NBA: Nuggets, Bucks brought parity at the top in 2019-20

NBA Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
NBA Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Looking back at the 2019-20 NBA season, it should be remembered as one that brought parity back to the Association.

The current NBA season, before the hiatus, was bucking recent trends in terms of teams in contention.

While flashy, big-name cities like Los Angeles (both teams), Boston, Miami, and Houston were certainly near the top of the standings for much of the season, there were a few other “smaller-named” franchises  – Milwaukee, Denver, Utah, Toronto – that saw them emerge as real contenders this season.

And after the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA championship last season, it’s a welcoming recent trend.

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On paper, the Milwaukee Bucks (who have arguably the best player in the NBA on their roster) were considered the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference and perhaps win the NBA championship altogether.

In the middle of the hiatus, the Bucks have the best record in the NBA at 53-12, two games ahead of the Lakers in the overall standings. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was also well on pace to win his second NBA MVP, the Bucks had been the most impressive team (beginning to end) this season.

The Bucks hadn’t lost back-to-back games all season until they entered the hiatus with a three-game losing streak. And most of that had to do with the fact that Giannis was out for two of those three games.

Milwaukee also had an 18-game winning streak that stretched from November to December. All in all, there’s no question about the Bucks being a contender.

In the West, the Denver Nuggets were the smaller-market team that no one seemed to be talking about. At 43-22 and just 1.5 games back of the Clippers entering the hiatus, the Nuggets were surely going to have an impact in the playoffs.

Led by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, the Nuggets have been riding under the radar for the past two years, despite being one of the most dominating regular season teams over that span.

Interestingly, much like the Raptors last season, neither the Bucks or Nuggets have had much success in the playoffs. In fact, the Bucks have not won an NBA Championship since 1970-71 and haven’t appeared in the NBA Finals since the 1973-74 season.

The Nuggets, on the other hand, don’t have an NBA Championship to their name and have only made the conference finals three times in their 40-plus year history.

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Given the parity and open field this season in the NBA, not being able to continue the 2019-20 campaign would be a huge disappointment. Coming off a season in which we saw one franchise win their first NBA championship in history, we could’ve been on the verge of seeing another franchise do the same thing.