Written By: Darrien Starling

Universally known as the best player in the NBA for more than a decade, Lebron James has almost handpicked his teams for the past 7–8 years. This has played a huge role in his illustrious run of 7 consecutive NBA Finals appearances, 3 of which he and his team were victorious. One can make the argument that he has tarnished his legacy by building a “super team,” and those claims are valid sentiments to consider.

This has had a huge impact on the Eastern Conference as a whole, furthermore, it has influenced other superstar caliber players to make similar moves. Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors has also made him an enemy to the general fan-base of the NBA. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith expressed a high level of discontent on his television show ‘ESPN First Take’ calling his move “the weakest move in NBA history!” The Warriors have been in the NBA finals for the past 3 seasons, in which they have won 2 titles,1 since the acquisition of Durant.

As the All-Star break approaches, the picture isn’t as clear in regards to who will make it to the finals like seasons before. The Cleveland Cavaliers were forced to basically swap Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, and their worst nightmare is becoming a reality. The Boston Celtics are atop the Eastern Conference, while the Cavs are in the 3rd spot, and a half a game from fourth in the conference. They have lost 14 of their last 21 games, with James butting heads with upper management, and Thomas playing awful while appointing himself as the team spokesperson after loses.

With Kevin Love out with an injured hand, the Cavs look very vulnerable and beatable. Who knows if the Cavs will somehow work their chemistry issues out in time to make another championship run, all signs are pointing in the opposite direction. Only time will tell.

The Warriors have a different situation on their hands, they are firing on all cylinders for the most part, however, they are struggling against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. The Rockets, who added superstar point guard Chris Paul in the off-season, has split with the Warriors this year and is one game behind them in the standings. The Warriors will still be the favorite in this series but if the Rockets can steal home court, things could get interesting.

As for the Thunder, who added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony this off-season, they have owned the Warriors in their 2 meetings, winning by 17 and 20 points. There is a chance that the Warriors will have to play both teams in route to another finals appearance and it’ll be interesting to see if the Warriors can increase their level of play enough to defeat these two squads.

For the first time in a while, there are actually other teams to realistically consider for a finals run. This could be jumping the gun, but there’s excitement brewing because we can now bring other teams in title discussion.

I’m excited to see what’s next!