76ers, and the Celtics all created a team nucleus with a lot of overall depth. The Bucks became the only 60 win team in the NBA with none other than the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
He has led his team in points with 27 ppg, 12 reb, 6 asst, and 57% field goal percentage. He has led an elite NBA threat this year alongside Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, and the sniper, Brook Lopez. Giannis elevated his game to a whole other level, and he has been performing at an MVP level this entire season.
His bid for Most Valuable Player could be in jeopardy with the way the Beard has played this season. James Harden, the reigning NBA MVP, has been playing yet again at an NBA caliber level.
Speaking of NBA awards, the Rookie class was led by two scorers that have potential to be NBA superstars for years to come. Luka Doncic and Trae Young have been putting up monster numbers, and there will be a major fight for that rookie of the year award.
Going into the 2019-2020 season, there is a college star who is tearing up the court on both ends. Zion Williamson has been throwing down monster jams, and leading his team deep into the NCAA Tournament. Just imagine, a 260 pound beast taking into the lane against a 7’6” Tacko Fall and fouling him out of the game while making the bucket.
In an email interview, Denver Nuggets TV analyst and former NBA player Bill Hanzlik said about Zion’s potential: “Zion will be an NBA All Star barring injury. He will be a difference maker for whatever team is fortunate to draft him #1. He will make that team a playoff team.”
As all players have a beginning to their careers, there sadly must always be an end. For two superstar players, their careers came to a very beautiful close.
Dirk Nowitzki was a 21 year veteran of the Dallas Mavericks organization, and led them to their very first championship in 2011. His patented post fadeaway, and his big man shooting skills were to die for. He will forever be remembered as the face of the Dallas Mavericks.
Dwyane Wade has been with Miami for a large portion of his illustrious career, and he has won championships with Lebron James and Chris Bosh. That trio made highlight reel plays that stunned the viewers every night. His poster dunk on center Anderson Varejao will always go down as one of the best dunks in the history of the game.
With the year coming to a close, there have been teams that have shown that their future is very bright. The Denver Nuggets is a perfect example. They have grown immensely this year under the command of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. The Nuggets organization has built their roster up over the years, and they have potential to not only win a championship this year, but to win multiple championships in the next couple years.
“The Denver Nuggets were the biggest surprise team when you look at all the playoff teams. 54 regular season wins was a huge increase and that’s why the Denver Nuggets have a chance to make a run this year,” says Hanzlik.
Do not forget about our 14th overall draft pick in the 2018-2019 draft, Michael Porter Jr. He has potential to come next season and be an automatic game changer on both ends. Boy, this is about to be very exciting.
It’s been an exciting season of NBA basketball this year, and the playoffs have already lived up to all its hype. It will be very interesting to see who is going to come out of both conferences this year for the NBA championship. Is this the year the Warriors get knocked out? Will Kevin Durant leave Golden State? Will the Celtics have a whole new landscape? Will the Nuggets win a championship in the next couple years? Wow! This is about to be a bombshell of a playoff and offseason.