The NBA is back and this season will not even be close to what we saw last year. The offseason has been a crazy one with the retirements of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett.
Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah joined the Knicks, Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade signed with the Bulls, and 2014 League MVP Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors. What does this new super-team for the Warriors mean for the rest of the league?
In the Eastern conference, The Cleveland Cavaliers’ have a very dominant roster including LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. They also retained almost every player from their championship lineup last year.
The Boston Celtics have a constantly improving Isaiah Thomas, star center Al Horford, and up-and-coming shooting guard and third overall pick in the draft Jaylen Brown to bolster their roster.
If there’s one team that can hold Boston back, it is the Toronto Raptors. Even though they lost Luis Scola and Bismack Biyombo in free agency, the team has a very strong roster including Olympians DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. They almost won the Conference a Championship last year and could take it all the way this year.
Two teams to watch are the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls. The Knicks recently signed 2014 Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah and 2011 MVP Derrick Rose, both who are leaving the Bulls. The Bulls received Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon, and Jerian Grant from the Knicks. These exchanges of players might reignite the Knicks-Bulls rivalry of the early 90’s.
The Western Conference is going to be battled out for by the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Golden State Warriors. On the Warriors, two-time MVP Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson will be joined by 2014 MVP Kevin Durant. Looking at the way they lost to the Spurs and Lakers, this team could turn out to be a sum of its parts.
The Oklahoma City Thunder still has a very strong lineup without Durant, consisting of Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, and Stephen Adams, among others. They were a game away from entering the Finals last year and it’s possible that they could take it a step further.
The San Antonio Spurs are going to be very strong contenders this year. Their roster is already very powerful with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. The recent signing of Pau Gasol will only bolster their roster even more.
The Rookie of the Year race is not too tough to predict. Ben Simmons, who was picked first overall in the draft by the 76ers, was a definite pick for the title until a foot fracture derailed his campaign. Because of this, the ROTY will likely be Kris Dunn of the Minnesota Timberwolves or Brandon Ingram of the Los Angeles Lakers. Both players were stars in college and look primed and ready for long careers in the NBA.
My top 5 picks for the MVP race are Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and Steph Curry. Westbrook has been given the responsibility to carry this Thunder lineup to the finals. In this process, his performance is going to shoot up in terms of quality.
James and Curry are likely to continue being the dominant presences based on what we saw during the Finals. Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard are going to improve hugely from last season, proving it with exceptional performances at the start of the season.
The NBA is such an unpredictable league. Therefore, none of these predictions can be set in stone. However, what we know for sure is that this season is going to be an exciting one for all basketball fans.