The wind beneath whose wings …
The NBA season is now in full swing and in the lead-up to the always important Christmas Day schedule , teams will certainly be looking to play with a great deal more consistency than with the initial start to their season.
Defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors are certainly proving why they are the best team in the league and also have the best starting lineup by far. There is no other team in the NBA with greater depth and certainly they have the best head coach currently coaching in the game.
Steve Kerr has experienced it all as a player , head coach and brought a sense of stability and intellect needed to a Warriors’ franchise , which it lacked under Kerr’s predecessor Mark Jackson . Add in the fact among the franchise’s front office , you have Jerry West as a consultant and an astute general manager with the acumen of Bob Myers and you can see why the Warriors remain ahead of the curve both on and off the court.
The same cannot be said for a litany teams around the NBA and that is with due respect to the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers , New York Knicks , Sacramento Kings , Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers , all of whom are simply bringing the NBA to its knees , if not lying on its back , prostrate. Simply look at their respective records within their divisions , conference and the league overall as a reason why they are and remain so bad.
When Joe Lacob and Peter Guber made the decision to buy the Golden State Warriors from former owner Chris Cohan, they sought to fix the problems often ignored by their predecessor and the front office.
Cohan, for his part , was often seen as an owner who simply didn’t care about the fate of the team during his tenure, just as long as he was able to share in the profits reaped not only by the team, but also the league in general. One has to remember , first and foremost the NBA as a brand is a major money-making business , which is presided over a group of executives whose major and primary concern has been to exact a degree of control over its brand , which makes it impossible for anyone to compete against them on any level.
The tyrannical rule seen under David Stern as the league’s commissioner, was one of complete authority, even if along the way there were buffoon-like decisions made along with a slew of mistakes and his even using race and gangster rap, as a selling point to market the NBA brand. Yet , I have been told countless times by a number of individuals , Stern was very good for the NBA. In reality, the former commissioner made use of Michael Jordan as the “tool” needed to sell the brand globally around the world . Now we are in the era of LeBron James and this league remains as popular as ever, even though there has been a marked decline in the quality of the play on the basketball court. In part , that could be down to the coaching and also the lack of real in-depth talent advancing from the college level over the past few years.
Adam Silver has succeeded David Stern as the NBA Commissioner and Silver looks to further the league’s ambition to expand beyond the North American continent. From my own perspective, while basketball might be one of the most popular sports in the world , second only to soccer. The league will be in for a hard sell in such places as Latin America , Western Europe and certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the NBA’s most successful advances have been made in Europe and on the Asian continent , where in particular , China has been the league’s big success. A billion-plus consumers to be embraced and you cannot go wrong and then add in the fact the country’s biggest sporting export Yao Ming still remains popular in China, even after his retirement and you can understand why the NBA seeks to have its tentacles firmly around the globe. Something , I firmly believe the hierarchies of the NFL, MLB and NHL have failed yet to grasp, when it comes to marketing their brands on the global market.
The Golden State Warriors on their march to seeking a second consecutive NBA title have been blowing past opponents and leaving them in their rear view mirror. Reigning NBA League MVP Steph Curry , is having another banner year and his teammates are following his lead. Defensively, as good as they are , the Warriors can still get better and the question now on everyone’s lips , which team can inflict Golden State’s first loss of the season. At 22-0 , the Warriors are just eleven games away from equaling the longest consecutive winning streak in NBA history, a mark held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Another five-straight wins by Golden State would see them equal the second longest mark set by Miami Heat during the 2012-13 NBA season.
In their last game the Golden State Warriors in a contest , which pitted them against the Indiana Pacers . A home loss for the Pacers in a 131-123 defeat pushed Indiana’s record to 12-9 for the fifth best record in the Eastern Conference. The Warriors’ next game will see them on the road to face the Boston Celtics , where we are likely to see Golden State improve their road record as well as against another Eastern Conference opponent.
While the Golden State Warriors are being praised for their success this season , for the teams at the bottom end of the NBA and the continued ineptitude shown. I don’t know that a great deal more needs to be said about the play of the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers , Brooklyn Nets , New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. Ineptitude this season , shall we say, is the new normal ?
Brett Brown , head coach of the 76ers, is a franchise, which is bereft of talent on the court , but even more among so the coaching staff and front office . Having recently won their first game of the season , the Sixers can rest assured no one is really concerned what they do over the remainder of their schedule, much less the idiocy of those who believe GM Sam Hinkie is building something which will be of benefit to the franchise and their long-term future. This is the sort of prevailing idiocy which is now prevalent around the NBA, with the fans and analysts alike. Once, the several of these younger players (rookies) have fulfilled their contractual obligations with Sixers , I believe a number of them will be getting as far away from Philadelphia as fast as they can, without taking a look in their rear view mirrors !
Rajon Rondo may well be resurrecting his career with the Sacramento Kings , but the team will not be going anywhere at all this season. George Karl, as experienced a coach as he is, has to be provided with a team willing to play, one which plays with a great deal of zeal. Clearly not the case with Sacramento at home or on the road this season. A six-point victory over the Utah Jazz by the Sacrament Kings may well have provided the Kings with some respite momentarily but they will be in for something of a test when they face the New York Knicks at home on Thursday evening. For the New York Knicks, this will give the Derek Fisher coached team a chance to improve their record against Western Conference opponents. While there might be a great deal which the Knicks’ fans feel they can rejoice about , at this point of the season, with a 10-12 record within the East and 2 ½ games behind the eighth placed , Orlando Magic (12-9) , is not necessarily a great place to be for a franchise , where their fans as well as the front office believe the team is capable of making the NBA Playoffs this season.
LeBron James might well be considered the best player in the NBA since his entrance as the number one pick during the 2003 NBA Draft . The ensuing years have provided the fans with just about everything they expected and a great deal more. As LeBron seeks to guide the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA title, the player seems to be making all the right commercial moves off the court , while still making a considerable salary on the court. James’ signing of a lifetime $500 million contract , further enhances his viability as the NBA’s highest-profile and commercially viable marketing asset, the league currently has. The deal with Nike Inc, will push the player’s lifetime earnings in excess of $1 billion. If the rumors are to be believed then the player could be joining his personal icons Michael Jordan and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson of becoming not only major sports’ icons , but also billionaire status .
The Cleveland Cavaliers have not proven to be as dominant as some believed they would be this season and already the team has suffered some rather embarrassing losses against opponents, which many felt were beneath them. Over their last six games heading into Wednesday night the Cleveland Cavaliers have posted 3-3 record , hardly emblematic of a team seeking to be the best within their conference. Granted, the Cavaliers do have the best record , but they have been far from dominant within the Eastern Conference. In their last game Cleveland had to overcome pesky Portland Trailblazers , who they defeated 105-100. Prior to that game, they lost a lopsided decision to the Miami Heat , while they were without LeBron James for the contest. The next game for the Cavaliers will see them take on the Orlando Magic at the Amway Arena , Orlando, Florida on Thursday , 11th December ,2015.
It would be fair to suggest there are no more than a handful of teams in the Western Conference likely to be able to derail the chances of the Golden State Warriors making a successful defense of their NBA title. Among those , I would count the Oklahoma City Thunder , Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs to be among the teams in question ! Of the three franchises mentioned , the Spurs with their depth might be the team capable of making that a reality. The fact that Gregg Popovich and RC Buford were able to pull of such a coup in acquiring both LaMarcus Aldridge and David West only adds to the fabled accomplishments of both executives .
San Antonio currently has the second-best record in the league and the conference behind the undefeated Golden State Warriors. Certainly, when these two teams meet in the first of their regular season meetings , it is likely to be one the games of the season and most definitely the game of the night, when this contests takes place. These two teams will meet four times times over the course of this season as part of their schedule, with those games being contested on the following dates, 25th January, 19th March, 7th April and the final meeting between the two taking place on the 10th April . Last season both the Warriors and Spurs put on an exhilarating display in each of the three games held as they sought conference supremacy .
Tim Duncan and his San Antonio Spurs’ teammates will next take to the court when they are due to face Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant having announced this will be his his last season in the NBA, will not be going out with a splash, but more so, on a somber note as the Lakers’ season is already imperiled due to the poor play by the entire roster and poor coaching of Byron Scott .
The only way is up , from here-on in concerning the Los Angeles Lakers, but I believe it is too steep a mountain which this franchise is incapable of climbing . simply because of the lack of intelligence shown by the team’s owners Jim and Jeanie Buss, while GM Mitch Kupchak remains clueless in his assessment of talent and how to put a competitive together. Six years on from their last NBA title triumph , the Lakers have labored in a pool of acrid mediocrity .
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What have you found to be the most impressive statistic witnessed at this point of the NBA season and do you believe the Christmas schedule will play a large part in what we could very well see over the remainder of the NBA schedule ?