Kobe Bryant doesn’t care about Stephen Curry.
In the NBA, there are the matters and the matter-nots.
But Curry isn’t alone. He’s just one face of the many NBA franchises taking part in the league’s 82-game exhibition season in preparation for the true season, the playoffs. The reality is that only 10 NBA teams truly matter in 2012-13.
The NBA landscape resembles some sort of funky neighborhood where first-class mansions cast shadows over huts, shacks and Bobcats. In this neighborhood, even Kings are unable to remodel while the mansions grow continually superior—and Dan Gilbert might not be so much as invited for another BBQ in a long, long time.
In the new super-team NBA, it’s even more difficult to become a surprise contender. While the inevitable party crasher may looks to spoil the celebration of riches from time to time, they rarely stay for dessert. When was the last time a non-favorite won an NBA championship, 1892?
The 2011 Dallas Mavericks may be the biggest surprise champions since before the Jordan era, mostly because of their finals upset against the favorite Miami Heat, but even they had the sixth-best odds in Vegas heading into that season.
There simply aren’t big surprises in the NBA. Surprises happen in year-by-year steps:
1. “OK, wow they had a pretty good season. They might be good next year.”
2. “They were pretty good this year. They are knocking on the door.”
3. “They are contenders this year.”
4. “They are contenders again this year, and they now signed another superstar.”
Fans either learn to appreciate the modest charm of their huts and shacks or they simply sneak in the back doors of the mansions. But for the loyalists of NBA franchises destined for the lottery or early playoff bow-outs, the 2012-13 season doesn’t offer much hope.
Here’s a look at the only 10 franchises that matter this season.