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Posted by23 hours ago

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NBA nostalgia culture is out of control, just saw an earnest reference to "Prime Rudy Gay"

I don’t know about you guys, but I feel personally attacked. My Mario Chalmers mixtape is 🔥

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Posted by13 hours ago

There is a common belief among NBA fans that the NBA is more stacked with talent than ever before, and that there are countless teams which could win the title next season. While it seems that every team nowadays has a star with league-dominating potential, there is a 42 year, nearly unbroken streak which tells us that, even now, only 7 teams have a shot at a Finals win next year.

Let's look at every championship winner since 1980, and measure them off of one criteria:

Did they have a player with a top 5 VORP sometime in the previous 4 seasons?

SeasonPlayerT5 VORP SeasonVORP/RankPlayoffs/Play-in Previous Year?
21-22Stephen Curry20-215.8, 2ndYes
20-21Giannis Antetokounmpo19-206.6, 2ndYes
19-20LeBron James17-188.2, 1stNo*
18-19Kawhi Leonard16-177.1, 3rdYes
17-18Stephen Curry15-169.5, 1stYes
16-17Stephen Curry15-169.5, 1stYes
15-16LeBron James13-147.9, 2ndYes
14-15Stephen Curry13-146.7, 4thYes
13-14Tim Duncan09-105.0, 5thYes
12-13LeBron James11-127.6, 1stYes
11-12LeBron James10-117.8, 1stYes
10-11Dirk Nowitzki06-077.4, 2ndYes
09-10Kobe Bryant08-095.9, 5thYes
08-09Kobe Bryant07-086.3, 3rdYes
07-08Kevin Garnett06-075.5, 5thNo*
06-07Tim Duncan03-046.7, 3rdYes
05-06Shaquille O'Neal**01-026.7, 5thYes
04-05Tim Duncan03-046.7, 3rdYes
03-04Chauncey BillupsN/AN/AYes
02-03Tim Duncan01-028.0, 1stYes
01-02Shaquille O'Neal00-017.1, 2ndYes
00-01Shaquille O'Neal99-009.0, 1stYes
99-00Shaquille O'Neal98-993.9, 4thYes
98-99David Robinson97-986.3, 3rdYes
97-98Michael Jordan96-978.6, 1stYes
96-97Michael Jordan95-969.8, 1stYes
95-96Michael Jordan92-9310.2, 1stYes
94-95Hakeem Olajuwon93-947.3, 3rdYes
93-94Hakeem Olajuwon92-937.8, 2ndYes
92-93Michael Jordan91-929.2, 1stYes
91-92Michael Jordan90-9110.8, 1stYes
90-91Michael Jordan89-9010.6, 1stYes
89-90Bill LaimbeerN/AN/AYes
88-89Isiah Thomas84-856.5, 3rdYes
87-88Magic Johnson86-878.0, 3rdYes
86-87Magic Johnson85-865.7, 2ndYes
85-86Larry Bird84-858.7, 1stYes
84-85Magic Johnson83-845.6, 2ndYes
83-84Larry Bird82-837.2, 1stYes
82-83Julius Erving81-826.8, 2ndYes
81-82Kareem Abdul-Jabbar80-816.1, 2ndYes
80-81Larry Bird79-804.8, 4thYes


As you can see, 40 of the 42 NBA seasons since 1980 have concluded with a win by a team who had one of these top 5 VORP players. The two exceptions were both iterations of the Detroit Pistons: the 2004 Pistons (who seem to be outliers in everything) and the 1990 Pistons. Therefore, in order to be a championship level squad, you must either:

  • Have a player who has been top 5 in VORP sometime in the past 4 seasons OR

  • Be the Detroit Pistons


With this in mind let's look at the players over the past 4 years who have earned that distinction:

  • Nikola Jokic

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo

  • Joel Embiid

  • Luka Doncic

  • LeBron James

  • Stephen Curry

  • Damian Lillard

  • James Harden

  • Paul George

After further research, I also found that 40 of the 42 players listed in the chart above also made the playoffs or play-in the previous year. The only two exceptions were 2020 LeBron James and 2008 Kevin Garnett, both of whom had personnel changes between seasons that were much more significant than any of the above players. With that in mind let's narrow down the list further:

  • Nikola Jokic

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo

  • Joel Embiid

  • Luka Doncic

  • Stephen Curry

  • James Harden

  • Paul George


Therefore, I am extremely confident in my prediction that one of the following seven teams will win the finals next year:

  • Denver Nuggets

  • Milwaukee Bucks

  • Philadelphia 76ers

  • Dallas Mavericks

  • Golden State Warriors

  • Los Angeles Clippers

  • Detroit Pistons


Let's visit each of them in turn:

Denver Nuggets: Led by Nikola Jokic, these Nuggets are poised to be extremely dangerous. Despite the rising competition in the west, the return of MPJ and Jamal Murray should help them become a terrifying threat to make a run at the finals

Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis is, quite simply, the best player in the NBA. After putting up a respectable title defense without his second option in Khris Middleton, and with the knowledge that he has come back better every offseason, this team has a sky-high ceiling.

Philadelphia 76ers: All signs point to James Harden having a healthy return to next season, an unsettling prospect for the rest of the league. A fully recovered Harden having a bounce-back year, is the perfect fit next to perennial MVP threat Embiid. With their rising star in Maxey and a revamped supporting cast, these sixers could easily break their second round exit streak and who knows how far they could go.

Dallas Mavericks: The loss of Jalen Brunson, on first glance, seems to be a significant loss for my Mavericks, as he was the clear second best option on a Mavs team with very little depth last year. However, the additions of Christian Wood and Javale McGee have filled the two biggest positions of need for Dallas, and as a general rule: never count out a team with Luka Doncic.

Golden State Warriors: I'm not even gonna bother, y'all already know

Los Angeles Clippers: As a Mavs fan, I have witnessed the terror that is in-form Kawhi. Combining that force with a supporting cast that has only improved since he left, and one of the best number twos in the league in Paul George, they are my personal pick to take it all.

Detroit Pistons:


Y'all will notice that many teams that are expected to be serious title threats have been left out of this discussion like the Celtics, Suns, Grizzlies, and Nets. If the Lakers manage to get Kyrie, the Lakers could make the jump from non-playoff to championship team, like they did in 2020. However, for now, these are my 7 teams, and barring a major change in the NBA landscape, I am supremely confident that the next championship victor is among these 7.

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Posted by22 hours ago
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Posted by23 hours ago
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Posted by15 hours ago
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