The Brooklyn Nets are at the top of many people’s predictions for winning the NBA championship this year. This likely does not come as much of a surprise, given the Nets are commonly recognized as one of the NBA’s superteams. What likely surprises people more is Utah Jazz making it to the top five predictions for finals this year, given their absence in the championships for over 20 years.
Why is this? Is it that Utah Jazz is not a very talented team? Have they not worked well together in the past? This is just one example of a team that has not won a championship in a while; the Sacramento Kings have not taken home a victory since 1951. Is this an absence of talent and/or teamwork? Perhaps, but another logical answer, and a theory that has gained footing recently, is the existence of NBA superteams.
The breakdown of what actually qualifies as a superteam is a bit complicated. Experts classify a superteam as starting with the player acquisition from either a sign or a trade (specifically not through a draft), containing at least three-star players (which leads into being under 34, recognition from within their previous three seasons, and ranking in the top 15 among the NBA), and one superstar player among the top five rankings from the most recent season. That’s a whole lot of luck, circumstance, and fighting for players. It’s difficult for a team to become a super team; yet, currently, it seems any given team needs to be one in order to win a championship.
In the simplest format possible, the past decade of NBA championships have looked like this, with the bolded teams coming out victorious:
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics (2010)
Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat (2011)
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Miami Heat (2012)
San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat (2013)
San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat (2014)
Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (2015)
Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (2016)
Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (2017)
Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (2018)
Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors (2019)
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat (2020)
The same nine teams have been in every championship for the past eleven years. There are currently 30 teams within the NBA; that means, for over a decade, 21 teams have never seen the finals. Surely this can be chalked up to talent and chemistry within these teams — or, these superteams are, in a way, hogging the best players.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with teams holding on to their best players; that’s part of the game. What this means, though, is that teams who aren’t currently considered superteams are going to have to jump through hoops to get to that level. Chances are, we’ll be seeing the same nine (maybe ten, if Utah Jazz can keep up the hype for this season) teams dominating the NBA.
Featured Image: Courtesy of NBA.com