The talk of the town and drama unfolded last July 4th, where Kevin Durant announced his decision to move on from the Oklahoma City Thunder where he spent nine seasons of his entire career. He would make a move to join the “enemies” as the Golden State Warriors were fresh off a Finals loss and conceding a 3-1 series lead. This struck the NBA drama line as it also fired up Russell Westbrook who did not have the kindest the well wishes for his former teammate. Westbrook instead chose to sign a three-year deal to remain in OKC. He fired up an entire city in distraught weeks later after the Durant announcement.
Now it wasn’t really impossible or crazy that some suggested that Westbrook could average a triple-double or take on the role as the Thunder’s leader. There was no doubt that in KD’s shadow was a motor that could push a team to win over 45 games and do a few extraordinary things, well like averaging a triple-double and breaking Oscar Robertson’s record for most in a season.
When Mike D’Antoni took over as the Houston Rockets Head Coach last summer he eventually announced that James Harden would be his point-guard. A move that raised the eyebrows since Harden has ever known the two-guard spot for his career. How does 29.1 points per game, a career high 11.2 assist per game while the Rockets are the third best team overall in the league record wise sound? A dramatic turnaround for the Rockets as they have 13 more wins than last season’s 41-41 record. Harden will enter the postseason as an MVP candidate next to his former teammate Westbrook.
How about the defending champs? The Cleveland Cavaliers found themselves in a bit of a dramatic stories this season. In January, Lebron James claimed the Cavs needed a playmaker. In comes Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut off the wavier wire. Bogut would eventually be wavier after injuring himself two-minutes into his first game as a Cavalier but the signings show the King that Cleveland is all in again this season. The Cavs find themselves in second place in the Eastern Conference. Majority of preseason analysis locked in Cleveland as the East’s best team all season long. The Boston Celtics now hold a one game lead over the Cavs and will look for bragging rights as the top seed. Let’s not ignore that King James is having a career year in other departments in the mix of a Russell Westbrook triple-double season. Lebron is averaging 26.4 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game and, 8.7 assists per game. All while managing to shoot 55-percent from the field. He will make another postseason run and attempt to reach his 7th straight Finals, this time as a defending champion once again.
Last year the record breaking all centered around the Golden State Warriors. Stephen Curry shattered the record of most three-point fields made in a season formerly held by Ray Allen. Curry went on to pouring in 402 three-point baskets. This season he currently sits at 319 and with one game left he’s safe from breaking his own record. Instead of talking about breaking the Bulls single season record of most wins again, the Warriors may have quietly won 66 games. While 19 of them were without Durant due to a knee injury, they still managed a 14 game win streak without their All-Star Forward. Luckily, for the Warriors their new recruit in Durant knows the feeling of losing after leading a series 3-1. If this is the year of revenge then faith may be with the Warriors.
While the season certainly had its upside there tends to be a downside. The project in Chicago did not work as planned for the Bulls to compete as a contender in the Eastern Conference. They currently find themselves in a must win tonight in their final game to earn a playoff berth. With Dwyane Wade having a player-option after this season and the Bulls heading in a different direction could he be one-and-done in his hometown?
The New York Knicks were supposed to be a super team according to point-guard Derrick Rose. That super team is officially out of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year as a franchise. The Knicks have had their share of drama this season as the Charles Oakley incident put a dent in their selling point to potential free agents this summer. Phil Jackson and James Dolan both are on ice as the future of Carmelo Anthony must be determined this off-season.
As we embark on the 2017 NBA Playoffs, this NBA season will be one that will have that little asterisk next to it. Likewise last year the Warriors broke a team record but today have a individual player record. Primarily, we can thank Russell Westbrook as he joins Oscar Robertson as the only player to achieve averaging a triple-double. The suspense continues as if this becomes a common theme what can we expect to be broken next season?
Baseline Times NBA Contributor