By: Ron Williams
Will the new and improved Warriors dominate their way to another NBA Championship?
Sure, on paper, they look scary! The new additions of Cousins and Jerebko will for sure gives them two big men that can still stretch the floor. However, Cousins is still a primed post-player to add to the already back-to-back champion roster; while retaining Looney and McGaw. The Warriors were a team that got little or no production from their big men. Cousins by himself averaged more than McGee, Bell, Looney, and Jones with 25.2 PPG. Sure, he won’t be back until mid-season, however, this should add another dynamic weapon to the Warriors. Do, I really need to talk about KD, Curry, Klay, Green and the rest of the gang? Health looks like that can be the only thing prohibiting them from winning a ring. Draymond and Cousins as the anchors of the Warriors interior should be fun. Will they lead the NBA in techs next season? It's very possible.
Dwight to the Wizards! Rivers and Green too.
Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s Dwight Howard! Will Howard return to his Superman ego as we saw in the Orlando days. Matter of fact, he is looking to Morph into a hell of a weapon " The ADKD." Sure, Wall is a pass first point guard, but are we sure about that? Hopefully they got rid of their locker room woes by trading away Gortat and adding Austin Rivers. Don't forget about the hometown native in Jeff Green who looks to be a nice piece for their bench. They have a roster that can match up with just about any team in the East, and West. Will they consistently play as a unit is the question. Is it me, or does this team always seem as if they have internal beef? Gilbert and Jarvais. Wall and Gortat. Wall and Beal. What's wrong with Washington?
Trust the Process!
They had quite a successful offseason despite losing the LeBron, Kawhi and George sweepstakes. Let Joel tell it, he didn't want any of those guys anyways. He wants to beat them; good luck. Chandler, will give them the defense they need. Muscala, is a decent backup big man that also has some good and not so good defensive days. What is really up with Fultz's shot? Has it gotten better? Reddick was a key player that they resigned this offseason. Unfortunate for Smith, he could have done some great things with this team, being that they need wing athleticism. Do they have what it takes, led by Joel and Simmons, to come out of the LeBronless East?
Boston not so loud! Or were they?
When you have a young and dynamic core, there wasn't much for them to do. Still, you have to believe that Ainge has something up his sleeves prior to the NBA deadline. Factor in Tatum and Brown, looking destined for at least All-star status in the NBA, and Scary Terry they can do what they want with Kyrie, if they feel he wont stay pact. Adding a healthy Kyrie and Hayward and this team looks like a Celtic team of old, when they were deep and scary. Even though they only just resigned Smart, the Celtics may be poised to run through the East, with the development of their young assets. As a matter of fact, they did get a late round draft steal in Williams. If he doesn't miss practice, this kid could possibly make a lot of teams upset for not picking him.
Home sweet home, Jabari!
The young Bulls may be on the rise this year. With LeBron out of the east, there are at least 3 open playoff spots, and they could possibly get one of them. Okay, maybe I am pushing it, however, there is that slight chance. Let's just say they hit a home run inn (haha) and Jabari shows no sign of that knee giving him a problem anymore, and he manages to give them 20+ ppg. Lavine, whom they may have overpaid to keep, no longer has that scoring load on his shoulders. However, with that being said, maybe he still manages 18 ppg. They got a great pick with Carter Jr. Pairing him with LM, and the Bulls may have one of the best young core with least playoff experience. Well, then there is Dunn. Please no more swinging on the rim. Trade away Lopez to make room for Portis. Why did they give Felicio that contract again? Freddie, let's coach these boys to the playoffs, please!!!!
LABronnywood! The Lakeshow is back!
Although George didn't follow suit on what he said, and Kwahi now being a Raptor, the Lakers got their Man! LeBron, is a special type of player, will have the Lakers fighting for the Western Conference Finals. He is practically two All-stars. Factor in the Lakers 108ppg last season. At 25.5 years old, expect the young legs of: Ball, Hart, Ingram, Kuzma to lead the fast break attack. With Rondo and Lance, also being able to push the rock, the Lakers may average tons of assist this upcoming year. Somebody still needs to be consistent besides LeBron on a nightly basis for them to contend. B-Eazy, to the rescue? Is that so? Javale, get that out of here, McGee getting all the easy buckets. LeBron MVP. Ingram MIP. Kuzma 6th man.
Fear the Deer!
Signing Lopez may be one of the under radar moves this entire off-season. Bledsoe, Middleton, Greek, IIyasova and Lopez may be the scariest lineup in the eastern conference. They only just surround The Freak with tons of shooting, so now he can just drive as he wishes. Looks like Cleveland all over again. Thanks for leaving LeBron. This team should really benefit from his departure. Bringing in, Snell, Brogdon, DiVicenzo, and Maker off the bench adds more shooting and defense. I see them making it deep in the playoffs. That is of course if all those boxing lessons panned out for Greek Freak this off-season. Man, you have to be more aggressive when the game is on the line.
Pacerland is in full effect!
As if we needed any indication from their playoff series verses the Cavs, that they wouldn't be hungry, think again! Miles the yogaman Turner has re-transformed himself to be the man in the East. If they feature him more, watch out! We thought the George trade was a steal for OKC, Indy may have gotten the better hand. Sabonis, is his daddy's son. However, Ola-odopo (Jalen Rose voice), stop it, was on a tear. Adding Evans, will only allow him and Collinson to come off the ball more, while still being able to play with Evans. They still have the crafty vet in Young. Trading for McDermott alongside Bojan should add more shooting depth for the team. O'Quinn is a beast of a dude should Turner get in early foul trouble. Got depth? They may be the deepest team in the east.
Death of a Dynasty in Spurtown!
I can hear Boyz to Men's, "How do I say goodbye," playing throughout San Antonio. First Duncan. Then Parker. The young lad Kawhi wanted to reign elsewhere. Now Manu. We are witnessing the first time in 2 decades in which the Spurs dynasty will no longer be featured. Pop, and Bucker are what remain! Demar, is a good addition and they have some solid young pieces and veterans. Don't count them out. Still, this ain't yo Timmy's Spurs. Murray, the keys are yours young man. Let them know they're in good hands. Gasol, Aldridge and Gay are all getting older, still productive, it will be hard keeping up when teams pushing it. There probably was a better trade out there, they just opted otherwise. At 29, Demar is at that in between age, still on the upper part, has nice athleticism and an uncanny way of getting to the rim. All should benefit the Spurs as they build around him and Murray.
Anything you can do I can do better! Ayton vs Luka ROY
The #1 and #3 picks of the draft will be a must see each night. The fact that they will face each other 3 times is enough in its own right. Phoenix will be a nice team as they had a nice draft while building around their current core Dallas with the addition of Jordan will have that big they've almost had but got to catch lobs and protect the rim. Harrison Barnes, we need some more buckets. You got it in you. Dirk, probably should have been gone. While not eat free money? Depending on their numbers, the two of the Rooks will be in contention to win the ROY award. Being that both are in the western conference, it makes it more intriguing. The both of them will be facing the same competition on a nightly basis, so their can't be an east coast vs west coast issue. The west will be locked and loaded, so we will get the chance to see them showcase their skill. Or will they allow another Rookie come in and take it from under their noises?
Jimmy and the Minnesota Blues!
Why didn't Butler sign that extension? Should they look into trading him? Wiggins and Towns are already set as they signed their extensions. It should be a hot scene all year, especially if they aren't winning ball games. Please start Rose! The Wolves didn't get worse but they didn't get better either. Thibs will have an interesting tasks ahand. Is his job secure? Another early playoff exit and who knows what happens with this team. If they come out and play, they have the right pieces to make some noise. They just have to set all madness aside and go out there and ball.
OKC just loves to experiment!
Dennis may serve as a great backup, however, how long is he willing enough to take on the 6th man role? While it looks good, Russ is yet to relinquish some of the ball-handling duties. I see this working, if Russ is opened to being featured off-ball more to. Please pass. A Russ with a score, penetrate and demolish first mindset will cause chaos. By keeping PG13, that gives them added power and support; just stay ready. While also retaining Grant, whom has defensive prowess and leaping ability as a solid forward. Noel is an athletic big, that will serve as a good backup if he see's minutes and is healthy. With his defensive and rebounding abilities, this will help a Thunder team that is in need of resurgence once Steve Adams sits down for a breather. Their bench will still need to step up nightly in order for them to be in championship contention.
Drake, Lowry welcomes Kawhi to Toronto!
With an exit from San An from Leonard, not to his hometown Lakers, to the North, with his fellow Danny Green. If Lowry does something that's mind blowing, they may have a legit chance to make the Finals. Their bench is still strong, and just got more experience. They should still be able to provide balance to the team once the starters sit down. Not to mention, a LeBron exit. He's been dominating them for years. Unfortunately it was a shaky exit for DeMar, from the Raptors. Leonard definitely provides a defensive and offensive upside to the team, some have him as a top 3 player in the league. Will that be enough for Kawhi to stay there after this season? In due time!
Who Wins the East?
With LeBron taking flight out West and joining the Los Angeles Lakers, the East will feature a new King of the conference. Not for 8 years straight of course, well, we never know. However, LeBron's departure will open doors for those teams that didn't feature a superstar or couldn't get over the hump. With the addition of Kwahi, could we see Toronto in the finals? The Celtics seem stocked, loaded and primed for a hell of a run. With a healthy Kyrie and Hayward set to return. With the emergence of Brown and Tatum. The complementary pieces around them. This team can possibly stand toe to toe with any team in the West. Then there is always the Ainge affect. What will he do? Does Greek lead the Bucks to the promise land? Will he channel his inner greatness and put his foot on the East's neck? Teams like the Bulls and Hornets could possibly sneak into the playoffs; I don't see a deep playoff run. Philly's new additions, seem to have them more athletic and defensive oriented; at least on paper. Will Fultz be next year's Ben Simmons? Will a dark horse like New York emerge and surprise a few team?
Who wins the West?
Will the Warriors sweep through the playoffs and 3-peat? Sure, it looks like it'll be a hell of a tall order to beat them. Only injury seems to be their reaper. Looks like the Lakeshow is back. Are the ahead or behind schedule though? How high will they climb in the seeding? How far will they go in the playoffs? LeBron even at 33, he still has enough in his tank to have the Lakers in contention, even in the loaded West. Will teams like, Portland, San Antnio, NOP, OKC, HOU take a step back in seeding? The Spurs seems to be in an unfamiliar place. NOP, has lost a step with Boogie's departure, however, picked up good talent in Okafor and Julius. Houston while adding Melo and retaining Clint, they lost two contributors on defense in Ariza and Luc. Factor in age, and a lack of depth, and they may be gased by the end of the season. Don Mitch and the Jazz doesn't look like they will be taken for granted. However, Thomas addition in Denver and a healthy Milsap and Jokic, and they should be primed for a run in the playoffs as well. With a lack of lenght on the wing's they may have issues on defense. Portland, may be on the decline. They haven't gotten any worse. However, they haven't gotten any better. While Dame and CJ serves as a great backcourt, the rest of the roster doesn't seem to compliment them. Looks like a trade brewing before the deadline.
Battle of Los Angeles!
Will it be the Lakers? Or will it be the Clippers? The team the Kwahi, if he decides to flee Toronto, joins via free agency. Sure there is always the chance of bringing the first title to Clipperland. Then there is always wasting the glow of your career there. Then there is the opportunity to add to an appealing legacy and become a legend of your own sense. Will there be two stars on both teams next season? What if the Lakers add a Butler. While the Clippers add Kwahi and Kyrie. Or what it the Clippers add Kyrie and Butler. While the Lakers add Kwahi to join LeBron. Expect things to heat up from both organizations around trade deadline. I still see Dame on the block as Portland will be facing difficulties in the West going forward.
Teams on the rise....
Here are my two teams that seems to be on the bottom making their way up to the top. I don't want to say they will be in any final witin the next few years or so, however, I can see a playoff appearance for both of them within that timeframe. Both teams lead the wave of having a nice young core of talent, with expendable pieces, that seem to be geared towards being all-stars.
Phoenix - Booker, Ayton, Jackson, Bridges, and Warren
Chicago - Parker (if healthy), Lavine (if healthy), Markkanen, and Carter Jr.
These are the teams that still have some more growing pains to experience over the next couple of years, to be primed for playoff contention and appearances. They can plan via draft and build a nice young core, while moving pieces that doesn't fit within their plans. Maybe a pick or signing away from being back to their old form.
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