Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Lots of new title contenders in the NBA

Golden State’s Klay Thompson is one of the best shooters in the NBA and a big part of the Warriors’ success.
Golden State’s Klay Thompson is one of the best shooters in the NBA and a big part of the Warriors’ success.

One criticism of professional sports, which I don’t always buy into, is that’s they’re too predictable.

The same teams win over and over. There are the haves and the have-nots and the discrepancy between the two is wider than the Grand Canyon.

Parity is a falsehood, the critics say.

I’m not one who buys into all of that. I think there is parity in most professional sports leagues. For instance, going into the 2015 Major League Baseball season, I believe all but a few teams – Houston, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona, Philadelphia – hold out some hope that they’ll be in contention.

Some have more legitimate and reality-based hope than others. Still, it’s pretty good that 24 teams can point to something that gives them hope of reaching the 2015 postseason.

Which brings us to the NBA.

This has been a fascinating season so far. The two best teams in the league, record wise, are the Atlanta Hawks (40-9) and Golden State Warriors (38-8).

Did you ever think you’d be saying a Hawks-Warriors NBA Finals would be a dream come true? Well, it would be.

Of course, there’s a ways to go in the NBA regular season. Things can change.

But as of right now, the teams with the eight best records in the league have won a combined five championships.

Atlanta, Golden State, Memphis (36-12), Houston (33-15), Portland (33-16), Toronto (33-16), LA Clippers (33-16) and Washington (31-18) are the best of the best in the NBA this season.

Lakers? Celtics? Bulls? Spurs? Heat?

All are missing from the league’s upper echelon.

This is great, isn’t it?

The Raptors, Grizzlies, Clippers and Wizards have never won an NBA championship.

The Hawks were in St. Louis when that franchise won its only title, in 1958.

The Warriors haven’t won since 1975; the Trail Blazers won their only championship in 1977.

Houston did win back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995 when they were led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. But the Rockets have had a long dry spell since.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are also in the mix this season, thanks to a recent hot streak and a team that is coming together with LeBron James. The Cavs are another team without an NBA championship.

It’s great when a team like Atlanta comes out of nowhere to put together a 19-game winning streak. There are still those who are reluctant to believe the Hawks are a serious championship contender, which is crazy.

There are so many fresh faces, so many new and rising stars who play for these eight teams. Whether you’ve heard of many of them is another matter.

Atlanta’s three best players are Paul Milsap, Jeff Teague and Al Horford.

Toronto is led by All-Star starting guard Kyle Lowry, along with DeMar DeRozan, Louis Williams and Jonas Valancounas.

Washington has rising stars John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Memphis has been in contention a lot of late, but hasn’t been able to break through. Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley are out to change that.

Houston has players like Trevor Ariza, Donatas Motiejunas, Corey Brewer and Patrick Beverly playing key roles behind James Harden and Dwight Howard.

Portland’s Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge are two of the best players in the league we rarely stay up late enough to see.

The Clippers have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but supporting players Jamal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick are having big seasons.

And then there’s Golden State, with long-range bombers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

The Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans, with Anthony Davis, are still in the mix for the playoffs. I’ll bet you don’t know much about either of those teams, either.

The new blood makes the NBA more interesting to me. I’m looking forward to getting caught up in the playoffs, to see how this shakes out. There’s a freshness to the league this season.

Thanks for reading.