Stacking Sullies NBA

Darren Zaslau, Sports Editor

The 2015–2016 Golden State Warriors polished off their best NBA regular season ever with a record of 73–9. Led by star point guard and two-time MVP Stephen Curry, last year’s Warriors were just about as perfect as a basketball team can be.

Enter Kevin Durant. Adding a seven-time All-Star, former MVP and four-time scoring titleholder to the mix makes the Warriors virtually untouchable and destined to rack up lopsided victories against teams who just can’t compete.

As the general viewership of sports decreases, stacking teams in the NBA is not helping the situation. The only way to combat the imminent fan disinterest is through a stricter salary cap.

Currently, the NBA salary cap is $94.14 million, up from $70 million last year. Teams now have even more room to pay exorbitant amounts of money to multiple star players and stack their rosters. If the NBA sets a lower salary cap, even the wealthiest teams will be able to afford just one or a few stars. Teams will be much less likely to form untouchable powerhouses.

Considering how the NBA is handling the salary cap now, think about how much worse it could get. This past April, USA Today Sports cited an NBA memo explaining that the 2017–2018 salary cap could be increased to as high as to $107 million since the league signed a nine-year, $24-million media rights deal. By that time, the Warriors may end their regular season at 82–0.

But Golden State isn’t the first team that has threatening to ruin NBA competition. Stacking teams was popular even in the 1980s when the Boston Celtics boasted the legendary trio of Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. “The Big Three,” with a combined 62,460 points and 30,811 rebounds, led the Celtics to three NBA championships.

Keep in mind that, before signing Durant, Golden State had stellar talent not only with Curry, but also with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Green, the fiery centerpiece of the squad, is one of the league’s best power forwards, averaging nearly 12 points per game last season. Thompson is considered one of the most well-rounded players in the NBA, averaging 22 points per game.

With the addition of Durant, it may seem like the Warriors have a modern version of “The Big Three” plus one, starring Curry, Durant and Thompson, with Green cast in a crucial supporting role.

Durant’s championship-chasing decision to say goodbye to the Oklahoma City Thunder left many fans jarred over the 2016 off-season. OKC has been Durant’s home for the past eight years. Some fans believe that he gave up hope on the team while others are still bitter from last year’s Western Conference Finals, in which the Warriors defeated the Thunder in seven tense games.

Regardless of Durant’s motivation for his decision, his move hurt the NBA. According to head NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, the Warriors are a rare “odds-on” favorite to win the NBA championship this season. The team’s odds are at minus-150, or 2–3, meaning they are heavy favorites. As a result, the point-spreads for certain games on Golden State’s schedule will be predicted blowouts. Sherman also believes that when the Warriors host the Brooklyn Nets, who went 21–61 last year, Golden State will hold a never-before seen advantage as 24.5-point favorites.

For the NBA to remain interesting, the salary cap should be set at approximately 60 percent of what it currently is. A $65-million salary cap will still give teams the ability to sign star players but prohibit general managers from unfairly monopolizing on talent.

With a steadily increasing salary cap, you can count me out from watching lopsided professional basketball games. Until the cap in the NBA is lowered, basketball fans in Oakland, CA, will rejoice every year as the Golden State Warriors reign supreme.