3 Takeaways From The NBA Finals

By: Nate Leer

Last night’s NBA game 7 was a rare treat – a great game 7 between former champs and MVPs that could very well be repeated again at this time next year. I picked the Cavs in 7 games so the outcome was particularly satisfying to me but that is really besides the point – it was basketball being played at the absolute highest level with everything at stake. Let’s face it, if anything less than that were at stake, Irving and Love would not have played as hard as they did (sorry, obligatory cheap shot at a couple of players who seemed to underachieve most of the year).

So, here are 3 things to take away from the 2016 Finals as we head into the offseason:

  1. The NBA at it’s best is as fun to watch as any sport and the competition at the top of the league is damn near as good as it has ever been. If you agree that Curry is an all-time great shooter, Klay isn’t far behind and LeBron is a top-7 or so player ever (see below), then these teams are close to as good as the Jordan Bulls or Magic Lakers or Bad Boy Pistons, etc. During Golden State’s regular season run to the 73-win record, I, like many fans, did a mental comparison to the 72-win Bulls team. Sure, I think the Bulls would have won a series between the teams but Golden State would have matched up pretty well across the board – average centers, great primary and secondary scorers, intense power forwards, deep benches with players that know and fit their roles. As for the Cavs, they have an all-time great, another player that looks like a potential HOFer in Irving (IF he plays at a level near what he did in the playoffs) as well as an legit All-Star in Love. Not too shabby.
  2. LeBron is legitimatley a top-10 player all-time and arguably top-5. The PTI guys put LeBron in the top-5 all-time but I think I still put Jordan, Russell, Magic, Kareem and Wilt ahead of him. That puts LeBron, right now, in a group with Bird, Kobe, Shaq, West and a couple others as the next tier of all-time greats. I put LeBron ahead of any of those players in the second list based on his unique athletic ability, unparalled versatility and the fact that he is not done yet – more rings, All-Star appearances and records may well be in his future.
  3. The Cavs winning sets up the potential for a GREAT, best 2 of 3 rematch next year. Clearly the Cavs will be the favorites in the East as long as LeBron stays. Golden State would also figure to be the favorite in the West if their roster returns relatively intact. Depending on where Durant ends up and how the Spurs roster shakes out, the Warriors may well be the clear favorite. Below is a list of the important contributors for each team and their contract situation for next year. A quick look at these players and their contracts shows that most are under team control. Harrison Barnes is the notable exception for Golden State but it is debatable how necessary he is to their success and the team will likely give him a qualifying offer with the right to match any other offers he receives.

Think about it: Cavs vs. Warriors, round 3, featuring the two best players in the league and a ton of other talented, mostly young players! Maybe we are in the early stages of a true, championship-level rivalry similar to the Laker-Celtics match-ups from the ’80s. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for 2016-17! But first the draft, and off-season – plenty more about that yet to come on Fan Sports Lists!

C – Andrew Bogut 2016-17: $12,681,081, PF – Draymond Green, 2016-17: $15,330,435, SF – Harrison Barnes 2016-17: $5,194,227 {Qualifying Offer}, SG – Klay Thompson 2016-17: $16,663,575, PG – Stephen Curry 2016-17: $12,112,359, F – Andre Iguodala 2016-17: $11,131,368, G – Leandro Barbosa 2016-17: UFA, C – Festus Ezeli, 2016-17: $3,013,123 {Qualifying Offer}, G/F – Shaun Livingston 2016-17: $5,782,450 {Non-Guaranteed}, C – Marreese Speights 2016-17: UFA, C – Anderson Varejao 2016-17: $10,361,446 {Non-Guaranteed}

C – Tristan Thompson 2017-18: $16,400,000, PF – Kevin Love 2016-17: $21,165,675, SF – LeBron James 2016-17: $24,004,173 {Player Option}, SG – J.R. Smith 2016-17: $5,375,000 {Non-Guaranteed}, PG – Kyrie Irving 2016-17: $17,638,063, G – Matthew Dellavedova 2016-17: $1,434,095 {Qualifying Offer}, PF – Channing Frye 2016-17: $7,806,971, SG – Iman Shumpert 2016-17: $9,662,922, G – Mo Williams 2016-17: $2,194,500 {Player Option}, F – Richard Jefferson 2016-17: UFA, C – Timofey Mozgov 2016-17: UFA

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