After watching the incredible documentary, “The Last Dance” on ESPN, it’s clear that the Chicago Bulls are the best dynasty in the modern age of the NBA. From 1991 through 1993, the Bulls first three-peat teams beat the Lakers, Trail Blazers and a very good Phoenix Suns team for their three titles. Not exactly a “murders row” but three titles is still three titles. Their best competition in the playoffs came from fellow Eastern Conference teams. The second three peat club bested the Jazz twice and the Seattle Super Sonics.
When the “modern age” of the NBA began is up for debate. Some say it was after the Bulls second three peat. Other people swear it was when Larry and Magic entered the NBA. I have even heard a debate for it starting when Shaq and Kobe teamed up for the Lakers. I’d personally argue that the modern age of the NBA began in 1986 because it was the last year CBS aired an NBA playoff game on tape delay, Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and the Rockets. The game aired at 11:30 Eastern Time following a 9:30pm tip. It’s probably stunning for younger NBA fans to learn the NBA playoffs used to be tape delayed. It wasn’t just a one off either, lots of games were tape delayed over the years.
The Laker, from 2000 through 2003, three peated against the Pacers, 76ers and Nets. Then you have the Spurs who may or may not be a dynasty. From 1999-2014 they won five titles, which is an amazing accomplishment but they never three peated. Heck, they never went back to back. The Heat went back to back and what about the current Golden State Warriors? They have won three of the past five NBA titles. Nope…I am not saying they are a dynasty.
The best dynasty of all-time has to be the Boston Celtics. From 1959 through 1969 (10 years) they won eight titles. That is stunning. I don’t care what sport it is, what level it is, etc., winning eight titles in ten years is mind blowing. Not only did they win eight titles but they won eight in a row. Those years belonged to Boston. Philadelphia broke the streak in 1967 winning the championship behind Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer and Chet Walker but Boston bounced back and hoisted the trophy the next two seasons.
The Bulls have a way to go to match Boston and Los Angeles for all time titles. Boston has won seventeen NBA Championships and lost four. The Lakers have won sixteen titles and went down to defeat 15 times. Golden State is 6-5, Chicago is 6-0 and the Spurs are 5-1 to round out the top five. Who will be the next dynasty in the NBA?
NBA Playoffs- For the first time in a few years, the NBA landscape is as open as ever. We did not come into the season knowing who was going to win each conference. Instead, we named off anywhere from six to ten contenders that we could legitimately see having a chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. While teams like the Trailblazers and the Jazz, who many had as some of the aforementioned contenders, have gotten off to disappointing starts; there are still plenty of teams that are making a case for why they will be the last standing team. The Lakers and Bucks are leading their respective conferences after going through double-digit winning streaks. The Clippers have beaten the Lakers twice and even with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George missing multiple games, they have put together a nice resume. The James Harden-led Rockets keep winning games despite the doubters, the Celtics have despite losing Kyrie and not having Gordon Hayward consistently. The Raptors lost two of their starters from last year, including the Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, and have had numerous injuries to Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol. But they too have persevered. Nikola Jokic looks a step slower, but the Nuggets depth has them second in the west, and the Miami Heat have looked like a top-three NBA team at times this year. The Sixers, while sixth in the east right now, are still built for the playoffs and have the size and now the veteran leadership of Al Horford to possibly make a run as well. Even the Pacers, who are somehow 5th in the east without Victor Oladipo will be a tough out in the playoffs. That is 10 teams in the NBA that we can say could possibly make it to the conference finals. Something we could not say in 2019.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rise- We saw Antetokounmpo took huge leaps the last few years in his scoring, physique, and passing, but the one trend with his game and criticism has been his jump shot. While he is not Ray Allen, Steph Curry, or even Peja Stojakovic (if you don’t know him, look him up), Antetokounmpo has become a willing and capable shooter from 3. That is still the shot you want to make him take, but he is showing that he can actually make them now. He is taking 5.1 three-pointers this year which is nearly double his attempts from last year and is shooting a respectable %32.7 this year. If he can keep this up and even bring that percentage up a bit more, Antetokounmpo could be on his way to getting his face up on the Mt. Rushmore of the NBA.
NBA Trade Deadline- With so many players changing teams this past offseason, not many players could be dealt before December 15th. That led to there only being one trade since the Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook swap. For fans of bad teams or just casual NBA fans, trades can be an exciting plot twist to the season. With so many teams on the cusp of competing and getting over the hump, it will be interesting to see if the likes of Kevin Love, Marcus Morris, Andre Iguodala, and even Karl-Anthony Towns will be moved.
Zion Williamson- The number one pick, and possibly the most hyped-up college basketball player since LeBron James has not played a single NBA regular-season game yet and while the Pelicans have every reason to play it safe and take their time bringing him back, the fans all over the league are salivating to see the former Duke star. There are reports that the Pelicans will roll out their prized rookie in January.
The 2020 NBA draft- Unlike last year, there is no consensus number 1 pick right now. James Wiseman was a hot name but he has withdrawn from Memphis University, which could possibly impact his draft position. LeMelo Ball has gained a lot of praise for maturing and playing very well in a professional league in Australia. Cole Anthony, another point guard, started the season with a lot of hype at UNC but his recent knee injury may also be a concern to teams come draft time. It will be interesting to see these players fighting for that number one spot.
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It is that stretch of the NBA season in which things just seem to be kind of a dull. While some teams have found their groove, there are also some teams are doing whatever it can to just hobble into the All-Star break. Continue reading →
Karl Anthony Towns is the real deal and will take another step to becoming the next big star. The finals will be Cavaliers and the Warriors facing off yet again. The Jazz have a high chance of finally making it back to the playoffs. Continue reading →
With the draft and the hectic part of free agency over with, most of the teams have filled out their roster. With that in mind, I have tried to come up with a prediction of what the standings will look like when it all plays out. Continue reading →