The 2016-17 NBA season kicks off tonight, and thank god it’s back because the NFL is producing an awful product, and hockey just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t think it does it for a lot of other people either, just look at the ratings. We have plenty to look forward to with old faces in new places, rookies looking to make a name for themselves, and Russell Westbrook trying to dominate the league. We said goodbye to the likes of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett. Did anyone else know that Landry Fields retired? If I mentioned the name Sasha Kaun, would you know who that is? He spends one year in the league and wins a title with the Cavs, and is one of the few to win an NBA championship, and an NCAA championship (2008 with Kansas).
All the buzz in the NBA this summer surrounded the recruitment of Kevin Durant and his signing with the Golden State Warriors. Pump the brakes on the championship talk. They still have to get through the reigning champs, and have to make it out of the Western Conference. Nothing would bring greater joy then a first round match up against the OKC Thunder. Will the Warriors most likely make it to their third straight NBA Finals? Yes. Will it take time for them to gel? Probably not. KD already balled out with Klay and Draymond at the Olympics and Steph is one of the most unselfish guards in the league. Don’t be surprised if this squad wins more than 73 games.
That is one old face in a new place. What about Dwyane Wade leaving South Beach for his home state of Illinois? Who is going to run the point in Chicago? Wade, Jimmy Butler, or Rondo? Things could get ugly before they get good. One of the most under the radar free agent signings had to be Al Horford going to the Celtics. This is an excellent pickup by Danny Ainge. With his ability to shoot elbow jumpers and have Kelly Olynyk or Tyler Zeller play down low, this team could compete for the East. Dwight Howard also returns home to the Atlanta Hawks where he will make $75 million over three years. Not bad for one of the most overrated players in the game. Another big name on the move was Pau Gasol, stepping in and trying to replace Tim Duncan’s shoes. With a game similar to Timmay’s, Pau should fit in just well with Pops and the gang. Last one on the docket is Harrison Barnes to the Mavericks. I hope he found his game after the Olympics because he was just brutal sitting on the end of the bench in Rio.
With the retirement of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James getting a little bit older and chasing rings, and Kevin Durant joining a super super team, it is time for Russell Westbrook to get his and take over the damn league. I always thought it was Russ holding Durant and the Thunder back, taking bad shots, and being over aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. Now he ca do whatever he wants and get away with it. If that means putting up 50 shots a game, so be it. Billy Donovan enters his second season at the helm and the second best player on the roster is Steven Adams. You better believe Russell is going to get his. I am excited to watch. I can’t wait for him to cock one back and put his nuts in someones face.
In the East, everything goes through Cleveland. As long as LeBron is there, they will always be considered the top dog. With the resigning of JR Smith, this team won’t lose a beat. Look for Kyrie to take his game to another level as LBJ saves some fuel for the playoffs. The Raptors were oh so close, but when your superstars go silent in the biggest games, you are bound to lose. Demar made the decision to return to Toronto. Don’t be surprised when his backcourt mate leaves next offseason when free agency begins. The Celtics are on the cusp of competing in the East and as mentioned earlier, the addition of Al Horford will help tremendously. Watch out for rookie Jaylen Brown to make an impact off the bench. The Knickerbockers added Derrick Rose to their roster, and if everyone can stay healthy, not only will this team be fun to watch, but they might just be able to compete for a top 4 seed in the East. Check out our Knicks preview right here.
One team I am always high on at the beginning of the season is the Milwaukee Bucks. So much young talent for Jason Kidd. With Giannis Antetokounmpo running the point, he should be must watch whenever the Bucks are on. Don’t forget the addition of Mr Grit himself in Matthew Dellavedova, the draft pick of Thon Maker, and third year player Jabari Parker. As mentioned above, SO much young talent. Hassan Whiteside is now the face of the Miami Heat with Wade gone. Look for second year player Justice Winslow to step up with the departure of Wade. Is this team a playoff team? Ehhhhhh. The Pistons are the Pistons, the Nets sucks, and the 76ers may still be trying to trust the process. It will be nice to finally watch Embiid play.
Like the East, the West will run through Golden State. It will be interesting to see how Steve Kerr uses this roster. Will he give his guys off more nights due to the depth of his roster? Be on the lookout for blowouts with this team. If you really look at the Western Conference, who is going to compete with the Warriors? The Spurs are not getting any younger, the Clippers just can’t see to ever figure it out in the playoffs, and the Grizzlies are overrated, and also stupid for giving Mike Conley a 5 year, $153 million dollar deal. For the Spurs, this franchise now rests on the shoulders of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. For the Clippers, what have they done to get them over the edge. You bring in Raymond Felton? Good luck. It sucks because this is my squad out west with their ties to Buffalo during the 70’s. The Grizzlies offense never gets it done, and bringing in just Chandler Parsons will not help. This is a boring team with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
Can Anthony Davis stay healthy for a full season? If so, he might be a top 5 player in the NBA. Also, the Pelicans might just be a playoff team. How much does Dirk have left in the tank? We will find out. Mark Cuban is not as much fun as he used to be when the Mavericks were good. For the Rockets, it is all about James Harden, although watch out for Clint Capela. He could be a fantasy sleeper with the departure of Dwight Howard and the up and down system Mike d’Antoni specializes in. Damian Lillard think he is going to win the MVP. BREAKING NEWS, he will not. That award will go to Russell Westbrook who may just go and average a triple double this season. DeMarcus Cousins finally has a coach in Sacramento with Dave Joerger. Will Boogie buy into the system? We can only hope so, or it will just be another year of wasted talent. The only reason to watch the Lakers will be to watch rookie Brandon Ingram, and if there is still any beef between D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young.
The Cavaliers will repeat as champions. Russell Westbrook will win the MVP and scoring title. Brandon Ingram will win ROY award, and Brad Stevens will earn his first of many coach of the year awards.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know @bwolf_17