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Volume 26 No. 182
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NBA Seems To Have Level Playing Field For First Time In Years

For the "first time in more than a decade, the NBA has achieved true parity," as there are "no favorites to win" the title, according to Gary Washburn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Not since the mid-'00s has the NBA season "begun with no prohibitive favorite to win the championship." There are "legitimately eight or nine teams that honestly claim they have title hopes, and the NBA has never been more unpredictable in this generation." What has occurred over the past several years is "astute roster management by some smaller or medium market teams." While the Lakers and Clippers "used free agency to suddenly become relevant," the Nuggets and Jazz have been "slow cooking rosters for years to get to this position." It would be "no surprise if the Nuggets and Jazz unseated the Clippers and Lakers in the conference finals." The NBA is "proving that it's not ruled by large markets but well-managed clubs that make sound financial decisions and draft intelligently." This is the NBA that Commissioner Adam Silver "sought after small market owners were concerned they would be hijacked by players seeking to sign in large markets" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/22).

ALL THINGS EQUAL: In Houston, Jenny Dial Creech wrote it is "clear the league has something that it hasn't in a long time" -- parity. There are "still teams that stand above the rest," but there is a "lot less confidence in picking one than there used to be." For the "past several years, the No. 1 goal of every team has been to beat the Warriors," but that path to a championship is "no longer clear" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/21). In Minneapolis, Chris Hine writes there are "eight to 10 teams who have strong hopes" of making the Finals. Contrast that with "most of the last decade when it was whoever LeBron James played for and the Spurs or Warriors." The playoffs "might actually make for intriguing drama from the start" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/22). In DC, Ben Golliver writes this season "boasts more uncertainty at the top than at any point" since James joined the Heat in '10, "finally turning Silver's vision into reality" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/22).