Honestly, who really cares about divisions in the NBA anymore? It’s really about where you’re sitting in your conference, and with that, a division that’s filled with what is known as “fly over” cities/markets like; Denver, Oklahoma City, Portland, and Salt Lake it comes to somewhat of a surprise they are respectively sitting at 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th in the Western Conference.
People are evidently bored with the what the NBA has become, which is an agglomeration of superstars joining each others’ teams and assembling super-teams in which, becoming the new normal for the league. Things like coaching, chemistry, and fundamental ball have been seemingly cast aside for athletic prowess and sheer talent. With The Golden State Warriors being the poster child of it, or should I say, the golden standard (pun so intended), many have tried to replicate that exact formula as Miami, and Boston once had mastered years prior. Take teams like Houston with; Chris Paul, Harden, and Melo, or Lebrons’ Cavs when he assembled; Wade, Isaiah Thomas, and Love, and even last years OKC team; with Melo, Paul George, and Westbrook trying and failing to some degree. It may be easier said than done to replicate what the Warriors have, but having the same exact finals match-up 4 years in a row has show a lack of diversity for the NBA and has the fans wanting something more. Obviously with Lebron going to LA things will be different this year and I can’t help thinking that this gives a chance for teams to fly under the radar this year.
The smaller, yet just as ferociously loyal fan bases are making themselves known this year, team like Milwaukee and the Pacers in the East and; of course, the Northwest division in the West. It’s not the much anticipated same old same old of Golden State, Lakers, San Antonio, or even Houston anymore, it’s small cities that many superstars would gladly keep flying over that are surging right now. The second place Denver Nuggets are a perfect example with only one real star in Jokic, and they have been a huge shock for the basketball world, and are a team that are resurrecting the old school principles in team chemistry and belief in the coaching with Micheal Malone. Things like that are refreshing to see in a league that has been watered down with stacking talent together, and disregarding all other finite details that makes a team click. Portland, Utah, and Oklahoma all have their respected stars that the team has built around and have been doing so for sometime, no overnight acquisitions for super star talent to “buy” a ticket into the playoffs.
Maybe, just maybe, the Northwest division can be the catalyst for a foundational shift in the NBA, when hard working, complete, fundamental teams are the ones winning championships. Only time will tell, but for the time being, you can find me cheering for the teams of the Northwest division where the “fly-over” cities have something to prove.