Way Below N.B.A. Powerhouses, It’s Still High Picks and Distant Hopes

And do not make the common mistake of calling any of the primary players in this series a supernova, a reference to a massive star in its final evolutionary stage. Even in the case of the 32-year-old LeBron James, burnout is unlikely anytime soon.

With the rare exceptions of the truly gifted and blessedly affiliated, the N.B.A. finals — basketball’s ultimate stage — are seldom a showcase for those not long removed from the clutches of the N.C.A.A. hype machine. Kyrie Irving, genius innovator of the midair maneuver, was 24 when he helped take down the Warriors last year but was already in his fifth N.B.A. season. Draymond Green was only a third-year player as a part of the Warriors’ original Big Three during their 2015 title run, but he was 25, having spent four years at Michigan State.

In his second N.B.A. season, San Antonio’s…

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