I feel bad for any middle of the run playoff teams for the next couple years in the NBA. Really there are only two, three maybe four real competitors to take home the NBA Finals Trophy. I’m talking about the Cavaliers and Warriors obviously and possibly the Rockets and Celtics and even less likely, the Thunder.
The other four teams are geared up to win for the next few seasons. But the Rockets and Celtics still have catching up to do if they want to replace the Cavaliers or Warriors in the Finals.
For every other team they are just playing well during the wrong era of basketball. I truly believe that if you aren’t one of those four teams above then you should be rebuilding or on the upside of a good rebuild so that you can emerge as an elite team right when the Cavaliers and Warriors start to decline.
I am going to pick on the Raptors to show you my point. The Raptors have been one of the best teams in the NBA the last several years and are currently the number one seed in the East.
If we look at their playoff success since Lebron went back to Cleveland, which is when they started to become a great team, they haven’t fared too well. In 2015 they got swept by the Wizards in the first round. In 2016 they made it all the way to the Conference Finals but lost to none other than Lebron and the Cavs. Last year they faced the same fate against Cleveland and got swept in the Semifinals.
When we look at the Raptor’s roster, they have a solid squad. They have two all stars in their back court with Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry. These leaders have a good crew to go along with them headlined by Valunciunas, Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell and C.J. Miles.
This team might look oh so good, but when it comes down to the postseason they have no chance of beating Lebron and the Cavaliers no matter how much you want to believe it. With Derozan 28 years old and Kyle Lowry at 31 years old, they still have more all star seasons in them.
Unfortunately it is just a losing battle. They will keep riding Derozan and Lowry until they don’t have their star potential anymore. During these players’ prime though, they will never make it to the Finals.
I’m not singling out the Raptors. Every good team like them are all fighting for nothing. Even if they do get past the Cavs, they still don’t stand a chance against the Warriors.
It would be hard to trade away players like Derozan and Lowry in their primes. They have immense talent and every team hopes they can miraculously come through and win the Finals with this lineup. Teams need to be realistic.
Every team should be rebuilding and waiting for the decline of the Cavaliers and Warriors. So that in four years or so they might have a team that will be good enough to make a push in the playoffs without barriers like Stephen Curry and Lebron James.
If they continue on this path, their star players will decline during the same period the Cavs and Warriors will and won’t have a good team when there is an easier path to the Finals.
I know teams won’t do this but it is worth considering. For now they can ride their Lillard’s and Derozan’s and lose to the better teams in the playoffs.