By Leighton Ginn
Let’s be honest, the NBA is watered down.
There’s many reasons that have been listed. Tracy McGrady made the comments after Steph Curry was the first unanimous MVP, and said the unanimous vote is just proof the NBA is watered down.
Well, not really. If you look at the top five in voting, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are Hall of Fame talent. Kawhi Leonard has a tremendous career so far, but I’m not sure if it’s Hall of Fame caliber yet.
But Curry was clearly the top player in the league with one of the greatest seasons in history. If James had a better season, maybe he would have taken some votes away. The Thunder was third in the Western Conference, so it hurt their great seasons. But it was a perfect storm for Curry, who improved on last year’s MVP season tremendously.
That’s not why the league is watered down.
And it’s not what McGrady or Charles Barkley pointed to.
With the new draft rules, too many players are entering the NBA after only one year of college. They are less prepared to play in the NBA, but the rosters are forced to make room for them.
In the past, rookies came in NBA ready after three or four years of college. Because of the revolving door, the college game has been extremely watered down, and the rookies coming in are too green.
Rookies need more years to adapt to the NBA. But these rookies and green players are taking up more and more roster spots. The results are some really dismal teams. And many of the playoff teams have little depth.
People will point to Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and McGrady who came into the league out of high school and had become successful. But as they’ve proven, they are special players. They are the exception, not the rule.
Basketball as a whole is not as good as it was in the past.
But I don’t agree with McGrady and Barkley’s assessment of what makes the league watered down. And here’s where I will defend the Warriors.
McGrady and Barkley point to the fact their era was more physical because of how the rules were. With the hand checking rules, among other things, the NBA had a physicality that doesn’t exist today. And that physical game would prevent the Warriors from playing their wide-open game.
It’s true the league is less physical.
But they forget, these were the same rules in the 80s, and the dominant team of that era was the Los Angeles Lakers, who played just as wide open game built on the fast break. The Denver Nuggets were also another prolific offensive team that seemed to manage just as well.
Why couldn’t the Warriors, which might be the best shooting team in the history with Curry and Klay Thompson? The Warriors do have the kind of ball movement the Lakers had as well. The only thing hurting them is they don’t have a dominant presence in the middle.
But when I watch the Warriors, they do remind me of the Lakers because of the way they move the ball and how everyone is a good passer.
It is interesting how people find it hard to accept Curry is the first unanimous MVP. Part of that is probably because Michael Jordan never was a unanimous MVP, which is a joke.
When Curry came into the league, many thought he would be a fringe player or an outside shooting specialist, but little more. It was small for a shooting guard, and in college didn’t play the point.
I think a lot of people have a hard time shaking their early assessment of Curry. Or maybe they are reluctant to give him the credit he deserves for coming as far as he has, and evolved into one of the best ball-handlers in the league.
He is a remarkable player, no matter what the era.