The beginning of the National Basketball Association’s 2017-2018 season has been tough. From the New York Knicks performing better than expected to the Cleveland Cavaliers losing easy wins and its players getting injured on the opening night, much of what has occurred this season was not what fans had anticipated. I have found myself asking why the NBA has changed so much since last season and why the superteams aren’t crushing the bottom 10 teams.
After watching the Atlanta Hawks beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland, I came to the conclusion that LeBron James’ team simply does not care about the game enough to actually win, as long as they make the playoffs. If you take a look at the games they’ve won, all of them have been against Finals contender teams like the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Washington Wizards. James’ team is built upon the perception that they are going to the playoffs. However, with a 5-7 record, it looks like they aren’t going anywhere.
I’ve had numerous discussions with people about the classic debate-spurring question: “Who is the greatest player of all time?” Many people say that LeBron is the best that has ever played the game, with the basis of their argument being that LeBron wins when he wants to; therefore, he can take any team to the playoffs or even the Finals.
Perhaps that is true, and he can really bring any team to the playoffs, but I truly believe this argument to be false. The Cleveland Cavaliers look like a group of friends who go to Palladium to play some pickup on Friday afternoon — three cherry pickers, a Kyrie wannabe and that one kid who can run a marathon under two hours.
However, James isn’t the only player to blame on the team. The Cavaliers’ roster has gained incredible accolades. For example, James and Derrick Rose have both won the MVP trophy; James and Dwayne Wade have three rings each; Kevin Love, LeBron and Wade all have Olympic gold medals; and a majority of the players on the starting five are all-star players. Despite all of these accomplishments, the team is consistently weak on defense. The Cavaliers have allowed an average of 115.2 points scored against them each game. In their game against the Hawks, the Cavaliers allowed the Hawks to score 117 points. This game broke the Hawks’ eight-loss streak and was an extremely surprising loss for the Cavaliers.
As an avid fan of the NBA, I am extremely disappointed by how this NBA’s season is unfolding. Now, the Golden State Warriors are clearly the undisputed best team of the league. Some teams come close to matching their talents such as Oklahoma, Boston and Houston, but they just don’t have the depth that the Warriors have. The other superteam, the Cavaliers, doesn’t really care about doing its job, reducing the competition that the Warriors will have to face. Then, the bottom 10 teams of the NBA are aware that they don’t stand a chance, now only fighting in order to get more draft picks.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 27 print edition. Email Tom Dreyer at [email protected]