Emergence of New Greatness

The stage of the NBA is never short in talent, and always welcoming to ambitious youngins willing to challenge greatness


Boning Zhang


or basketball fans across the globe, the annual NBA Finals traditionally award fans with a combination of high-quality basketball, drama, and close games that tightly grab the eyes of millions.

As far as the stats can tell, however, the part of grabbing eyeballs isn’t exactly true. NBA Finals reached its lowest viewership since 2014, a mere14.8 million. Amid a tech-dominating era where viewing the game only takes couple of clicks, there is no other reason for this decline but fans’ dissatisfactions toward the repetitiveness of match-up in NBA Finals.

However, everything will change this year. For the first time in eight years, the renowned LeBron James does not have the chance to showcase his skills in the playoffs, let alone Finals.

The seemingly unbeatable Golden State Warriors, though having claimed the O’Brien trophy three times in the past four years, proved themselves to be not invincible with their “poor” regular season record, 57-25, worst in past four years.

Furthermore, there are plenty of teams and players with staunch determination that will not hesitate to take their places, two of which are Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks.

It seems obvious that all the essential elements are in place, ready for stirring a dramatic change in the NBA landscape.

Denver Nuggets

Compared with the star-stacked warriors or any other top-seeded teams, Denver has a much less stellar roster.

Nikola Jokic, the sole all-star on the team, earned his foothold in the league with unorthodox playing style, one that combines the skill of a center and a point guard, which can be apparently shown through his stat: 10.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game in the 18-19 season.

Nikola’s role as a facilitator in the game, however, is much more than what the stats scream.

In their first playoff game this season against the Spurs, Nuggets’ plays were frequently initiated with Nikola setting high-quality screens for either one of the two shooters, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, providing them with an open area to either shoot, drive, or pass.

Milwaukee Bucks

In 2013, a reporter asked Giannis Antetokounmpo what kind of player he would be five years from now?

Giannis  answered firmly, “I will be much stronger. I will be much better, than you ever think.”

Five years later, through countless hours of grueling work unseen to the outside, Giannis ’s status as a top-five player in the NBA proved himself different from other ambitious teenagers who could not keep their momentum high for more than a week.

Giannis  is now the absolute leader on this top-seeded Bucks team and has contributed for the most part to their first playoffs series win since 2001. Such a dramatic transformation could not have occurred without Giannis ’s steady improvement over the span of five years.

In his fifth season, 17-18 season, he was leading his team in all five stats, especially his Points Per Games (PPG) which increased four times from his rookie year.

But his success comes from sheer athleticism, and a large part of his potential lays unexplored.

“The numbers he’s getting right now are almost on accident. Once he learns how to play play — unstoppable. It’s almost like he’s from another planet,” said Michael Reed, former Bucks star, at the beginning of the 17-18 season.

It seems as if Giannis  took those words to his heart. In the current season, he took the responsibility of both a scorer and a facilitator, making smarter passes and fewer turnovers while maintaining his lack of hesitation when attacking the basket.