The 2014 NBA playoffs have been nothing but unpredictable this year, but when it all comes down to it, the four teams most people expected to be there at the end have survived.
The top two ranked teams in the East and West have earned their way to the conference finals. From here, there may be upsets, although it seems to be that the first-seeded San Antonio Spurs and the two-time defending champion Miami Heat will be returning the NBA Finals.
Assuming these are the teams to go to the Finals, it would be another match-up of veteran squads as both teams rank among the top five in age in the NBA.
So what about five years from now? Will the race for a title be as predictable as it has been recently?
In my eyes, there are two teams that will be contending for the title for years to come. Both come from the Western Conference as the West overall has had the more dominant teams (other than a select few in the East).
Look in the future to see big things from the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Both OKC and L.A. were among the best in the league, grabbing the two and three seeds in the West, respectively, entering the playoffs.
However, OKC is struggling mightily against San Antonio and the Clippers couldn’t overcome the playoff struggles they have faced in recent years.
Nevertheless, this all could be very different three and five years from now. Both teams have great youth and all-star players that with time, could lead their team to rings.
Starting with the Thunder, OKC features the reigning MVP, and it doesn’t seem like Durant has any motive to slow down. He’s long, versatile on offense, and is basically impossible to guard.
Coupled with Westbrook, the athletic point guard, who can rebound, facilitate or score and the two make one of the deadly duos in the NBA.
However, Serge Ibaka’s injury exposed OKC’s weakness: depth, especially on the inside. Ibaka is athletic, completing the Big Three in scoring. Without him, the Thunder could be better defensively, but it put too much of a burden on Durant and Westbrook to score.
The Thunder have several young players that are up and coming, such as Reggie Jackson and several young post players that have stepped up in Ibaka’s absence.
The Clippers, similarly, have superstars to base their team around and simply need to build and mature.
L.A. did not go down easily unlike last year. They did lose to OKC, in a series they should have lost in terms of rankings, so the Clippers are on the way up.
One reason for this is the focus on defense that Doc Rivers brought as a head coach. If this continues, this team makes its way to the top.
As far as personnel, the Clippers have on the best point guards in the NBA in Chris Paul. I think he still needs to be more aggressive on offense at times, but he is their floor general and had a great year.
Blake Griffin also had a monster year, cementing himself as one of the great forwards in the league today. He is not only dominant down low, but extended his range and showed greater maturity this season.
L.A. has better depth than OKC as of right now, so when this team clicks, it will be dangerous for years to come…and be very entertaining to watch.