By Christopher De Lardge
Published: November 15th, 2017
Can Kyrie Irving and the Celtics revive the glory years of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett? Will Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and the new Oklahoma City Thunder look to dethrone the defending champion Golden State Warriors led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green?
Super teams in the NBA are creating storylines, but are they good for the league?
The most notable and memorable super team was LeBron James’ Miami Heat team. In the four years the Heat Big Three—Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh—played in Miami, they won on average 56 games per season. James won his third and fourth MVP titles along with back-to-back NBA Finals.
Now fast forward to the run of the Golden State Warriors in 2016; they added the second-best player in the game, Kevin Durant, to a team with the greatest shooting backcourt in NBA history. Curry, Thompson, Durant and the best player at the power forward position, Green, dominate the court and the viewers. NBA fans watched Warriors play in the 2017 Finals against the Cavs with numbers that surpassed the 2011 Finals. On average, according to the Nielsen Ratings, over 20 million people watched the series, which the Warriors dominated by defeating the Cavs in five games.
Super teams also draw interest in the regular season. The NBA regular season starts in October, when most fans are consumed with NFL regular season and MLB playoff matchups. Many fans wait until after the holiday season to begin paying attention to the league. With superstars playing with each other on a nightly basis, however, regular season NBA action has finally become watchable.
Super teams also create storylines that draw fan interest. The Warriors have 45 nationally televised games, while the the Cavs have 40 and the Thunder have 39. Even the Philadelphia 76ers have a good amount of nationally syndicated games this season. With Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz, and Joel Embiid, who draws reminders of a young Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, the Sixers are one of the many teams with a gathering of young talent. If the “trust the process” mantra turns Philly into an Eastern Conference power, they may join the super team club.
Blake Griffin has the Los Angeles Clippers all to himself, and Doc Rivers is now just the head coach after being relieved as President of Basketball Operations in this offseason. Can the club win and get to the NBA Finals without Chris Paul, or will the team continue to underperform? With just one superstar, they are unlikely able to compete.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is an emerging prospect with a 6’11” frame and a skillset that includes ball-handling, jumping, and passing. If Antetokounmpo can develop a jump shot, he will make that leap to superstar status.
Although super teams do impede the clubs without stars from competing for a championship, they provide the league with great marketing tools that account for a portion of the clubs’ exposure by creating fan bases outside of the super teams’ normal markets.