The NBA season tips off tonight. Read on for what we'll be looking for this season as well as our predictions on who will will the title.
1. The Golden State Warriors
One team alone gives us plentiful storylines to watch. The record-setting season ended in disappointment, but the Warriors seemingly won the off season by snagging Durant. So, who has to sacrifice their game to allow KD to be the prolific scorer he's accustomed to? Can Draymond stay out of trouble on and off the court? Will the team have enough depth? Can this team match last year's record? Do they even want to? This team may be more scrutinized than the Miami Heat of a few years ago. We're excited to see what happens.
2. Can the Cavs repeat?
There is always the concern of a championship hangover, but the Eastern Conference doesn't offer much of a challenge outside of Boston. For the Cavs, the two biggest challenges will be health and the ability to "flip the switch" come playoff time. With Kyrie looking like the player we all thought he could be during the NBA Finals, Cleveland will be heavily favored to come out of the East.
3. Kobe, Tim Duncan & KG are all gone. Who are the new stars?
The loss of the star trio will need to be filled. Who are the players ready to step up? There are a few on the Minnesota roster as potential risers, especially Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Devin Booker is another one who comes to mind as he is an incredible scorer. D'Angelo Russell would be the point guard of this hypothetical "Risers" team, with Kristaps Porzingis making himself a household name in NYC as a solid, marketable player.
MVP - LeBron James
A tough one to call, as Curry, KD, Kawhi Leonard all could stake a claim to this, not to mention Russell Westbrook, who might be out to prove to the world he's every bit as good as Durant. However, in the end, I think LeBron has one more solid regular season MVP push in him. He seemed to show irritation at the fact he was barely considered for the award last year and went on a warpath towards a title. Even though the Cavs might be in a bit of a cruise control mode during the regular season LeBron, always cognizant of his (potential) place in NBA history, will likely want to add another trophy to his legacy.
Rookie of the Year - Buddy Hield
The injury to Ben Simmons makes this a more wide open race, so we could also see Brandon Ingram or a few others make a push, but Hield, who can shoot the lights out, will be given every opportunity to succeed in New Orleans.
Eastern Conference Finals - Cleveland over Boston
Neither team is much of a surprise choice, but that says more about an underwhelming Eastern Conference than anything else. Expect the Cavs to turn it up a notch in the playoffs and make another run.
Western Conference Finals - Golden State over San Antonio
It feels like there could be young team to rise up, (Utah anyone?) or that the Clippers could make one last push (Can they ever stay fully healthy?), but the weakening of OKC leaves the Spurs as the likely second best team in the Western Conference.
NBA Finals - Golden State over Cleveland
Yes, we're headed towards another showdown between the Warriors and Cavaliers. Try as you might, unless injuries become a major factor, it's hard not to see these two teams headed for their third consecutive NBA Finals meeting. This time, though, the addition of Durant gives the Warriors an unstoppable scorer who will be the difference.
This will be a fun post to refer to in June when the NBA Finals begin. How do you see the season playing out?