Congratulations to the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic and their SB Nation community Third Quarter Collapse. Aside from Games 1 and 5 of the 2009 NBA Finals, they put up quite a fight. And of course congratulations to the LA Lakers and Silver Screen and Roll for the 2009 crown.
A few final Finals thoughts after the jump.
Final Finals Thoughts
- The Magic do have a great chance to represent the East again in the coming years and even win it all. However, Dwight's going to have to put in a LOT of time into improving his incredibly raw low post game and the Magic are going to have to upgrade their wings. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis had a nice 2009 Playoffs overall, but I wonder if we've seen the best from both or least their plateau given their age (30 and 29 respectively). Hedo might be playing elsewhere next season as well. You know if Mickael Pietrus could take advantage of all that great athleticism and put it all together, he could be... wait, we said that for years here in the Bay Area.
- Part of me will always wonder if the Lakers only won this year because they didn't have to face either of the top 2 Eastern Conference seeds- the Boston Celtics or the Cleveland Cavaliers. Did Kobe finally win his ring minus Shaq because he didn't have to match up against Paul Pierce and see Kevin Garnett intimidate the Laker big men again? Would LeBron have taken out the Lakers if Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkolgu, and Rashard Lewis didn't spoil what Nike was drooling over for months?
- I did enjoy the Orlando Magic's thrashing of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, but was that just short-sighted? Would the 2009 NBA Finals have been much more entertaining and lasted longer than 5 games if the Cavs made it? Those Kobe-Lebron Nike commercials which flooded the TV breaks of the Finals sure would have made a lot more sense.
- Is this another Laker dynasty in the making? There's 2 factors: 1) Can the Lakers retain free agents Lamar Odom and/ or Trevor Ariza? Both would obviously be nice, but if they have to pick one I'd go for Odom. Sure Ariza probably has more years in the tank, but the Lakers are in win-now mode and Odom is far more talented. Kobe has about 2-4 years in his prime. Not taking full advantage of those years is just foolish. I think Mitch Kupchak learned from that foolishness 2 summers ago- and yes, until that Paul Gasol trade he had the Lakers stuck in mediocrity and Kobe had every right to be upset.
- 2) Can Andrew Bynum step up his production like we all thought he would back in 2007? I'm not a big fan of Andris Biedrins' very limited game, but I'd take Biedrins over Bynum right now. At least Biedrins actually plays more than half a season. I doubt Biedrins would manage less than 20 minutes a game in the Finals too. (Or maybe Dwight would foul him out? Trust me, we won't be finding out anytime soon.) The Lakers did not win the finals or even get this far because of Bynum. Kupchak has been fairly delusional about this guy's performance/ upside and handing him that nearly $14 million a year contract is very questionable. They could lose Odom because of the Bynum delusions. Let's see how happy Kobe is about that come December.
- What if Shaq and Kobe never split up? Both players have now won titles without each since their break-up in 2004. Both came very close to winning 2 other titles as well (last year for Kobe and 2005 for Shaq). I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that the Lakers would have had at least 7 rings this decade if they could get these two all-time greats on the same page. It's all over now- the 00's NBA decade and all that "Kobe can't win one without Shaq" talk.