5 things we learned from the 2012/13 NBA season
As the NBA off-season continues to take shape, there are several storylines that no NBA team will forget about following this season. Although there are plenty to remember, I found these five to be the most intriguing…
1. LeBron is clutch
As the best player in the world, there is no one that takes the amount of criticism that LeBron takes on a daily basis. Mostly about how he is not a clutch performer. But the numbers don’t lie. He’s led the Miami Heat to three straight NBA Finals winning the last two of them. Excluding 2011 when they were defeated by the Dallas Mavericks, he has faced elimination several times in the past two playoffs and both times he delivered. In the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals when they were down 3-2 against the Boston Celtics and in Game 6 in Boston tallied 45 points and 15 rebounds as the Heat won 98-79 to force a Game 7. And in Game 7 of this year’s NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, James scored 37 points in a 95-88 victory.
2. The shift in LA is here to stay
As crazy as it sounds, the Clippers are the best basketball team in Los Angeles. For as long as any normal basketball fan can remember, the Lakers have ruled the basketball world in LA, but now the club faces several problems while the Clippers keep loading after a 56-26 season. After a widely disappointing season where they finished 45-37, many problems continue to linger for the NBA’s most well known franchise. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are at the end of their historic careers, Mike D’Antoni does not appear to be the answer at head coach and just last week star center Dwight Howard left the team to join Houston. Despite a disappointing exit in the First Round of the playoffs, the Clippers have made a splash this off season by locking up star guard Chris Paul for five seasons as well as acquiring head coach Doc Rivers from Boston. Tie all that in to the nucleus of young stars they have including Blake Griffin and the Clippers could be ruling the basketball world in Southern California for a long time.
3. Pop is one of the best ever
There’s no doubting that Gregg Popovich is a terrific coach. But after this season, he needs to be in the discussion as one of the best ever. After leading the San Antonio Spurs to the NBA Finals for the fifth time this past season, he has continued to show his longevity as a head coach. Even though they were defeated by Miami, he continues to bring in and develop players to produce a winner with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili always being at the center of it all. And as underdogs to a much younger Miami team, his Spurs were able to push the NBA’s most dominant team to the brink before falling in Game 7. Pop has a .681 winning percentage in his time in San Antonio.
4. No job is safe
Even after successful seasons, some high name coaches were recently let go. George Karl, who won the NBA Coach of the Year, was fired after a disappointing first round exit to Golden State. Same with Vinny Del Negro. After leading the Clippers to their best season in years he was let go following a first round defeat to Memphis. And probably this most head scratching firing had to be Lionel Hollins. His Grizzlies defeated the Clippers in the first round and then defeated top seeded Oklahoma City in the conference semis before getting swept by San Antonio in the conference finals. You would think winning Coach of the Year or leading your team to the conference finals would keep your job safe. I guess not.
5. Golden State is the next big thing
It’s hard not to like this young and exciting Golden State Warriors team. After upsetting Denver in the first round before losing a hard fought series to San Antonio in the second round, the Warriors certainly gave NBA fans a lot to think about. For one thing, they have a terrific core. Some of them being young players while others are veterans headlined by Stephen Curry and David Lee. On top of that, Mark Jackson has proved in just two seasons that he is going to be a terrific NBA coach. Finally, the team just added Andre Iguodala, a US Olympian, who has averaged 15.1 points per game in his nine year career. Many people are saying that the Warriors could be the next Oklahoma City Thunder and could be in the NBA Finals before we know it. I buy it.