Kings of the court
A look ahead at this year’s NBA season
By Bigoa Machar, Publishing Editor
While it may seem like yesterday when Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 series lead against the Lebron James led Cleveland Cavaliers, ending the city’s championship drought spanning all the way back to 1964, a brand spankin’ new NBA season is upon us with a new set of storylines and questions. Will the Cavs repeat? Will Kevin Durant thrive with the Warriors? Whose good enough to knock one of these two teams off the podium? Well, let’s take a look at some storylines from each division and who will win what in the Association this season.
Let’s start right here at home, shall we? #WeTheNorth season is now in full affect, with the Raptors looking like the early favourites to win the division yet again. Starting backcourt and the #CoupleGoals role models DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry look as good as ever, with Lithuanian mammoth Jonas Valanciunas finding his strengths in the post and on defense. Factor in new starting Centre Jared Sullinger and a young bench squad; the Raptors are primed to challenge the Cavs for best team in the east.
The Raptors aren’t the only team in the Atlantic coming in with a lot of hype. With new faces like Al Horford on the Celtics, Derrick Rose on the Knicks and Jeremy Lin on the Nets, the Atlantic won’t be the most competitive division, but definitely one of the most interesting to watch.
Nope, I refuse to believe that Dwyane Wade is wearing something other than his classic #3 Miami Heat jersey this season. There is no Miami Heat without Dwyane Wade. Everybody needs to go home now, which is exactly what centre Dwight Howard did after he signed with his hometown Atlanta Hawks this summer. Replacing the aforementioned Horford, Howard will look for a fresh start after two disastrous campaigns in Los Angeles and Houston. Howard will be surrounded by more talent than the mass of his two astronomically large shoulders put together. Seriously, look them up. He should need a permit to carry around those weapons of mass destruction.
Speaking of big shoulders, Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker might need to work his out for all the carrying he’ll have to do for his team this year. After the departures of both Al Jefferson and Jeremy Lin, Walker is undoubtedly the best player on tis team and it’ll be up to him if he can be the face of Michael Jordan’s team or donne Jordan’s face in the crying meme fashion.
Much like the Southeast, the Central division will consist of a bunch of other teams fighting for second best to the Cavaliers. The new look Bulls, featuring a new backcourt of Dwyane Wade (gags) and Rajon Rondo already joining All-Star Jimmy Butler, will look to make noise in the eastern conference. The only thing they have to worry about is their poor outside shooting, which rivals that of the poorly trained lovechild of a Stormtrooper and a James Bond evil henchman.
The Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons are also interesting teams to keep an eye on. The Pacers hope that Paul George will get the help he needs to make some noise in the playoffs. Forward, and Rae Sremmurd stunt double, Myles Turner is primed for a big year and veterans Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson will look to be the above-average players the Pacers need them to be. The Pistons are a tricky team, all because we don’t know how good their supporting cast is. Beyond Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, players by likes of guard, and best name in the league, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tobias Harris will have to play really well to bring the Pistons into the Promise Land. I expect the Central division to send four teams to the playoffs.
Picture this. It’s 10:30 p.m. The New Orleans Pelicans have just lost their sixth game in a row, this one by 40 points. Anthony Davis sits alone in the locker room with Drake’s Marvin’s Room playing softly. He grips a framed picture of his NCAA-winning Kentucky Wildcats team. “Where did I go wrong?” he whispers into the picture before a single tear runs down his cheek.
Look, this may not be exactly what happens, but let’s be real. The Pelicans are terrible, but they’re worth watching for Davis and Davis alone. There’s not much to say about his division. The San Antonio Spurs are gonna win 65 games and rest their starters in March. James Harden is going to score a billion points for the Houston rockets for Mike D’antoni and the Memphis Grizzlies are gonna be good enough to squeak into the 8th seed.
THE WARRIORS BLEW A 3-1 LEAD IN THE FINALS. Okay now that I have your attention, this division is going to be a mess. Spoiler alert, Golden State is going to cruise to the finish line, with dual-MVP threat Steph Curry and Kevin Durant prepared to shit on the rest of the league. Sacramento, Phoenix and the Lakers will all win under 40 games this year, so expect only the Warriors and Clippers to make the playoffs here.
We finally have a competitive division in the West! Everyone celebrate! Coming off a fantastic statistical year and one of the hottest rap albums of 2016, Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard will look to cement himself as a top-5 point guard in the league. Trying to stop him is OKC Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who will look to carry the Durant-less Thunder to the playoffs. With many considering Westbrook as the early MVP favourite, Westbrook will hope to deliver on the court as much as he kills it in the fashion game.
In addition to these two teams, many experts are predicting the Utah Jazz to make some noise this year. With the return of Aussie phenom Dante Exum from a torn ACL and the continued development of youngsters Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz will look to build on the limited success they had last year. When they were all healthy, the Jazz had one of the best statistical starting lineups in basketball, and I’m excited to see what the Jazz will do this season.