By H. Esteves
The 2021-22 season was undoubtedly one of the most equally matched seasons of all time. Never has there been a season with more parity in the NBA, it felt as though every team had a shot of making a deep run in the playoffs. Plus, many of the expected contenders, like the Suns, Bucks and Nets, fell short to teams that were overlooked as not being contenders. Going on to next season though, the question is raised, will this parity persevere?
The NBA, for a relatively long time, consisted of dynasties, and constant contenders. Like the ages of Golden State vs Cleveland in the finals, the Spurs dynasty, and the Heat super team. In short, there were always clear-cut favourites for the championship. This trend has changed in recent years however, rising to a peak in this season, where it was hard to point to a team and say that they had no chance in the season. Oddly enough, the way events are shaping out, next season is likely to be even more feverishly competitive and we're going to examine how exactly this will continue in the NBA.
For starters, we can see immediately that the lower teams are going to rise. Many of them have already made draft picks, and also have incredible young talent which is expected to improve their team. A stale free agency this year suggests too those big signings are unlikely at best, and so, a player of great calibre switching teams is not highly probable. Additionally, some teams had poor seasons due to injury, so they will likely bounce back too. Therefore, with the good teams staying constant, this season looks to be competitive.
The only seemingly hopeless teams for next season are, and this hurts to say as a Thunder fan, probably OKC, Orlando and Detroit. On the flip side though, some of these teams are absolutely stacked with long-term assets, like draft picks or quality young players and so they are likely to bloom to become playoff teams in two or three seasons.