Written on 30/04/18
This year’s NBA Playoffs have been full of twists and turns, with matchups that have already been dubbed absolute classics. As a NBA fan who has only started following with intrigue over the last five to eight years, the talent that exists throughout the league is unparalleled to anything I have witnessed in sport. The league has everything from young talent in Anthony Davis, Donovan Mitchell, and of course, Australian Ben Simmons, through to the experience of fifteen-year veteran Lebron James, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant.
I have always had a particularly soft spot for Ben Simmons who is the greatest prospect to ever come out of Australia. He is touted to be next big thing to hit the NBA, and at the young age of 21, the things he does on the basketball court, on the biggest stage of all makes it even more impressive. His awareness on the court, through his unbelievable size for a Point Guard makes him a generational talent, which should glue Philadelphia to the Playoffs for years to come. Simmons should run away with the Rookie of the Year in a canter, and Philadelphia should find their way in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Donovan Mitchell, the other candidate for the NBA Rookie of the Year had led a Utah team that had very limited chances of making the Playoffs at the start of the season. Donovan was the 13th overall pick, so he has played the whole season with a chip on his shoulder considering he wasn’t drafted at a higher pick. This is something that I can really resonate with and has allowed for me to thoroughly enjoy Donovan take on the OKC Thunder in the first round and win. OKC had last year’s MVP in Russell Westbrook playing for them, but it did not matter, Utah and Donovan compounded OKC’s ability to take over games and did not allow them to have a major impact on the series.
On the converse of all the young talent that exists throughout the league, is the older talent that continues to dominate the league at an absolute elite level. The art of Lebron James and his ability to dominate teams at the ripe old age of thirty-three, mystifies the followers of the NBA. Considering my age, I never got the opportunity to watch Michael Jordan in his prime. He is arguably the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All-Time) of NBA Basketball. The things that he did on a basketball have only really ever been matched by Lebron. In that respect, I am truly blessed to have witnessed Lebron James take over matches (similarly to MJ,) like he did in the first round of the playoffs, averaging 41.2 points in Cleveland victories.
Teams like Houston, Golden State and the Toronto Raptors are still alive, and will continue on their quest for NBA glory. These teams have the players, and other than the addition of Chris Paul to Houston, they are the same and will continue to challenge these young and inexperienced teams. The cohesion of these experienced franchises has been like poetry at times, as they dictate games in their own specific fashion.
These playoffs have had everything. We are in an incredibly lucky time as a NBA fan. We have witnessed these young superstars flourish into composed athletes as they progress from the first round and into the second. We have seen the assertiveness of Lebron James, and we have seen the cohesion of the experienced teams. With just over a month left in the season, how lucky are we?