Friday, May 29, 2009

Timely NBA Preview

Kobe/Lebron was almost a certainty at the beginning of the playoffs. The coronation of King James would be almost complete and Kobe could take his transformation to pure evil with a unanimous crowd favorite to go against. It would be like Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker (or Austin Powers vs. Dr. Evil for non nerds). But with Kobe leading 3-2 and Lebron down 3-2, there is an increasing possibility that it won't be LA/Cleveland, Kobe/Lebron, Good vs. Evil, Jack vs. Locke (Sorry, had to get a Lost reference in somehow.)

The question that remains is whether this would be all that bad for the NBA if the LA/Cleveland match-up doesn’t happen. While there is still the chance that the Lakers and or the Cavs still make it in, what if both don’t make it? From a basketball perspective, Orlando and Denver have the ability to be every bit as compelling as LA and Cleveland. Putting Kobe and Lebron aside, Denver and Orlando both play much more interesting styles than LA and Cleveland. As far as LA is concerned, I think we all have seen plenty of the triangle offense, and with Cleveland the same can be said for the pick and roll.

Over the playoffs, the Orlando Magic's offense has grown on me. They really spread the court out and almost always make the extra pass to the open guy. Denver is interesting in their own right with the cast of characters they have. They may be running the same high screen and roll with Chauncey Billups, or isolation play for ‘Melo, but somehow it’s more interesting when the other guys out there sport faux-halks, lipstick tattoos, and little infants during post game press conferences.

As far as star power’s concerned, this is where the NBA will take a hit short term. The ratings will most likely slide a bit without their big guns. (and Nike surely won't be happy when they can't have 10 Kobe vs. Lebron Puppet adds.) But with Orlando and Denver, the league will have the ability to promote two of it's budding stars Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony. Howard is ready to go to the level of Lebron, Kobe and Wade, while Carmelo is ready to be in the conversation. While the NBA won't get the same hype and mileage out of Carmelo and Dwight this year as they would out of Kobe and Lebron, having them in the finals would definitely pay dividends in the future.

Whether David Stern wants to admit it or not, the NBA has become a star’s league. Over the years, the league and networks have been more focused on promoting individuals, rather than teams. Carmelo and Dwight are on the verge of bursting the superstar bubble, and if they’re both in the finals, then they’d get that much more exposure. If the finals play out with competitive contests, future Dwight/Carmelo match-ups in the future would have more hype and exposure. Having two more stars vs. furthering the Kobe/Lebron hype might actually be a positive for the NBA. And ... Kobe and Lebron can’t face off every game (Depsite ESPN’s best wishes.)

No comments:

Post a Comment