Warriors, Lakers, Celtics among five NBA teams most can be thankful for

It’s Thanksgiving time and there are many teams in the NBA to be very thankful for (the Nets aren’t one of them, which is saying a lot for a Kevin Durant team). But we’re going to split some hairs here. Any team that has a Superstar is grateful for that Superstar, but I’ve tried to narrow it down to the five teams that have the most to thank them for and what exactly they’re grateful for. Here it comes.

When five teams passed Curry in the 2009 draft, including twice the Timberwolves, the Warriors had no idea what they were getting. Curry transformed the Golden State franchise in ways that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago when Curry first became an All-Star. Four championships. Six finals. An NBA-record 73-win season. Literally billions in franchise value. None of this happens without Curry, whose combination of skill and humility might appear as the face of a franchise once in a generation, if ever.

I would argue that for various reasons there isn’t a single other player in the world who guided last year’s Warriors to a title, and this season Curry is still the reason why an aging and flawed Warriors team is still alive a legitimate candidate is considered. If you have curry, you stand a chance, and the warriors are terribly grateful to have it.

If the Lakers were, say, still in Minneapolis or Memphis or Salt Lake City or pretty much anywhere other than LA, they’d be a laughingstock with the way they’re running things right now. You could argue that they are anyway. But because they occupy prime NBA real estate, their margin of error is so great that they can basically mess things up and still have a fairly direct path out of the darkness and into the light of the title fight.

You could say the Lakers are very grateful to have LeBron James, but the only reason they have LeBron at all is because they’re in LA. The only reason they have Anthony Davis is because they have LeBron. And the only reason they have a title within the last decade is because they have these two guys.

Since that title (bubble title, I should say) this franchise has basically done nothing to appeal to gamers with options. Aside from their location and that iconic name on their chest, they’ve made one disastrous decision after another – empowering Rob Pelinka to walk around a So-Cal sandbox with seemingly no idea what he’s doing. Pelinka is like a trust child. He can always screw up in a way that would bury almost any other GM and is still within a few basic steps of competence to come out on top.

Every organization in the league with a Superstar player is thankful for that player. Damian Lillard has been a godsend in Portland for a decade. Nikola Jokic in Denver, Jayson Tatum in Boston, Ja Morant in Memphis, Joel Embiid in Philadelphia, Donovan Mitchell in Cleveland, Devin Booker in Phoenix, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City, Jimmy Butler in Miami, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with clippers ; Without Kevin Durant, Brooklyn would be a dumpster fire.

But none of these guys have brought a championship to their current franchise. Aside from Tatum, none of them made a final appearance. Antetokounmpo, on the other hand, has elevated Milwaukee to the top of the basketball world. He could have left in the summer of 2021 right after winning the championship for the Bucks like Leonard did with the Raptors, but Giannis signed a five-year extension midseason.

Giannis could at least have listened to what other teams had to say over the summer. Done with the dance. recruited. But his ego didn’t need that kind of celebration. He didn’t want to become a distraction for a Bucks team trying to win a title, which they did relatively quietly just over six months after his renewal. Other than Stephen Curry, there’s no player in the league who means more to their franchise than Antetokounmpo does to the Bucks.

Ainge is doing his thing in Utah now, but the Celtics will be indebted to him for a long time; He’s the main reason they’re able to compete for championships over the next ten years. The trades Ainge executed with the Nets landing the Celtics Jaylen Brown and the Sixers landing them Jayson Tatum have provided Boston with arguably the best duo in the league, and they’re just beginning to reach their prime.

For years, Ainge was under pressure to specifically trade Brown. He never did. He allowed the duo to grow together, all the while drafting Robert Williams and Grant Williams to go with them. Ainge designed Marcus Smart. He brought in Al Horford. He hired Brad Stevens who was a very good trainer and is proving to be a very good GM. He hired Joe Mazzulla, who looks like he could be the coach for the next decade.

Everything that prepared the Celtics for this long struggle owes much to Ainge. He put everything together. He wasn’t always popular with Celtics fans who wanted more aggressive moves, but his stubbornness and refusal to back down on short-sighted trades is why Boston is in this position now. Ainge built this team for eternity. Boston should be very grateful.

It’s never surprising that a team could trade Trae Young AND a second lottery ticket and still somehow be on the right side of the deal, but that’s exactly what the Mavericks achieved when they traded the draft rights to Luka Doncic, who , save for one career-changing injury is already a ban on going down as one of the greatest players of all time.

I don’t know what number you want to put on it – top 20, top 10, whatever – but he goes down as an all-timer. This guy has real GOAT conversational potential, and he’s only 23 years old! I would argue that if there was an open draft for every player in the league now, Doncic would go first. I don’t think it would even be close.

Having such a great guy at this age is the stuff that makes you get on your knees and thank the basketball gods every night before bed. A player like Doncic is guaranteed to be as good as a competitor for the next 10-15 years if you do your part and surround him with the right pieces. Maybe Dallas should start thinking about it.



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