There's parity in the NBA again but the overwhelming Boston Celtics are destined to ruin it all.
For the longest time, one of the biggest criticisms of the NBA was that it lacked parity. In the 1980s, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics won eight of 10 championships. In the 1990s, the Chicago Bulls owned the decade. The early-2000s were dominated by the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. The 2010s belonged to the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors.
The story of the 2020s still has yet to be written and there's hope that parity can persist considering four different teams have won the championship through the first four years of this decade (Lakers, Bucks, Warriors, Nuggets). And thus far in the 2023-24 season, we're seeing more and more of that newfound parity.
The growing parity around the NBA
Taking a quick glance at the NBA standings, you can make the argument that there's been more parity this season than last year. The difference between the second seed and the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference standings is three games (in the loss column). Four teams in the East are tied with 15 losses and one has 16. There are even four teams with 21 or 22 losses that are going to be fighting for the final two spots in the NBA's Play-In Tournament.
Out West, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder are sitting as the No. 1 and 2 seeds. If that's not enough to sell you on the parity that's taking place in that conference, add in the fact that the top seed and 7th seed are separated by just five games. The 12th seed is also only 1.5 games back of the 8th seed.
All in all, at nearly the halfway point of the season, there are only five games that can completely count out a second-half push toward the postseason. Parity.
Last season heading into the playoffs, there was no unanimous championship favorite. The hope was that would continue to be the case heading into this year's postseason. However, there may be one team that will end up spoiling the NBA's newfound parity.
The Boston Celtics are ruining the NBA's parity
At the near midway point of the season, the Boston Celtics are head and shoulders the best team in the league. After the moves they made during the offseason, which included acquiring Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, the Celtics are storming through the Eastern Conference. Through 36 games this season, the Celtics have an NBA-best 28-8 record. Boston has the second-best offensive rating, the second-best defensive rating, and the best net rating.
The Celtics are doing it on the floor and on paper have arguably the best starting 5 in the league. Even if the NBA is experiencing its most parity-filled season in years, it's hard to imagine the Celtics taking part in any of that.
If the super team era is over in the NBA, someone forgot to give the message to the Celtics. And the scariest part of Boston's success this season is the fact that they still have the assets to make small improvements to the roster ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline.
At this point, it would be surprising if the Celtics didn't march their way to the NBA Finals with little to no resistance. Whether or not a team like the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference can compete with them on the greatest stage remains to be seen. At least for now, though, it sure seems as if the Celtics are in a position to ruin the league's parity party.