Basketball is back! It’s Opening Night in the NBA as all 30 teams begin a new season with the hopes and dreams that this is their year to win it all. Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are your defending champions. which is something Cavaliers fans will be saying for the first time in history. The NBA offseason provided us with more drama than a Kardashian family dinner. We said goodbye to living legends like Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Oh, and I think a guy named Kevin Durant went to the Warriors.
Let’s take a look at five of the biggest storylines for the upcoming season.
1. Are The Warriors The New Villains In The NBA?
Like I mentioned above, Kevin Durant packed his bags and headed towards the West Coast as he joined the Golden State Warriors. It’s not like the defending two-time Western Conference champions were in dire need of a break. They already have Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Plus, the Warriors won 73 freaking games without Kevin Durant! Durant got a ton of heat for leaving Oklahoma City, a team who had a 3-1 lead against the Warriors in the Conference Finals before losing the series. Because of that, the Warriors went from an exciting, lovable team to the most hated in the NBA. For viewers, you are going to watch the Warriors for two reasons. You either are a fan of the Warriors or you want to see them fail. I was totally ok with Durant leaving the Thunder for the Warriors, but Golden State will be the bad guys whether you like it or not.
2. Can Any Team Stop The Warriors And Cavaliers From Playing In The NBA Finals?
Once Durant signed with the Warriors, everyone decided to pencil in the Warriors vs. Cavs in an NBA Finals Rematch. Is this good for the game if fans have to wait eight months for an outcome that we know will happen? It depends on your thinking. If you want to see another epic final round like last year, you’re more than likely going to get it again. However, if you root for one of the 28 other teams in the league, your season is over before it even starts. That being said, can anyone stop the Warriors or Cavs from reaching the finals? Truthfully, I can only see one team that can play as a spoiler and that’s the San Antonio Spurs. Despite losing Tim Duncan, the Spurs added Pau Gasol and still have LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Lenoard and the best coach in the NBA, Greg Poppovich. I’m not saying that it’s going to happen, but the Spurs are your best bet for an upset.
3. Who Will Win The MVP, Russell Westbrook or James Harden?
Finally, something a Warrior or Cav won’t win! The MVP race will be between Russell Westbrook and James Harden and that’s just a fact. Both guys are going to put up video game numbers. Westbrook officially has the keys to the Thunder’s offense, which means his stat sheet will be loaded every night. It’s highly possible that Westbrook might average close to a triple-double. In turn, James Harden could score 40 every night in Mike D’Antoni’s system. Harden is now the point guard for the Rockets so the ball will be in his hands every possession. I’d give the slight edge to Westbrook because I think his team will do better, but if you like offense, these two will be fun to watch.
4. Which Teams Will Take The Next Step And Become Playoff Contenders?
Frankly, I actually think finding the answer to this question is pretty easy. It’s the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics. I understand that these two teams were the “sexy picks” for every NBA analyst, but it’s true. Both of these teams are young and gaining experience by the day. The Timberwolves have found their cornerstone in Karl-Anthony Towns. Add Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Tyus Jones to the mix and that’s a solid core of young talent. New coach Tom Thibodeau is the perfect veteran coach to make a playoff push. While Minnesota is on the brink of the playoffs, the Celtics are on the brink of being the second best team in the Eastern Conference. That’s how good I think this team can be. Danny Ainge aka Danny Draft Picks has built this team from scratch and the years of gathering young talent is starting to pay off. Al Horford adds a much-needed post-presence and Brad Stevens is slowly becoming the best coach in the NBA (heard it here first). They’re still one year away from truly contending, but the Celtics will continue to show tremendous promise.
5. Can The Knicks Turn It Around And Make The Playoffs?
The most frustrating team in the NBA to root for is by far the New York Knicks. Every season usually starts with a lot of hope and it seems to always end with a lot of disappointment. However, this year is going to be different… seriously. The Knicks had one of the best off-seasons out of any team in the league. The additions of Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Brandon Jennings and Joakim Noah are infinitely better than the roster from last year. I look at all of those players as guys with something to prove. They weren’t wanted by their old teams and now it’s time to show the world that they still can be stars, especially Rose. That being said, like him or hate him, the season will only go as far as Carmelo Anthony takes them. Don’t get me wrong, Kristaps Porzingis is our future and who the franchise should build around. Knowing this, Melo has to change the way he plays. Melo is still going to have to put the ball in the hoop, but he has to give up more shots and pass the ball around to the younger guys. This is a gut-check year for Melo. I truly believe he will shut up all his critics this year, but only if he starts to act like the true leader of this team. There is no reason why the Knicks can’t be a four to six seed and win a playoff series. I truly believe that this is the year the franchise will take a step in the right direction. In Phil We Trust.