Oh my, the Western Conference! It’s so different! So go the exclamations. Last year’s Kevin Durant decision led the best team in the NBA to become, what, the bestest team in the NBA? Yes, and so to compete with the Warriors, the only team with two NBA MVPs still in their prime on the roster (Curry, Durant), changes were made all over. The OKC Thunder is trying to give their MVP triple-double maker Russell Westbrook an actual triple-superstar situation, adding Paul George and the Olympian Carmelo Anthony (so-called because the Olympics is all Anthony ever wins, though he’s damn good at them). Houston got Chris Paul. That’s as big a deal as a small man can be in the NBA.
Those are the teams who everybody talks about — while the Spurs, owners of the second-best record in the NBA last year, keep doing their thing under Gregg Popovich. Why OKC is suddenly a better team than San Antonio in people’s minds is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Before Zaza Pachulia stuck his foot under Kawhi Leonard’s foot, the Spurs were slapping the imperious Warriors around in Game 1. Leonard couldn’t come back and neither could the Spurs, but only those with short memories (and Steve Kerr isn’t one) forget the Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge just signed an extension and seems finally happy with his spot. Kawhi is injured for now but will return. By the way, Spurs won two-of-three 2016-17 regular season matchups with the “unbeatable” Warriors.