by Jack Maidment
A not very wise, entirely fictional and utterly hilarious man once said that nothing ever changes by staying the same. Literally.
I like the philosophy, as a rule, because it invokes change, which for the most part, is a good thing.
But you know what they say about rules and needing an exception to be proven true.
Step forward the National Basketball Association, a league in which everything has changed this offseason – and yet nothing really has.
Allow me to explain.
There have been so many stories breaking since the Miami Heat won it all in June that you would be forgiven for thinking the NBA will look dramatically different in October come opening tip off.
With a draft class at least 10 deep (Davis, Barnes, Rivers, Sullinger, Kidd-Gilchrist, Perry Jones, Royce White, Beal, Robinson, Waiters and so on) in legitimate league talent and more free agents boarding flights than I can remember in years, things must be different.
But they aren’t. Nothing has changed at the top of the pyramid.
Going into this season:
#The Lakers are set for another title run after trading for Dwight Howard, the one player in the NBA that could solve all of their ‘we’re old, not very athletic, can’t defend the rim’ problems, and Steve Nash, the perfect Kobe-complement: a ballhandler who can run the offense, keep 24 fresh and get all the (ageing) players on the team easy shots.
#The Celtics are set for another title run after retooling. They still have their core (Garnett, Pierce, Rondo) and have swapped streaky (now) shooters, Ray Allen for Jason Terry, while adding enough talent to their bench to return to the Eastern Conference Finals.
#The Miami Heat are set for another title run after attracting another batch of veteran ring-seekers willing to take the minimum for the chance at grabbing a piece of career capping jewellery.
#The Oklahoma City Thunder are set for another title run after their four best players got better at the Olympics and Sam Presti gambled (and will win) in the draft.
#The San Antonio Spurs are set for another title run – like you thought they wouldn’t be.
Last year’s five best teams=This year’s five best teams.