History is a fun topic and what makes it fun is there is room to ask the question “what if?” What if some intelligent Greek funded a primitive steam engine? Would we be an interstellar species by now? We will never, but there is room for speculation. Same thing goes with the NBA, there is room to ask “what if?” so here are my top 5 “what ifs” of the 2010s.
5. What If Kendrick Perkins Didn’t Get Hurt In 2010?
The 2010 NBA Finals were one of the most intense, hard fought series in NBA history. Game seven was like the 15th Round in a boxing match, whoever got in that one good hit, was going to win, and in this case, it was the Lakers.
However, some might forget that Perkins was hurt that game, and Rasheed Wallace was the starter. While Wallace was a better offensive player than Perkins was the better defensive one. It was not Kobe that was dominant in game 7, he only shot 6 for 24. He was awful shooting that night. It was Gasol and Odom who were the efficient scorers. Without Perkins, the Celtics were unable to stop the LA bigs. So, what if he was there? Well, the Celtics might have won game 7. It might have pushed the Lakers to make a move earlier, maybe Boston keeps adding around the core knowing that they won 2 of the last 3 titles.
Lastly, it would change the perception of Kobe Bryant. He would have lost to the Celtics twice, wouldn’t have as many rings as Magic. He probably wouldn’t be the greatest Laker of all time. Or maybe, it would have driven him to win in 2011 and we would have gotten that LeBron vs. Kobe matchup we wanted. Then that changes Dirk’s legacy as he would not have gotten to the finals at all. So, what if Perkins was there for game 7?
4. What If Derrick Rose Didn’t Tear His ACL?
Rose was arguably the most dominant point guard in 2011. He was the youngest MVP winner in league history. He averaged 25 points and 8 assists a game in 2011. He was also a durable player, playing 82 games in his first 3 seasons in the League. This was a man leading the Bulls to the top seed in the east, and his injury devastated the Bulls. Rose was the main scorer, who could dominate a game at any moment. There was a play he had against Miami where he just went straight through the Heat’s defense and threw it down. What Rose was, was a less ball-dominant Westbrook, who knew when to give it up.
He led his team to the top spot in the East twice and was looking to be one of the most dominant forces that we have seen. But, he got hurt, and now he’s a slightly above-average point guard who is in a system that he is not comfortable in. With a healthy Rose, that would make the Bulls backcourt one of the best because I believe that Jimmy Butler would rise to his current level. Personally, I think the reason he didn’t get back to his old self was that he was hesitant to return when he was healthy. It was similar to Paul George, a gruesome injury and they were out a year, and yet, Rose choose to sit the whole year while George played 6 games and that gave him the confidence he needed to come back better than ever the following year. Rose’s injury robbed us of an all-time great point guard and a massive “What if?”
3. What If Brandon Roy Did Not Get Injured?
Brandon Roy has two plays that I will never forget. It was in 2009, I believe, Portland against Houston, in overtime, Roy caught a pass from Steve Blake and elevates over Ming and drills a three for the win. The second was the last brilliant performance from Brandon Roy. It was game 4 of the first round of the 2011 playoffs, Portland against Dallas. Brandon Roy scored 22 points in the fourth quarter and won them the game. That is how I choose to leave my memory of Brandon Roy but what if I didn’t have too. If he didn’t get hurt, I think he would have been the best 2 guard in the game.
He could do it all, was clutch, he was so fun to watch. The Blazers could have been a great team. Roy and Aldridge are you one two punch, maybe they don’t do well and get Lillard, and in 2013 instead of C.J. McCollum being their draft choice, they take the Greek Freak, have Batum as a 6th man, this could have been a truly dangerous team. Sadly, Roy had got hurt.
2. What If CP3 Went To LA?
As a Laker fan, this trade still bothers me, the only solace that I have is the fact that the Clippers have yet to reach a conference finals. If this trade went through, the Lakers would have had the best backcourt in the NBA. The top point guard in Chris Paul and the top shooting guard in Kobe Bryant would have been monstrous. Both of these guys are hard headed, competitive, and want to win. This would have taken the work load off of Kobe as he would no longer need to initiate the offense. While Nash came to LA, he was injured and rarely played. A healthy Paul and Kobe could have helped the Lakers get back to the finals regardless of the other players around them.
Dwight might not have come to LA, Nash would have ended his career in Phoenix. Given the current state of the Lakers, it is easy to see how such an event would drastically change their fortune. Also, without the Howard trade, Los Angeles would not have to be on pins and needles about giving up draft picks to Philly. This is one of those moments that changed pro-basketball in LA, and will always have the “what if” attached to it.
1. What If The Thunder Big Three Stayed Together?
There is an argument to be made that Durant, Harden and Westbrook are the top three players in the NBA (personally, I think they are 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively, with LeBron and Kawhi taking the top 2 spots). No matter where you rank them, they are dominant forces which the NBA has not seen in a while, whether it be Durant’s pure scoring ability, Harden’s playmaking, and Westbrook’s ability to get triple-doubles, it is insane.
5 years ago, they were on the same, and while they were not the same players that they are now, they were still incredibly talented. If the three stayed together, Kevin would have been head of the snake, Westbrook would have learned that he did not need to do everything for them. Harden would have turned into the Manu Ginobli type, a 6th starter. He would not have had the numbers that he puts up now, but maybe he would have been the 6th man on a team that won 3 titles. It is incredible to watch Durant, Harden and Westbrook and it makes you wonder how utterly dominant would they be if the trio stayed in OKC.
History is a fun topic due to the question of, “what if?” and this is especially true when it comes to the NBA. It provides a limitless amount of conversation to occur, wondering what would happen if players stayed on teams, were not injured or played a different way and answering these questions can be difficult yet fun.