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Ranking The NBA Finals Storylines

Jackson Safon |
June 3, 2015 | 11:40 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


LeBron and Steph are at the center of one of the most compelling Finals yet. (@TweetsAntoine/Twitter)
LeBron and Steph are at the center of one of the most compelling Finals yet. (@TweetsAntoine/Twitter)

The NBA Finals is always filled with storylines. This year, seemingly more than ever, there is an abundance of alleys that both the public and sports writers can go down into and find plenty of narratives and stories to go along with the basketball itself.

Perhaps it’s the star-studded game, led by the NBA’s best player and its MVP this year, or perhaps it’s just today’s digital age taking over. Whatever the reason, the storylines are as abundant as the anxiousness is among fans during the dire basketball-less week before the games begin.

Here’s five of the most compelling:

 1. Lebron’s Legacy

At this point, this almost seems overplayed. The debate over LeBron vs. Jordan is getting tiresome, even though it’s probably only just begun. The importance of this storyline cannot be overstated, however, because despite its tiresome discussion, it’s quite possibly the most important debate in basketball. Michael Jordan is the best basketball player of all time. He is. But very soon, there’s a potential for this argument to become a lot closer than some Jordan supporters would like.

Winning the NBA Finals this year would vault LeBron into the next level of greatness. Taking the former rag-tag castaways courtesy of the New York Knicks, the one-legged wonder Kyrie Irving and a guy who’s best known for getting posterized by Blake Griffin to the Finals is amazing as is, but winning it all with them would be otherworldly. Achieving victory with this squad, over arguably one of the best team of the 21st century, would be LeBron’s greatest achievement.   

2. Warriors’ place in history

If the Golden State Warriors win the NBA Finals they will have to be in the discussion for one of the best teams of all time. They are already tied for the sixth-best record in NBA history, and they did so in most dominating fashion. The 72-win 1996 Chicago Bulls and 67-win 1986 Boston Celtics are widely considered the two best teams of all time. But with 67 wins, the league’s MVP, the best shooting backcourt ever, two Defensive Player of the Year candidates, and off-the-charts metrics, this Warriors team has to be at least in the discussion.

Most will dismiss this debate quicker than they dismiss the idea that LeBron could end up being the best player ever. But the closer one looks into this Warriors team, the more impressive they become. Leading the league in defensive efficiency by large margin, and being right up there in offensive efficiency, the Warriors don’t appear to have a weakness. They’re scary good, and they need to be thought of in greater terms if they can emerge from these Finals victorious.

3. The Kevin Love Conundrum

During the offseason, the two teams with the biggest interest in Kevin Love were the Cavaliers and the Warriors. The Warriors wanted him badly, but would not meet the demands of the Timberwolves to give up Klay Thompson in the sign-and-trade. The Cavs, on the other hand, decided to rid LeBron of his potential Scottie Pippen-esque wingman Andrew Wiggins, and trade him for Love.

 While this story would be far more discussed if Love was actually playing in the Finals, it’s still a very interesting result given that the trade actually worked out for both teams. While Love didn’t live up to the hype in Cleveland, he still helped LeBron and the Cavs figure out their identity. 

The Warriors will forever be eternally grateful they didn’t make the move, not because of Love’s disappointing year, but because if they had, Mr. Jack-of-all-trades Draymond Green would not have emerged in full force like he did. Green is the lifeblood of the Warriors, and if Love were a Warrior, he would have likely started at power forward sticking Draymond on the bench. The Warriors would not be where they are if they had made the Kevin Love trade. These are wildly entertaining alternate universes to consider.

4. Rookie Head Coaches

Steve Kerr and David Blatt, two rookie head coaches, are meeting in the NBA Finals for the first time since the inaugural season in 1946-1947. One of the two will also become the first rookie head coach to win a championship since Pat Riley with the Lakers in 1982. But the far more fascinating caveat that gets glossed over is how Blatt was actually supposed to be an assistant on the Warriors coaching staff before being offered an interview for the Cavaliers’ opening.

These coaches have had wildly different amounts of support this year, with Kerr being the Coach of the Year award runner-up, and Blatt being blamed for the Cavs early season struggles, while receiving no credit for their turnaround. Blatt has somehow become one of the most underappreciated coaches in the NBA this year; a man who has made important adjustments during the season and in the playoffs, but receives no credit because LeBron is the one running the show. 

5. The NBA’s Evolving Brand of Basketball

The rise of the three-point shot in the NBA has been widely documented, with the last four teams remaining this year all being towards the top of the league in three pointers taken and made. But beyond that, fans have wondered all year whether or not the style of play the Golden State Warriors abide by can lead to a championship. The fast-paced, three point shooting this team employs reminds people of the “7-Second Suns” who were a joy to watch, but were never able to produce a championship.

 What the Warriors are out to prove is that their style of offense can absolutely win a championship. What they have that other teams who have tried to do the same thing lacked is an amazing defense and stellar shooters. The analytics have shown that average and above average three-point shooting is more efficient than scoring from the midrange. But when your team is exceptionally above average, with arguably the best shooter in NBA history playing point guard, a legit sniper at shooting guard and great shooting all over the floor, this style of offense not only becomes more efficient, it becomes lethal.

Reach Staff Reporter Jackson Safon here.



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