There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the NBA being at an all-time high. I’m not sure about all that, what with at least four teams trying to lose and another handful so bad I can’t tell. Not to mention an Eastern Conference so uninspiring we have respected coaches talking about where Kentucky would place if they were in it.
What I am digging, though, is the offense on display in the League these days, especially following March Madness, when games end in the 50s like they were being played in the ’50s. Some of these NBA offenses, though? These cats can fill it up.
Look at our three main cover subjects this month. You’ve got James Harden, notching 27 points a game on seemingly nothing more than drives, threes and free throws like some sort of Daryl Morey Frankenstein, optimally built to score in 2015. You’ve got the Splash Hermanos, living up to my man Mark Jackson’s lofty predictions with two of the sweetest jumpers the game has ever seen. And lastly, the long-boring Hawks, rejuvenated by coach Mike Budenholzer and skillfully spreading around their 103 ppg to a broad cast of “stars” in the best team-first system we’ve seen this side of the Alamo. And I didn’t even get to this month’s lead feature subject, Russell Westbrook, kept off the cover only by our fear that the snake-bit Thunder are too injured to do much in the Playoffs. But he’s scoring at a greater—and more explosive—pace than any of these other guys.
The end result is a modern NBA product that puts up some duds once in a while, and occasionally seems to lack the intense passion of a generation ago, but can be hella fun to watch. And now that we’re entering the Playoffs, maybe it will all coalesce. Think about it: The shitty teams will be gone for the summer, and even the offense-first teams will have to put forth maximum effort on the defensive end as well. Who knows? Maybe this occasionally grumpy old man will be singing a whole new song next month.