We are days away from the return of basketball! Not Summer League, or the Euro-basket, real basketball!
After the arguably the most predictable season in NBA history, we had the most unpredictable offseason. D’angello Russel, Markel Fultz, Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul, Gordan Hayward, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving, and Isaiah Thomas. Just some names that will debut on a new court, with a new jersey on, come October 17th.
All this is a reaction to the Golden State Warrior’s dominance, and Kevin Durant’s move to the record breaking team last summer. Following a year of 3-1 jokes and constant pressure, they nearly swept there way to the finals, missing it barely, due to an absolutely perfect game by the second best team, the Cavaliers.
After such a performance, it was expected that most teams would give up for the next 5 years, until the MVP duo of Curry and Durant eventually begin to fall off.
The exact opposite happened, OKC, Houston, Timberwolves, Boston, and Cleveland went all in. Trading assets and signing all stars to give them a chance to take down the beast from the bay.
Speaking of the bay, they weren’t quiet either. Steph Curry is back, and guaranteed himself a, then record breaking, $201M over 5 years. Kevin Durant took a huge pay cut, to help set the warriors up for the resigning of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. They even got better at shooting three-pointers, by adding specialists Nick Young and Omri Casspi to their bench.
Safe to say, the offseason has been extremely eventful. Although, what will come out of it? Here are my predictions for the upcoming season.
The East will remain basically the same; the Cavaliers will be the first seed, Celtics second, and then a mix of the Wizards, Heat, Raptors, and Bucks in the next four spots, followed by the Hornets and 76ers filling out the final two spots in the playoffs.
The West is much more complicated; the Warriors will dominate the standings, grabbing the first seed, then the Spurs, who will be led by the the miracle power of coach Pop. Then the Thunder, who will edge out the Rockets by a small amount due to more star power. The Timberwolves will break their 14 year playoff drought, and make the 5th seed. Although, the final three spots can be filled in with the Pelicans, Blazers, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Clippers, and Jazz. I think the Clippers, Pelicans, and Nuggets will end up getting them, but they won’t be locked in until the final night of the regular season.
In the end, the Warriors and Cavaliers will probably face off for the fourth time in a row, but this time the Cavaliers will overcome the star-studded team, simply due to the fatigue the Warriors experience after having to go through three rounds of great Western Conference teams, as they may face off against the twin towers from New Orleans in the first round, a young and athletic timberwolves team in the second round, and either the same Spurs team that they have always struggled with or the rival new-look thunder, who will be more than motivated to destroy the Warriors to the best of their ability.
Obviously, this is all based off of the teams on paper, and assumes that no injuries or breakout seasons occur with any team.
The only thing I can guarantee is that we are going to see a lot of old faces in new places, and growing pains are going to be extremely common for the first half of the season. Hopefully, by May the teams will be healthy and prepared for a much more interesting battle in the playoffs than last year.