By Justin Thomas
The upcoming NBA season might be the most anticipated in history. This in part thanks to what was arguably the wildest off season in recent memory. With that being said here are a few things to look out for this NBA season.
The Warriors come in to this season as the favorite to win the Finals yet again. On paper it almost seems unfair and pointless to play the season. Steph has shown he hasn’t lost his shooting touch, Klay is still lethal, Draymond is Draymond and Kevin Durant is still one of the most un-guardable players on the planet. Lack of chemistry won’t be a problem this year as not many things build team chemistry like winning a ring. The fact that KD missed over 20 games last season and they still ended with over 60 wins shows just how dominant they are. In the playoffs the Dubs went 16-1 making mince-meat of all that came across their path. With some new additions such as Omri Casspi and Nick Young the Warriors are in prime position to cement their hold as a dynasty.
Power Packed Western Conference
With this offseason being one of the busiest in recent history the western conference saw the formation of 2 more super teams. The Thunder acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony via trade and the Rockets acquired Chris Paul. Although Westbrook led the Thunder to a playoff berth last season the acquisition of Melo and PG13 catapult them into NBA Finals conversations. The Rockets were the 3 seed last season as the Harden led team put up staggeringly good offensive numbers. The addition of CP3 means Harden won’t have to handle the ball as much which will help spread the floor even more. With all the firepower at the top you can’t forget about the Spurs who you know will be near the top of the conference as they are every year. Even the mid-level teams have taken big steps. Minnesota’s new trio of Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins and now Jimmy Butler make them a legitimate playoff contender and even the Nuggets’ acquisition of Paul Milsap put them in the playoff picture as well. Needless to say night in and night out there’s going to be a good game.
Finally the moment Philadelphia basketball fans have been waiting for. All the draft picks are finally healthy and “The Process” can finally start. The Sixers faithful got a glimpse of what is to come last season with Joel Embiid. Even though he played less than 35 games, he put up sensational numbers. Numbers good enough to have some thinking he should have won the Rookie of the Year award. The Sixers organization believes in Embiid which is why they gave him a 5 year extension worth $146.5 million last week. The drafting of Markelle Fultz in this year’s draft gives the Sixers their point guard for the future. Philly will also have a healthy Ben Simmons who can also handle the ball and take pressure off the other young stars. Along with the talented young core the sixers also have a solid veteran presence with players such as JJ Reddick, Amir Johnson and Jared Bayless. After almost half a decade of mediocrity there will finally be some basketball excitement on Broad Street.
Battle for the East
Clearly the two favorite teams in the sub-par Eastern Conference are the Celtics and the Cavaliers. Over the offseason they basically swapped point guards as the Celtics acquired Kyrie for Isaiah Thomas. Although Thomas is expected to miss significant time this season due to a hip injury the Cavs are still the favorite with the new additions they got in the offseason. Hopefully for the Cavs D-Wade and D-Rose can channel their abilities from a few years ago and propel the Cavaliers through the playoffs. However it also doesn’t hurt when you have LeBron James. The Celtics added high value free agent Gordon Hayward in July which adds even more firepower to their offense. Losing their best perimeter defender Avery Bradley does hurt their defensive prowess however coach brad Stevens is sure to come up with great game plans to make up for losses on the defensive end.