By Steven Rowland
Well it’s that time of year again! The NBA is back!! Thank goodness, because let’s face it, no one really cares that the Cubs are in the World Series, and we all know the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl. I’m not going to give you a typical “NBA 2016-2017 Preview,” one, because I don’t want to and two, because you can find a million on the Internet. I’ll save you the time; they are predicting the Warriors in seven over the Cavs. Instead, let’s answer some of the leagues biggest questions surrounding this season.
Let’s Start out West
Will Golden State have enough shots to go around?
The answer to me is simple. YES. Harrison Barnes averaged just under ten shot attempts a game last season, so let’s just assume ALL of those go to Kevin Durant. I saw Steph Curry force at least 5-6 shots a game, so let’s give half of those to Durant this season. Now we only need six more attempts for KD to match his 19 attempts per game in Oklahoma City last year. I don’t see the issue and why it has been talked about so much this summer.
Are the Spurs still a threat in the West?
To be honest, it’s hard to see anyone beating the Warriors in a seven game series. With that being said, yes, the Spurs are still a threat. They are one of the few teams in the West that actually got BETTER this off-season and I wouldn’t be shocked if this team was representing the Western Conference in June. Replacing Tim Duncan with Pau Gasol in my eyes is a huge upgrade. I also like the David Lee signing to spell minutes from LaMarcus Aldridge and Gasol, keeping them as fresh as possible down the stretch. Rumor has it, Danny Green got his vision back (LASIK really is amazing), that should fix his putrid shooting percentage from last season. Oh, and they have that guy Kawhi Leonard, he should be pretty good and, in my opinion, should actually win some 1st place MVP votes this year.
Surprise team in the West?
The Utah Jazz, who missed the playoffs last year by one game. Sure, saying they make the playoffs isn’t much of a surprise, but I think they are closer to the 4th seed than they are to the 8th seed. SURPRISE! Gordon Hayward is expected to miss the first couple of weeks this season, but this team is extremely deep and if they can weather the initial storm, the Northwest Division may be up for grabs late in the season. I also like the Minnesota Timberwolves to make a playoff push. That team is full of athletes and you know coach Thibodeau will make sure that defense is in the top tier of the NBA.
On to the East..
I have to talk about the Orlando Magic, for me… And the Philadelphia 76ers, or the boss will kill me.
The Orlando Magic fired their coach, traded their best player and their 2016 first round pick. Personally, I love the direction the Orlando Magic are going. Frank Vogel is a SUPERSTAR signing for this team and adding in a veteran Serge Ibaka should do wonders on and off the court for this team. I am one of the few who like the Bismack Biyombo signing as well. Sure, there are more questions to be answered. How will Vogel split the front court minutes between Ibaka, Bismack, Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon? Who’s going to score the ball consistently for this team? I trust Frank. For now.
The 76ers are still a year or two out. With that being said, this team should be relevant for a long time, as they have hit home runs in the draft the last few years. Sure, that isn’t hard when you’re picking in the top five each year. In the words of Joel Embiid, “Trust the process.” Ok, that’s enough. You’re welcome Eric Evans.
Are the Knicks going to contend the East?
This is the most talked about roster in basketball, which is stunning since the best team in the West added a top five player in the NBA. In my opinion, this is going to be another disaster season for the Knicks. I’m sorry this is not a super-team. This a makeshift last-ditch effort by Phil Jackson before he has to blow the entire thing up. The Knicks are counting on five players to stay healthy for 82 games, plus playoffs, who have NEVER been able to stay healthy. Could it happen? Sure, but if I were a betting man, (Gina & Terri I promise I’m retired) I’d be all over this team failing, miserably. This is an expensive dumpster fire just waiting to ignite.
The easiest Q&A in sports, are the Cavs going back to the Finals?
Surprise team in the East?
This almost seems like a joke, because until LeBron James retires or moves out West, this conference has no parody. With that being said, I’ll throw a few darts out there.
The ENTIRE Central division makes the playoffs (Cavs, Pacers, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks).
I guess that makes my “surprise team” in the East is the Milwaukee Bucks’. If you know me, you know this isn’t a surprise. Giannis Antetokounmpo is my favorite player in the league and this team is going to be the most fun to watch in the East. Unless you like a total disaster, then I’m sure the Knicks are the team for you.
MVP: Kawhi Leonard
ROY: Kris Dunn (Dark horse: Jamal Murray)
NBA Champs: San Antonio Spurs