The unpredictability and excitement that the NBA Playoffs can bring at the conclusion of a season are what basketball fans love – and it is amazing.
Yes, Stephen Curry and LeBron James are missed, but a change in the league can be a great thing. Currently, we are witnessing another captivating NBA Finals and this could have not gone better for smaller markets in Phoenix and Milwaukee.
Being on the big stage raises the marketability and visibility of these often overlooked franchises that don’t have the reachability or fan following of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.
This year’s playoffs brought fans the emergence of future superstars such as Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton.
In addition, heroic displays by Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo have thrust these smaller market clubs into the big sports stage. It has been compelling to see and fans are tuning in.
Even though we all deep down assumed the Brooklyn Nets or both Los Angeles ball clubs would complete further into the playoffs, the two teams that remain have filled the void quite well.
The NBA playoffs were beginning to become redundant with the same few teams making it to the end each season. The infamous superteams of the past from larger markets — such as the LeBron James and D Wade Miami Heat squad who went to four straight NBA Finals, winning two and 2015-2018 Golden State Warriors — gave us incredible content.
However, seeing the same teams in the finals every year was hurting basketball as a whole. We were ignoring some great players and very good teams, who were formed the “right way.” Furthermore, those super teams made retaining talent in smaller markets increasingly difficult.
But this year is showing us that the homegrown model of obtaining players through the draft and building around those superstars can still pay dividends. NBA Finals stars Devin Booker DeAndre Ayton, Greek Freak and Kris Middleton were all drafted by their respective teams and chose to stay and sign long-term supermax contracts.
Their teams – in return – then placed complementary pieces around them to make a run in the playoffs within their budgets; with players such as Jrue Holiday, P.J Tucker, Bobby Portis with Milwaukee and Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, and Cameron Payne with the Phoenix Suns. Hence, why both teams are in the position to win a championship.
The 2021 NBA Finals are ideal for all small-market teams around the league. In the past, this has not been the case, but the Suns and Bucks are proving that small-market teams can still complete for titles.
This year’s ‘small market finals’ might be the resurgence these markets need for more long-term success in the future.