2017-2018 NBA Season Preview
Finally. The NBA season is back, and we're in for a hell of a season. Man, I don't think I've been this excited for the start of a new season since LeBron's first year in Miami, and there's a good reason for that. The league looks completely different. This offseason has been the most exciting offseason since I've started covering basketball, and one man was the highlight.
Yes, Kyrie Irving is a Boston Celtic. He wanted out of Cleveland and winded up in Boston, a move that sent shockwaves throughout the NBA. Irving was just one of the many moves made by teams this offseason.
NBA Offseason Moves
The Boston Celtics signed Gordon Hayward to pair with the new acquisition of Kyrie Irving.
The Cavaliers bolstered their roster because of the Irving trade. They received Isiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Brooklyn's 2018 first round pick.
The Cavaliers weren't done there. They signed Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose to both extremely cheap deals, which I think are the steals of the offseason.
The OKC Thunder had the best offseason in the entire association. They acquired a top 10 player in Paul George and a top 30 player in Carmelo Anthony for pretty much free. That's how lopsided of a trade it was.
Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets, forming arguably the NBA's best backcourt.
Jimmy Butler reunited with his old coach, Tom Thibodeau, in Minnesota.
Rudy Gay signed with the San Antonio Spurs.
Dwight Howard now plays for Michael Jordan as he is now a Charlotte Hornet.
D'Angelo Russell is now the face of the Brooklyn Nets after his trade from the Lakers.
Paul Milsap is no longer an Atlanta Hawk. He signed with the Denver Nuggets in July.
All these moves have created numerous storylines to follow throughout the season.
Can anyone in the West dethrone the Warriors?
Golden State has the entire league in shambles. They are the reason for the flurry of moves. They ran through the Western Conference in the playoffs last year, not losing a single game until the NBA Finals. The Western conference responded by building three new superteams of their own, but will it be enough?
Can the Cavaliers beat Golden State?
I know this might sound crazy, but the Cavaliers lost Kyrie and got better. They got pretty much a smaller version of Kyrie in IT. They received one of the best perimeter defenders in the league in Jae Crowder, and they bolstered their backcourt with the additions of Wade and DRose. They're the best team in the East, that's not even a debate, but are they better than the Warriors? This is their deepest team yet, and I still don't know yet, but I can definitely say they're better than five games.
Can Kyrie lead his own team?
This is what he wanted. He wanted out of LeBron's shadow, and now he'll be his biggest rival in the East. He's unquestionably the star of the Celtics, but can he lead them to the Finals? We've seen Kyrie's track record without LeBron, and it's not very good. He's three years older and better, and now he has Brad Stevens as his coach, let's see if Kyrie can do it.
Can Westbrook step back?
Russell Westbrook is coming off an MVP season in which he had arguably the greatest statistical season in NBA history. He averaged a triple-double, and it was necessary for his team to win. He had to do everything last year or the Thunder didn't have a chance. That's not the case this year. He got two new All-Star teammates so that he doesn't have to shoulder all the responsibility. The question now is Westbrook willing to do that.
Rookie Of The Year
This might just be the next great NBA draft class. Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, and Dennis Smith Jr. are all looking like future stars and viable ROY candidates. The expectation is that Lonzo Ball will be the ROY. He was the MVP of Summer League, and he will have all the opportunity this season as the starting point guard for the Lakers, but he will not be Rookie Of The Year. Lonzo is not even the best rookie on his team. The Rookie Of The Year will be Kyle Kuzma. He was the MVP of the Summer League Finals after dropping 30 in the championship. He averaged 21 through the Summer League, and he averaged 21 again during the preseason only further proving he's NBA ready. Kuzma will replace Ingram in the starting line up by January, and during the second half of the season, he will cement his ROY bid.
Sixth Man Of The Year
Boomin' out of South Gwinnett like Lou Will! 6 Man like Lou Will! S/O to Drake for the bars, but yes Lou Williams is my choice for sixth man of the year. He finished second in voting last season to his teammate Eric Gordon, but this year the award will be his. He will have the green light with the Clippers to do precisely what he does best: Score in bunches. After Blake Griffin, the team doesn't have a solidified second option, and I think Williams will slide right into that role.
Coach Of The Year
A few coaches will have a chance to win this award this year. Steve Kerr will once again be in the conversation because the Warriors will dominate, but unless they win 74 games, I don't see him taking it. Coach Pop will be in the convo too, but I see the Spurs having a slight drop off. I think the COY will be Tom Thibodeau. With the addition of Jimmy Butler, the Wolves have a big three of their own with Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins already in tow. They will be one of the most improved teams in the NBA this season and will be a top 5 seed in the West.
Most Improved Player
This is one of the harder awards to predict. You have to find a player who you believe will take a significant leap in their game this season. I think that player will be Myles Turner. Turner averaged 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.3 assists in a limited starter role for the Pacers. Now with Paul George come, he should be their number one option. I see him averaging a near 20-10 double-double. If he can do that and the Pacers find themselves in the East playoff picture, the award is his.
Defensive Player Of The Year
DPOY is a three-man race this year. We got Kawhi Leonard, the former DPOY, we have Draymond Green, the reigning DPOY, and Rudy Gobert, the best defensive player in the league. I don't see Kawhi winning it this year because he'll have too much offensive responsibility to be as potent on that side of the ball, so it comes down to Green vs. Gobert. I will have to roll with Draymond Green to repeat as DPOY because he'll play on the best team in the league and Utah might not even make the playoffs. Maybe next season Gobert.
Most Valuable Player
This is going to be the most competitive MVP race in a while. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving will all be in the race, but almost all of them have something going against them. Unless Westbrook averages another triple-double, he won't repeat as MVP. KD and Curry will take votes away from each other and Kawhi won't even start the season healthy. This MVP race will come down to the James's, LeBron James vs. James Harden. Harden will be looking for his first MVP, something he very much deserves. LeBron will be looking for his fifth MVP, which will tie him for most all time. I will have to roll with LeBron snagging his fifth. He'll be in a perfect position. With Irving gone and Isiah Thomas out until at least Christmas, James will be forced to carry the bulk of the load, which in turn will bring his best statistical year since his Miami days.
1) Golden State Warriors 67-15
2) Oklahoma City Thunder 60-22
3) Houston Rockets 58-24
4) San Antonio Spurs 57-25
5) Minnesota Timberwolves 52-30
6) Portland Trailblazers 50-32
7) Denver Nuggets 48-34
8) Los Angeles Clippers 43-39
Western Conference Finals
Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder
I don't think anybody would want it any other way. OKC vs. Golden State. Big 4 vs. Big 3. And most importantly, Russell Westbrook vs. Kevin Durant with an NBA Finals berth on the line. Golden State is the better team and should win this series, but Westbrook will not go down without the fight of his life. He's going to give Golden State all they can handle by himself, not to mention Paul George and Melo backing him up. This series will be a beautiful series watch, tensions will run high, and don't be surprised when it gets a little physical. Golden State will pull out this series, but they're going to go through hell to do it.
Warriors in 6
1. Cleveland Cavaliers 62-20
2. Boston Celtics 55-27
3. Washington Wizards 50-32
4. Milwaukee Bucks 48-34
5. Toronto Raptors 46-36
6. Charlotte Hornets 41-41
7. Philadelphia 76ers 39-43
8. Indiana Pacers 38-44
Eastern Conference Finals
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics
It's only right we get to see LeBron vs. Kyrie after all the drama. It's kind of funny, before the trade I had Boston beating Cleveland in the East Finals only because I thought LeBron would try to avoid another finals loss by losing before he got there. But after the Kyrie trade, ain't no way in hell LeBron is going to allow that man to beat him. Cleveland is already the better team, and now they have some fuel to add to the fire. I'm sorry Kyrie, you're about to get embarrassed by the team you should've never left.
Cavaliers in Five
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors
It's getting repetitive ain't it? For the fourth straight year, We'll get Golden State vs. Cleveland. This year though, Cleveland will be much better prepared. The addition of Jae Crowder will allow LeBron the luxury of not guarding Durant, something that didn't work out well for him last year in the finals. They'll have Isiah Thomas back at full strength and the best version of Derrick Rose we've seen since the injuries. Oh, yeah they'll have Wade's championship experience to boot too. Regardless all of these factors and an MVP LeBron, the Warriors are still the better team, and sadly I see them still winning the finals. Cleveland will be able to push it to six, but Kevin Durant will make sure that's as far as they go, securing his second Finals MVP.
Warriors in Six
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