x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

This season in NBA is a league of ordinary gentlemen

Who is the best player on the Memphis Grizzlies, the Atlanta Hawks, the Indiana Pacers or the Denver Nuggets? And those are the teams just below the top tier.

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving is making his name as the next big thing this season.
Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving is making his name as the next big thing this season.

No one argues. Athletes are bigger, stronger and faster than before. Better diets, better training, better focus.

And the NBA? It is a league that attracts the best basketball players on the planet.

This ought to be a Golden Age of NBA talent.

Why, then, does the league seem so ordinary this season? Why do so many teams appear unremarkable and uninspiring? Stars seem in short supply. It is a 30-team league but it feels like only a half-dozen teams have elite-level players.

The Miami Heat have stars. The Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs have stars. The rest? Not really.

The league's four best teams look to be the Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Spurs. This "great player" stuff explains much of it.

Who is the best player on the Memphis Grizzlies, the Atlanta Hawks, the Indiana Pacers or the Denver Nuggets? And those are the teams just below the top tier.

Several of the league's great players from the past decade have retired: Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady. Others, like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Vince Carter are past their primes. Some, like Derrick Rose and Amare Stoudemire, are hurt.

Few have emerged to take their place. Recent drafts have proven undistinguished. Maybe Kyrie Irving really is the next big thing. Maybe Stephen Curry and LaMarcus Aldridge and Jrue Holiday are ready to take it to another level.

At the moment, it feels like a league of unspectacular parity.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE