What a difference a season makes. With the super team era having its run stunted with teams not making the play-in tournament, let alone the second round of the playoffs, it’s time to say farewell to the NBA super team.
The Brooklyn Nets, the heavily favored NBA team, were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round.
A few weeks earlier, the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns and were eliminated from contending for a spot in the play-in tournament. The Lakers’ 121-110 loss on April 5, paired with a San Antonio Spurs win over the Denver Nuggets, meant the Lakers were out of the playoffs.
Led by the trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, the Lakers finished 33-49 with their veteran roster.
Interestingly, it is the first time in 17 years that neither LeBron James or Kevin Durant is in the second round of the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Clippers made it to the play-in tournament but lost after Paul George tested positive for COVID-19.
Three super teams. There are three postseason funerals and a league that is now underwhelmed by its most marketable stars.
This is the first playoffs in 17 years without KD or LeBron in the second round. pic.twitter.com/K7Dw9jMovz
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 26, 2022
Birth Of The Super Team
It is now the fourth time LeBron James has missed the playoffs in his 19-year career; however, it is his second time with the Lakers. The other two times were his first two seasons in Cleveland, in 2003 and 2004.
After planning with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to team up once they hit free agency, it took James two seasons to win a championship in Miami. He did it back-to-back before returning to Cleveland, where he won it all in 2016.
For Durant, his playoff runs had stretched back to 2010 when he and Russell Westbrook ran the Oklahoma City Thunder into the postseason. After nine seasons with that franchise Durant would head to the Bay Area to join up with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to finally win his first championship in 2017 in his first season with the Dubs.
I cannot believe Kevin Durant's Brooklyn Nets just got swept.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 26, 2022
According to Ernie Johnson on “Inside the NBA” on TNT, in the preseason survey of the NBA general managers, the top two picks to win the championship were the Brooklyn Nets (chosen by 71 percent) and the Los Angeles Lakers (17 percent).
It was primarily based on the depth chart of the two franchises. However, the devil is in the details despite all hype trains about the perceived championship caliber of a team. There was Kyrie Irving’s lack of play after refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine during NYC’s early stringent indoor vaccine mandate.
Then James Harden left for the Sixers, bringing over Ben Simmons and Seth Curry, with Simmons refusing to be active based on a back issue. Many hoped that Simmons would suit up for the playoffs, but that would not become a reality.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant won the same number of playoff games this year.
— nick wright (@getnickwright) April 26, 2022
Eat The Rich
LeBron James is credited for aligning Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony for what initially looked like an indefatigable mini Dream Team. However, the team never fully gelled, and instead the veteran squad seemed too independently minded to evolve into a championship team.
Now the game is about the younger guys who are just playing straight-up basketball.
With superstars come superegos, demands, eccentricities, and more. The remaining teams are just full of hunger, and like the anarchist axiom “eat the rich,” the super team is officially dead.