The NBA Offseason Just Started And It's Already Abundantly Clear That The Champs Are Changing The League

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For the most part, the NBA (especially in its recent era) is a copycat league. In 2008 when the Celtics brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, it changed how the rest of the league went about building their rosters. You needed a Big 3 during that era, which is exactly what we saw with the Heat during the LeBron years. They were pretty open about how that trade changed everything.

When the Warriors Dynasty showed up, the game changed again. Now you needed elite three point shooting, and a whole lot of it. To win at a high level, you had to be able to match that type of firepower. No longer could you trade 3s for 2s if you wanted to reach the top of the mountain. As a result, we saw teams try and replicate this, like the James Harden Rockets teams. 

When the Denver Nuggets became a force and won their title, things shifted again. Now, unless you had size at every position, you were going to be in a world of hurt. We saw teams across the league shift their rosters for this specific team, similar to what we saw the Wolves do this past season.

Basically, the champs decide what the rest of the league is going to look like.

Enter the 2024 NBA Champion Boston Celtics (maybe you've heard of them).

All season long, I screamed it until I was blue in the face. I don't care who your superstar was or what your star duo was, unless you have multiple elite perimeter defenders that have size, length, and quickness, you aren't beating this version of the NBA Champion Boston Celtics 4 out of 7 times in a playoff series. You're just not.

We saw it during the year against teams like MIL with Giannis/Dame, who continued to have all sorts of issues because they couldn't stop the Celts wings/guards on the perimeter. It never mattered that Joel Embiid was an awesome player as long as the games were played before April, because the Sixers did not have the perimeter defenders. The Heat, even with Jimmy Butler, were forced to throw out Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson and small point guards to try and limit the Celts firepower. The Cavs were trotting out Max Strus and small guards like Darius Garland. The Mavs, who many before the Finals were certain would take down the Celtics, got their asses whooped in 5 games because why?

They couldn't stop the Celtics wings/guards from getting into the paint. Their perimeter defense, led by their best player, was dogshit.

To beat the new Kings of The NBA, you have to be able to match up with them. If you can't, nothing you do or try is going to work. In the playoffs, it all boils down to matchups. Can you present a challenge that your opponent simply cannot solve due to their roster construction? If the answer is yes, you will become a champion. 

The NBA offseason has just started, and already we're seeing how the rest of the league is responding. As I said, this is a copycat league that morphs into whatever the current champ is. Take the Lakers for example, their new head coach JJ Redick made a pretty interesting comment in his opening presser

Sure sounds familiar to me! Unfortunately, JJ is soon going to learn that he does not have the roster talent or skillset to play the proven championship brand of basketball known as Mazzulla Ball, but that's his problem, not mine. 

From a roster construction standpoint, we've already had two "big" trades so far this summer and what do they consist of?


In one corner, you have a budding contender in OKC realizing that to finally take that next step, they needed more perimeter defense and three point shooting. 

In the other corner, you have a Knicks team that's looking to make a push to at least make an ECF. What have they done? Well, considering the division and conference they play in, they brought in a perimeter defender and three point shooter in an effort to be a better matchup. 

What has caused all this you think? Well, part of it is franchises like the Bulls having no clue what the hell they're doing, but also because the blueprint is out. To beat the champs, you have to do your best to build a replica of the champs.

You need to have as many versatile perimeter players as you can get on the floor so you can try and stop these guys

Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox. Getty Images.

All you have to do is look at this past season. There were really only two teams that truly gave the 2024 NBA Champion Boston Celtics fits. One being the at the time defending champs Denver Nuggets, and the other the Minnesota Timberwolves.

What do both of those teams have in common?

They have elite size at every position and multiple legit perimeter defenders. They had the personnel to match up with the Celts two best players on the wing, they had the size to protect the rim and the glass, and those were key components to limiting the Celtics 5 out offense. If you can't keep Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum out of the paint, you are cooked. It's really as simple as that. So to do that, you need elite wing defenders who can guard their yard without help. 

You may not like it or want to accept it, but this is your new reality as a fan of an opposing team. You have to solve the Boston Celtics problem if you want to reach the top of the mountain, and you can't do that unless you 


A) Figure out how to play a similar style of Mazzulla Ball

B) Have the roster construction to limit their two best players

This doesn't mean other teams can't achieve those things, but what it does mean is unless you do, you stand no chance. The sample is large enough since Joe Mazzulla took over, and I think it's fair to suggest the style in which the Celts play is the future of the league moving forward. How Brad Stevens has built his roster for the foreseeable future means things aren't changing any time soon. If you can't load up and find ways to adapt to what the champs do best, things just aren't going to work out well for you.

So while some may be clowning the Knicks for the price they paid for Bridges, to me I consider that the price of doing business. The Knicks have seen up close just how daunting it is to take down the champs (1-4 vs BOS in 2024). They saw the success trading for OG had by bringing in an elite wing defender/3pt shooter, so at that point you overpay if you have to if it means bringing in another body to throw at Tatum/Brown.

Sadly, it's still not enough. Deep down in their gut, Knicks fans know that. At the end of the day, they will still have a target on the floor defensively on the perimeter for teams to attack in a playoff series who will also be asked to guard a much bigger player on the other end. That hole unfortunately still exists.

With the Draft starting tonight and free agency around the corner, this is certainly only the beginning of the rest of the NBA doing their best to re-calibrate their teams in an effort to take down the champs. 

I have to admit, it's certainly been fun to see these other teams try and mimic what Brad Stevens has built all while knowing that frankly, they still have a ways to go.