It seemed that the championship ring won by the Los Angeles Lakers two seasons ago was one of the strangest to win so far.
The “Lakers” then reached the 17th title in the club’s history in a kind of “bubble” in Orlando, and thus equaled Boston on the list of the most trophy-winning clubs in the NBA league.
The protocols that the basketball players had to follow, the very concept of such a tournament, that is. finals, empty stands, as well as all other conditions have influenced many to take the Lakers title with a grain of salt.
NBA analysts, numerous players and fans, believed that the title, as special and strange as it was, must be conducted under an asterisk, that is. a small asterisk at the bottom of the page.
Two seasons and a little over a year later, the impression is that the Lakers’ title in the “bubble” is still good compared to the one that this year’s champion will win.
It’s not about money or basketball players, it’s about the coronavirus and injuries
Coronavirus and injuries have completely cut, shaped and predetermined the fate of this NBA season.
It started with basketball players who did not want to be vaccinated, so they either knelt before the potential financial loss, or watched their club’s matches on TV so far this season.
As the season progressed, more and more players entered the coronavirus health protocol.
Teams that were decimated due to injuries even without the coronavirus (probably due to a short break between seasons and games), now either barely have enough players to play the game, or are forced to sign ten-day contracts with basketball players.
Thus, the NBA league had to regulate its rules, from how many players and how many ten-day contracts the team can bring basketball players to, the duration of the coronavirus protocol, which was reduced to six days and fewer negative tests.
The record for the number of players in the league was also broken, since this season 541 players were on the field at one point or had an active contract.
It can often be heard that players have no idea with whom they all share the locker room and that they meet their teammates at matches.
All this has led to the NBA completely losing its meaning and the zeal for which many love it.
Instead of NBA stars, we see basketball players who have returned from retirement on a ten-day contract so that games can be held at all.
That is why, just for the sake of example, the Christmas duel between the Lakers and the Nets was anything but a spectacle.
When the plan was made for the games to be played at that time, the Lakers and the Nets were placed as teams that are tough favorites for the title, full of NBA stars, talents, who will measure their strength and make a show in the new name of the arena where the “Lakers” play. which will be talked about for a long time.
The reality was different, since there were no Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Lamarcus Aldridge on the floor …
Instead of a clash of the titans, we watched Harden against LeBron and then Bruce Brown against Stanley Johnson, and that was certainly not the point of that game.
A few days later, Brooklyn was a guest of the Clippers, which was also supposed to be a great game, full of talented basketball players.
In part, that was the case, but it would certainly have been completely different if the Irving-Durant duo had played for Brooklyn, and George-Leonard for the Clippers.
Several matches could not even take place, as one or both teams did not have a minimum number of eight available players.
The postponement of the matches additionally affected the chaos in the already crowded schedule and put an additional burden on the players and organizations.
In the whole mess, many crippled teams could not come together, because they were not a pale shadow of what they imagined at the beginning of the season and what their lineup was supposed to represent.
And while excuses are attached to many teams, which justify defeats and poor placement on the table, those teams that played great were stronger than personnel problems – many reduce their success, talk about luck, schedule, incomplete opponents and many other factors.
Pleasant surprises and favorites for the title
Teams that have done extremely well this season, despite all the problems, are mostly those that have an elaborate, well-coordinated (often long-standing) system, in which it is easier to put a newcomer, reserve or “hired” player for 10 days.
In the East, it’s Chicago, Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Miami and believe it or not, Cleveland.
The western part of the NBA league was marked by Golden State, Phoenix, Utah, Memphis and to some extent Denver and the Clippers.
Current champions – Milwaukee bucks, were visibly tired at the beginning of the new season and barely managed to maintain a positive result after the opening dozen matches.
However, as time went on, Janis and his team came to their game, defeated opponents and personnel problems, achieved good results and ended 2021 as the third-ranked team in the East.
Chicago Bulls, finally put the dice together, brought the right players to the right positions and again, after a break of almost ten years, are a factor in the NBA league.
Vučević is a walking double-double in the center position, Lavin and Derozan are professional scorers, Lonzo Bol is a traditional playmaker, and Caruso is the favorite and favorite of the fans wherever he plays for a reason.
The Illinois team once again has the best placement in the East, for the first time since the era of Derrick Rose, and Bulls fans have reason to be optimistic and happy.
Brooklyn nets are definitely one of the weirdest stories of the NBA season.
It started with the Irving affair, which openly refused vaccination and because of that, for now, he has watched 34 games of his team on TV.
Although Brooklyn started the season with three defeats in the first five matches, although it seemed that Durant and Harden needed “crazy geniuses” Kyrie Irving, the Nets found the winning formula and recorded 21 wins and six defeats in the next 27 games.
Even more impressive is the fact that Brooklyn has done a lot of work and victory without Durant, who was also injured in the coronavirus security protocol.
Miami hit has, now traditionally, found new sources of energy, brought players under the radar and it seems that “Godfather” Pat Riley is once again sharing lessons with officials of other teams.
“Vrelina” made a great combination of youth and experience, so every night someone else “jumps out”, be it veterans Lauri, Butler, Haslem, Tucker, Dedmon, or fresh blood brought by Hiro, Robinson, Jurtseven, Vincent, Martin, Strus .
One of the most pleasant surprises of the season is definitely the team Cleveland Cavaliers.
Ever since LeBron’s second departure, the Ohio team has mostly served as a mockery, to fill in segments of some “Shaqtin ‘a fool” episode, or a third destination in very strange trades.
However, Cleveland is finally acting as a team that is fighting for victory, which has a bright future in the league and as a team that is being talked about in a positive context.
The young core that has gathered in the past years, and which consists of Sexton, Garland, Allen and Okoro, received reinforcements in the recent draft in the form of Mobli, which is the favorite for the rukia of the year.
Also, the identity of Kavs is given by experienced players in high positions such as Leo and Davis, but also Europeans: Rubio, Markanen, Osman.
Unfortunately, the Spaniard got injured, so the Cleveland management reacted by bringing Razon Rondo, so it remains to be seen whether Rondo can still be a factor in the playoffs.
The Western Conference, like the previous ten years, attracts special attention and has a different energy, so it is the same in this crazy season.
Golden State Warriors, for a long time and with good reason they had the best effect of victories and defeats in the entire league and once again proved that they have a unique and efficient system in today’s basketball.
After a couple of seasons they didn’t spend at the top of the NBA league, and not even near that peak, the “warriors” are certainly returning there.
On the wings of the maestro Steph Curry (now officially the best shooter in the history of basketball), who is the first favorite to win the MVP award, Golden State unlocks a new dimension of basketball.
Of course, it’s not all in Curry, but also in Steve Carr’s brilliantly designed system, Draymond Green’s basketball intelligence, but also guys like Pula, Wiggins, Porter, Peyton Jr., Bjelica, Igodala, Tuscany-Anderson and others, who reluctantly accepted their roles. and who enjoy them.
It is certain that in San Francisco, they can hardly wait for Clay Thompson and James Wiseman to recover.
Like Golden State, they are loyal to their system and players Phoenix chance.
The team that defeated all competitors in the West last season, and in the new season proves its quality and that the placement in the grand final of the NBA League was not accidental at all.
Despite the problems at the top of the organization, the playing staff does the job on the field. The core of the team has been retained, the system has not changed, coach Williams continues to delight and Sansi is rightly considered a team that does not want to be on the road in the playoffs.
As for the rest of the West, Utah is also the definition of a team, but their problems and troubles are somehow always shown only in the playoffs, Memphis shows tremendous desire and success, despite a limited roster, while The Denver and Clippers men are battling injuries and coronavirus.
Denver nagetsi are left to Nikola Jokic and his brilliant mind, and despite the absences of Mario, Porter Jr., Maurice, Dozir, and even in a couple of Gordon games, Denver manages to keep a positive performance and a high fifth position in the West.
LA clippers are just below them, which is fascinating considering that they have been completely without Leonard so far this season, and recently without George.
Unpleasant surprises and failed projects
As already mentioned, many teams have a huge number of excuses for failures, but taking the reputation of these franchises, we should not be comforted by that.
First on the list the most unpleasant surprises this season are definitely the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron gathered his old friends, but that project fell apart even before they came together.
“Jezeraši” is the oldest team in the league, but also the team that suffered the most injuries and had the largest number of infected players.
This has largely shaped their games, but it must be emphasized that defense, commitment and team chemistry are more problems for the Lakers than coronavirus.
In addition to the Lakers, they were also quite disappointing Dallas Mavericks, as well as Portland Trail Blazers.
At the beginning of the season, the team from Texas relied too much on Luka Dončić, who is not physically fit enough, so now that the Slovenian basketball player is not in the protocol, they are recording games on the principle of “hot-cold”, which can cost you the playoffs in the West.
Portland, despite an interesting roster, plays below all expectations, so rumors about the departure of Lillard or McCallum make sense. The impression is that this year the team from Oregon will not reach the playoffs and that this will be the end of Portland as we remember in previous years.
As for the East, the four teams that stood out in a negative context are: Filafelfi, Boston, Toronto and Atlanta.
Philadelphia seventies they didn’t know how to deal with Ben Simons, who is still not traded, nor does it occur to him to play for the team he has a contract with.
On the other hand, the selected coaches of Rivers – Embid, Harris and the team, do not seem to be capable and of such quality that they maintain a high level of basketball and achieve victories more regularly.
Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks occupy unexpectedly very low positions 10, 11 and 12.
Injuries to key players are a huge factor that influenced such a ranking, but much more was expected from the teams that were at the top of the conference in previous years, and the most disappointing impression is that these teams have come to terms with failures and that there is nothing from this season serious.
In any case, it is up to the strongest to survive, adapt and try to reach the desired goal, and it is up to the others to continue living in excuses and console themselves that the next season will be better.