NBA playoffs

The NBA playoffs are more unpredictable than ever

Circumstances have allowed for unlikely talents to emerge victorious and create a timeline that nobody could have seen coming.

This will be the first time since 1998 that the Heat, Lakers, Spurs and Warriors will not be present in the NBA playoffs. Early-round eliminations of once-frontrunners such as the Nets and Jazz has also shocked many. 

At the time of print, the Bucks, Clippers, Hawks and Suns are the four teams remaining. While both Clippers and Suns have yet to win a single championship, the Bucks and Hawks have gone cold since 1971 and 1958, respectively.

This year’s NBA playoffs are sponsored by the letter “I” — for “injuries.” Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving are just a few of the once-perennial stars who have fallen during this year’s postseason. These circumstances have allowed for unlikely talents to emerge victorious and create a timeline that nobody could have seen coming.

Trae Young, wild & free
Trae Young, unlikeable but increasingly hard to fault

I hate Trae Young as much as the next guy. His playing style is often cheap. His foul-drawing shenanigans style has been negatively compared to James Harden and Steve Nash before him. 

Whatever your opinion is on Young, it is becoming increasingly harder not to give him his flowers when due. At only 22 years old, “Ice Trae” has led his Atlanta Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals. This was accomplished without any All-Stars by his side. Luka Dončić comparisons begin to fall flat when these facts are taken into consideration.

Much like the Montreal Canadiens are in the hockey world, Atlanta were the NBA’s eastern underdogs. They are a team whose season was not always the most consistent but an abundance in chemistry and an unconventional COVID year had brought them closer than ever to going back for a championship.

The pissed away Pistons

Troy Weaver fumbled the Detroit Pistons

During his tenure with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Troy Weaver was an excellent assistant general manager. He drafted the likes of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, made three Conference Finals appearances and earned one Western Conference Championship. 

It is clear that lightning doesn’t strike twice for Weaver. Last summer, he was hired as the general manager for the Detroit Pistons. Since this time, he essentially gave away two terrific players in Blake Griffin (waived) and Derrick Rose (traded), both of whom made the Playoffs. Apart from these travesties, the team also drafted a forgettable Frenchman by the name of Killian Hayes, who averaged a dismal 6.8 points per game despite being the seventh draft pick. 

With 20 wins and 52 losses in the past season, the Pistons earned their worst franchise record since 1966.

Hopefully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Pistons earned a big break with the number one overall pick in the forthcoming 2021 draft. There is not a ton of chatter for this year’s draft class but in a best case scenario, the Motor City can foster a talent that they could bank on for the foreseeable future. ■

For the NBA playoffs schedule, please visit the league’s website. This column originally appeared in the July 2021 issue of Cult MTL. 

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