Before the league went into the offseason, we saw the heartfelt story of Lebron James finally winning a championship for his home state of Ohio, in Game 7. However, the wait is finally over as posterizers, deep 3’s, and jaw-dropping basketball plays will be raging over the internet again. The NBA is back!
Notable Offseason Moves: During the offseason, many players found new homes, drastically altering the NBA landscape. The most notable and controversial move was Kevin Durant joining forces with All-Stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors to form the scariest team in the league – at least on paper. Al Horford, former Atlanta Hawks center, moved north to join a young Boston Celtics team led by Isaiah Thomas while Dwight Howard signed with the Hawks to replace Horford. The Chicago Bulls also landed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade this offseason in hopes of returning to the playoffs after a one year hiatus. However, by signing two players with career 3-point field goal percentages under 30% and adding them to a roster that already has limited shooting, floor spacing will be a major issue for the team. The New York Knicks acquired former all-stars in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to form what Rose dubbed a “super team” with Carmelo Anthony and rising youngster Kristaps Porzingis. The Memphis Grizzlies made headlines by re-signing Mike Conley to the largest contract in NBA history at $153 million dollars over 5 years and adding versatile forward Chandler Parsons to its ranks. Other notable moves include the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs picked up Harrison Barnes and Pau Gasol respectively.
Rookies To Watch: With number 1 draft pick Ben Simmons sitting out the first few months of the season, the attention of the rookie field shifts to Joel Embiid, Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield. With fellow 76ers Simmons and Nerlens Noel out for an extended amount of time, Embiid will be the focal point of a diabolically bad 76ers offense. Ingram is an intriguing prospect with exceptional physical tools and it will be interesting to see what Ingram can do under new Los Angeles Lakers coach, Luke Walton. Dunn is the Minnesota Timberwolves’ new backup point guard behind Ricky Rubio, but he should theoretically thrive under new coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive schemes. Hield finds himself playing alongside Anthony Davis on the New Orleans Pelicans, but the high scoring guard will have to prove himself on a Pelicans team that is currently stacked with shooting guards like E’Twaun Moore and Tyreke Evans. There is no sure-fire Rookie of the Year this year.
Watch Out!: The biggest question for this season is not if the Warriors will play well with the new addition of Durant, but rather, just how good will the Warriors be next season? On paper, the Warriors may possibly be the greatest NBA team ever assembled and seem downright unstoppable with 4 All-NBA players including the reigning MVP. This question is extremely scary considering the Warriors had the best record in NBA history last year with 73 wins and 9 losses without Durant. With the addition of Durant and the formation of the newest superteam, the Warriors may well break their own win-loss record.
Another noteworthy story is the potential breakout seasons from Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell and Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker. Russell has been an absolute monster in the preseason; with Kobe Bryant gone, Russell is poised for a breakout season as the go-to option for the Lakers. Last season, sharpshooter Booker took advantage of a decimated Suns backcourt to make a statement to the league as the young guard became just the 4th youngest player in NBA history to reach 1000 points. With a guaranteed starting spot in the upcoming season, Booker should excel under the Suns’ fast paced offense and is a prime candidate to see a breakout season.
There are also rising teams that fans should also focus on too. The Raptors are quickly quietly compared to the Cleveland Cavaliers but with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan leading the charge once again, they should be the primary challenger to the Cavaliers in the East. In the West, the Timberwolves have formed a young, high-flying, and exciting core of Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Dunn and Rubio in hopes of returning to the playoffs. Under Coach Tom Thibodeau’s strict discipline, the Timberwolves should be an entertaining team in the season, regardless of whether they will qualify for the playoffs or not.
This season is also the beginning of the post-Tim Duncan/Kobe Bryant/Kevin Garnett era. Three legends, three icons, three future Hall of Famers are now no longer in the league. The quiet perfection of Tim Duncan, the killer instinct of Kobe Bryant, and the hard-nosed trash talking intensity of Kevin Garnett will definitely be missed by basketball fans around the world.
Are you ready for a whole new season NBA fans? It’s going to be exciting!