By: Scott Brock-Wilson
Five years ago, in the 2010 playoffs, the landscape was completely different. If you are looking for similarities, you will not find many; Yes, some players may be on the same team (including Lebron in Cleveland), but the power dynamic in the NBA has shifted greatly. The last four teams remaining in the 2010 playoffs have all finished in the bottom five of the league since then, and none had a record above .500 last year.
Let’s start with top of each conference. In 2010, the Eastern Conference Finals was a battle between the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic.
The Boston Celtics found themselves in their second Eastern Conference Finals (and NBA Finals) in three years in 2010, but since then, they have hit rock bottom. They are the definition of a rebuild. Their worst year was 2014 when the Celtics landed the sixth overall pick in 2014, selecting Marcus Smart, after being the fourth-worst team (tied with Utah).
The current Celtics roster does not contain one player from that trip to the Finals in 2010, not even their coach. Boston’s roster in 2010 contained three all-stars for that season (Pierce, Garnett, and Rondo), a 2009 all-star (Ray Allen), and two past-their-prime all-stars (Rasheed Wallace and Michael Finley) that, at the very least, added experience and expertise. Boston’s current roster has zero current all-stars and one past all-star (David Lee), who has yet to play a game for them. Now, the Celtics are the only team in this article to make the playoffs this past year, but that is only due to the extremely weak Eastern Conference. Even though the Celtics success’ were actually not too long ago, it seems like an eternity when looking at the current roster.
In 2010, the Orlando Magic found themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year. Orlando’s roster was built around Dwight Howard; the star of the franchise. Therefore it does not come as too big of a surprise when the franchise struggled after his departure prior to the 2012 season. The following year the Magic finished with the worst record in the league at 20-62.
Orlando has found itself in the top five of the draft all three years since the departure of Howard. They, like the Celtics, do not have one player from their 2010 roster on the team currently. Not a single player on Orlando’s roster has all-star experience. The Magic have 13 players under the age of 26. They are a young team with no experience but aspiring hopes; That is a lot different from what people were saying about the Magic five years ago.
The Western Conference is no different. Who were the two teams in the Conference Finals? The Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns.
Lakers fans, remember the days when you always beat the Clippers and had no competition in LA? 2010 was certainly part of that time. The Lakers were in not only their third straight Western Conference Finals, but also their 3rd Straight NBA Finals. Of course the Lakers still have Kobe (or what’s left of Kobe), but otherwise you will not find many similarities between the 2010 team and their current roster.
Since 2010, LA has found themselves to be one of the worst six teams in the league two years in a row, which happens to be the last two years. Their current roster does have three people with all-star experience (Bryant, Boozer, and Hibbert); however it is safe to say that they are all past their primes. The Lakers future success no longer lies in the trusted hands of Kobe, but instead in the untested hands of D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, two players who have yet to play a full regular season game in a Laker Uniform. This is far from what Lakers fans expect; they can only wish for the success of the 2010 Lakers team.
The Phoenix Suns have taken an interesting path since 2010, much different than any of the previously mentioned teams. The Suns have failed to reach the playoffs and consequently been in the lottery every year since the 2010 playoffs. They have since lost their two star players, (Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash), but only made an appearance in the bottom five in the league once in the 2012-13 season. In the other four seasons, the Suns have been either the first or the second team out of the Western Conference Playoffs, including when they went 48-34 in the 2013-14 season.
The Suns’ current roster may be in the best shape of all of the teams, though they finished with the second-best record of the four teams at 39-43 (Celtics, 40-42). However, similar to the other teams, the Suns only have one player (Tyson Chandler) with all-star experience on their current team. But, the Suns do have a strong core for the future including Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Alex Len. They even have a decent chance to make the playoffs this upcoming year. With all of that being said, the Suns are far from their 2010 Western Conference Finals form.
Five years ago the Celtics, Magic, Lakers, and Suns were elite teams, yet now they all find themselves rebuilding. Many of them even believe they have already turned the corner of mediocrity. Five years in not too long in real life, but in NBA time, it can feel like a century.