It’s hard to escape the feeling that the end result of this NBA season was inevitable, with more of the same on the way.
Ever since Kevin Durant announced his decision to join the Golden State Warriors back on July 4 of last year, the NBA Finals felt pre-determined.
As it turned out, the regular season and playoffs went just as everyone imagined they would, with Golden State conquering everyone in sight. Even one of the greatest basketball players of all-time could only take a single game off them when it mattered.
This is what the NBA is dealing with right now. On one hand, we’re witnessing what’s probably the best team ever. That claim would be more clear-cut if they had finished off the ‘fo-fo-fo-fo’ and gone a perfect 16-0 en route to the title. But even so, the collection of talent and skill and shooting and unselfishness and dominance that defines this Warriors team is something we’ve never seen before.
Warriors had the 2nd-largest average scoring margin for any team that played at least 5 games that postseason pic.twitter.com/N4moc67Img— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2017
It’s all well and good to be witnessing greatness, but it comes at the cost of parity and, more concerningly, suspense. The NBA, after all, is an entertainment industry and last I checked, like any movie or book, it’s harder to be entertained when you know the ending.
The real question is, are we sure we know the ending?
In this moment, Golden State look like basketball’s version of the Roman Empire, but in sports, things can change quickly and unexpectedly.
The most obvious deterrent to a Warriors dynasty isn’t LeBron James bolting Cleveland again and creating his own superteam, but rather the salary cap.
The Warriors have four players who can command max salary contracts and even if each of them agrees to take a discount, it’s unlikely it’s to the extent that the franchise doesn’t find itself paying heavy luxury tax.
Durant and Curry are both free agents this summer, while the market-friendly contracts of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green come off the books in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Along the way, it will be difficult to retain key role players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
Golden State may well win two more championships before they’re forced to split their core due to financial reasons, but the window for them being as good as they were this past season could be no more than another two years.
Throw in the fact that LeBron still lives and breathes, San Antonio never die, Boston’s ceiling, injuries, plus everything else that makes sports so unpredictable, and nothing is guaranteed.
The intrigue is still there, it’s just shifted. For now, the mystery isn’t over which team will win it all – it’s over how and when this run is going to end.