3. The NBA Loves Super Teams
The prize for winning the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, is the privilege to draft Zion Williamson of Duke University. The 6’7 forward won the Wooden award, posting averages of 22.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. The 285 pound Williamson is an athletic freak who will be the second heaviest player in the NBA, once he enters the league. Yet despite his weight, Zion is an aerial acrobat. He attacks the basket with zero regard for who is in his path. Zion is the most heralded player to come out of college since Anthony Davis in 2012 and perhaps the most anticipated player to enter the NBA Draft, since LeBron James in 2003.
Even though fans of non contending teams often complain about the lack of parity in the NBA, the NBA Loves super teams. Super teams lead to dynasties and dynasties have powered the NBA for many years. The clash of super teams between the Los Angeles Lakers led by Magic Johnson, versus the Boston Celtics with Larry Bird, saved a struggling NBA in the 1980s. The two teams met three times in the NBA Finals and won eight combined championships, in a nine-year span. Every NBA Finals series of the decade and 11 of the 12 series between 1980 and 1991 featured either the Lakers or Celtics in the NBA Finals.
The 1990s NBA was dominated by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, who won 6 championships in eight seasons, during what was a golden era for the NBA. The entire world was captivated by the charisma, skill and exciting above the rim style of Air Jordan. The NBA enjoyed record ratings because of that. The early 2000s were dominated by the dynamic duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, as well as the Tim Duncan led San Antonio Spurs. The two franchises combined to win every NBA title from 1999 to 2003, with the Lakers winning three of the five. The two teams also won a combined nine of the 12 NBA championships, awarded from 1999 to the year 2010, with Los Angeles winning five of the nine.
The San Antonio Spurs managed to add championship ring number five in 2014, but this decade has been controlled by LeBron James led teams and the Golden State Warriors. This year will end a steak of 11 straight seasons, that LeBron James has played on a team in the NBA Finals. LeBron James won two championships with the Miami Heat and one with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Golden state has dominated the recent part of the decade. The Warriors have won two consecutive rings led by Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. The Warriors have won three of the last four NBA titles overall and are the favorites to win another ring this season. Teams featuring Steph Curry and LeBron James in all, have combined to win six of the seven championships earned since 2012. Detractors can complain about the lack of parity until the cows come home, but clearly star power has ruled the NBA over the last four decades and the league is thriving because of it.
Many analysts contend that Zion Williamson, the latest potential star to enter the NBA, would best served playing in New York to help revive the Knicks. The Knicks are a marquee NBA franchise, in America’s number one media market, yet the NBA has thrived for more than 20 years without the New York Knicks being a factor. In fact under owner James Dolan, the Knicks have been one of the most dysfunctional and least successful franchises, in the National Basketball Association.
ESPN College Basketball analyst Jay Williams was recently asked by TMZ Sports which team needs Zion Williamson the most and which team would be best for his career. He was quoted as saying:
"“It would be kind of dope to see him (Zion Williamson) in ATL with Trae Young. That might be a sleeper pick right there.”"
Take a look at the Video of Jay Williams comments, provided by the TMZ YouTube channel:
Should Zion Williamson be drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, he would team with Rookie of the Year candidate Trey Young and Most Improved Player candidate John Collins. The trio along with sharp shooters Kevin Huerter and Taurean Prince, would have all the makings of a potential young super team. The Hawks will likely also have the ninth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. They could draft a center like 7’3 Bol Bol, to form the most difficult young team to guard that the NBA has seen, since the early 2010s Oklahoma City Thunder squads. Those teams featured three now NBA MVPs, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Coached by Lloyd Pierce, who was recently named an assistant coach for USA basketball, the Atlanta Hawks would be a definite box office draw. The club would sell out NBA arenas around the league. Pierce is widely respected around the NBA, having coached LeBron James in Cleveland and was an intrical part of the Philadelphia 76ers “process”. The Hawks becoming a major draw, is something that would definitely be profitable for the NBA. The Atlanta Hawks are building something special, something that free agents are certain to want to be a part of in the near future.