25 June 2012

NBA 2011-2012 season retrospective

The lockout-shortened 2011-2012 NBA season has ended. LeBron James has won his first Larry O'Brien trophy, and the long wait for next year has begun.

Some of my thoughts about the last few months:

1. A lot of NBA is about help and circumstance. If LeBron starts his career in Los Angeles with Shaq in 2000 he wins several rings by this point. If Kobe gets drafted by the Cavs in 2004, he has zero. LeBron needed the contributions of Wade, of Bosh and even the help of Mike Miller to win it all.

2. Durant will get his rings, assuming he gets similar help. Dude averaged 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (!) and six rebounds in the Finals. It's not really his fault Westbrook was largely bad (absent one amazing performance) or that Harden couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Trade supporting casts and I think Durant wins Round 1 of this budding rivalry.

3. The Lakers are done. Kobe is too much an alpha dog, and getting paid way too much money ($27 and $30 million the next two seasons) to take a backseat and let someone else lead the team. He simply doesn't have it in him to be the leader of a championship-level team anymore. And so he'll keep shooting 40%, taking 25 shots a game and submarining his team's chances to win.

4. As impressive as Chris Paul was this season, I don't think his style of offense where he controls the ball 95% of the time is viable for a championship squad. Derrick Rose tried it with the Bulls last season and the Heat just shut him down and that was it. Basketball needs more ball movement to work, in my opinion.

5. Deron Williams very quietly averaged 21 points and 9 assists for New Jersey. The Nets went 22-44. I wonder if Utah looks any better now.

6. Speaking of the Jazz, I have no idea what to expect from this team this fall. So much depends on the development of three super young players in Favors, Hayward and Kanter. CJ Miles is not under contract, which is good, in my opinion, but I think the team needs another legit shooter, game in and game out.

7. The Celtics are done, and I don't think the Rose-lead Bulls are getting past the Heat anytime soon. Barring a sudden upswing in Atlanta or Orlando or somewhere, it's Miami's conference to lose for the next bit.

Anyway, it was a great season with some highly entertaining playoff basketball to cap it off. Here's to another one in a few weeks.