The Kirkwood Call

NBA season preview

Brendan Davidson, parsnip editor

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The NBA 2018-19 season started Oct. 16 and you should be hyped. Last year, the Warriors and Rockets were the main story of the relatively incompetent NBA. Due to the wild offseason, this year’s standings will definitely look different.

 

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Teams to Watch in the West

 

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors’ superteam has a great shot at winning their fourth championship in five years and earning the sixth three-peat in NBA history. Their starting lineup is practically an All-Star team with their addition of Demarcus Cousins, providing post presence the champions previously lacked. Each player on the Warriors starting lineup is capable of becoming the base of a franchise.

 

Houston Rockets

The Rockets will have to battle the Warriors for control over the West after the championship slipped from their fingers when they barely lost in Game 7 of the Western Conference championships after point guard Chris Paul’s injury two games prior. Their addition of Carmelo Anthony will change their team dynamic and possibly give the Rockets the edge they need. 

 

Utah Jazz

Rudy Gobert led the well-rounded Jazz to a fifth seed in the playoff after a 29-6 run to finish the season. While the Jazz owns few large contracts, they have a strong team centered around 22-year-old guard Donovan Mitchell. They have enough talent to win at least one round or more in the playoffs.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers completely uprooted their previously poor 35-47 team. Lebron James’ arrival opened the floodgate of changes to provide a mix of young and old talent that will take time to gel and execute. When they do, however, they will fully transform from a recent embarrassment of the Lakers’ organization into playoff contenders in the first season after their overhaul.

 

Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard will lead his small-name team, which includes guys like shooting guard CJ McCollum and center Jusuf Nurkic. Seth Curry and Evan Turner add depth to an well-rounded team who will enter the playoffs in the middle of the pack in the West.

 

Teams to Watch in the East

 

Boston Celtics

The Celtics have the best team in the East with young players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum learning from veterans like Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. The recovered Gordon Hayward rounds out their starting lineup, and with their great depth, the Celtics will get at least to the Eastern Conference Finals and have a shot at overpowering a team from the west for the title.

 

Philadelphia 76ers

“Trust the process” was the 76ers’ slogan as the team remained terrible for many of the recent years. However, their draft picks from numerous awful seasons of are finally panning out, with young starters such as guard Ben Simmons and center Joel Embiid will lead this team for a long time. However, they are slightly too young for serious title considerations, and so I think they will make it to the second round of the playoffs and possibly the Eastern conference finals.

 

Toronto Raptors

Last year, the Raptors fell like a house of cards to Lebron James and the other Cavaliers. Now, the number one seed replaced Demar DeRozan with Kawhi Leonard. Even with a slightly improved team and without Lebron in the East, the Raptors still will not be able to get out of their conference.

 

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers are a middle-of-the-road team. For the East, this means they are in the top half or third of their conference. Beyond young shooting guard Victor Oladipo, their depth of decent talent will allow them to get into the playoffs.

 

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are a bit of a wild card this year. The Bucks have incredible talent in rising star Giannis Antetokounmpo and new head coach Mike Budenholzer. He will provide new pace and life to a previously slow, static Bucks offense that relied on Antetokounmpo’s production to score. Now, since the team has otherwise solid players who will be used effectively, the Bucks have a chance to do damage in the weaker Eastern Conference.

 

The NBA offseason

 

During the summer, the NBA offseason often stole the show from the slow-paced Major League Baseball (MLB) season. Here are some of the major offseason signings and trades teams made.

 

  • Demar DeRozan was traded to the San Antonio Spurs and has three seasons left on his five year, $139 million deal.
  • Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors with three seasons and $83 million left on his contract with an opt-out option in the 2020-21 season.
  • Austin Rivers was traded to the Washington Wizards with one season and $12 million left on his contract.
  • Marcin Gortat was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers with one season and $13.5 million left on his contract.
  • Lebron James, Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo JaVale McGee and more signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • Demarcus Cousins signed with the Golden State Warriors on a one year, $5.3 million deal.
  • Carmelo Anthony signed with the Houston Rockets for one year and $2.4 million.
  • Tyreke Evans signed with the Indiana Pacers for one year and $12.4 million.
  • Seth Curry signed with the Portland Trail Blazers on a two year, $5.6 million contract.
  • Isaiah Thomas signed with the Denver Nuggets for the veteran minimum- one year, $2 million.
  • Dwight Howard signed with the Washington Wizards for two years, $11 million.
  • DeAndre Jordan signed with the Dallas Mavericks for one year, $24 million.
  • Tyreke Evans signed with the Indiana Pacers for one year, $12 million.
  • The ancient Vince Carter signed with the Atlanta Hawks for one year, $2.4 million.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope re-signed with the Lakers for one year, $12 million.
  • Chris Paul re-signed with the Houston Rockets for four years, $160 million.
  • Dirk Nowitzki re-signed with the Dallas Mavericks for one year, $5 million.
  • Kevin Love re-signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers for four years, $120 million.
  • Kevin Durant re-signed with the Warriors for two years, $61 million.
  • Dwayne Wade re-signed with the Miami Heat for one year, $2.4 million.
  • Derrick Rose re-signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves for one year, $2.4 million.
  • Aaron Gordon re-signed with the Orlando Magic for four years, $84 million.
  • Devin Booker re-signed with the Phoenix Suns for five years, $158 million.

 

Potential Most Valuable Players to watch

 

Lebron James

James has been easily the best player in the NBA over the last ten years. Even though he is undoubtedly one of the best players of all time, Lebron will not win the MVP award this year. But the MVP is not what Lebron aims for. He wants championships that will prove his status as the GOAT. He has his strongest supporting cast yet to take on the stars and powerhouses in the West.

 

Kevin Durant

Durant’s style mirrors Michael Jordan in multiple ways. They are both tall and lanky, and Durant is an effective defender while being clutch in his mid range shooting. Durant might not be the greatest player of all time, but he is still a spectacular player to watch every year.

 

Steph Curry

The “chef” is an incredible player to watch. His handles and dead-eye three-point shooting is paving the way for the NBA to shift to a more three-point-focused league. He sets records every year with high three-point percentages and the best free throw percentage in the NBA.

 

Demarcus Cousins

Cousins’ dynamic with Warriors, who won the Finals three of the last four season, will be interesting (after he comes back from his injury.) He has never played for an excellent team, moving away from the Sacramento Kings after his first six seasons to the Pelicans for the last two seasons. Cousins adds size, the one arguable flaw the Warriors had, to the lineup as he will build off his 25.2 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game last year.

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The “Greek Freak” is the only player in the NBA (besides Lebron James) who can play well in any role on the floor. He is changing the NBA with his versatility and hopefully, his new offense will help him get to the playoffs again.

 

Anthony Davis

Finishing third in the MVP voting last year, the big man is a quiet candidate. If he continues to bring the unremarkable Pelicans together and make a playoff run, he’ll have some chance at an MVP award. At some point, he will have an MVP-caliber season. It’s just a matter of when.

 

James Harden

The most recent MVP winner will continue his offensive dominance. If he would ever make real defensive contributions and lead the Rockets deep in the playoffs again, the MVP award would be his.

 

Russell Westbrook

The 2016-17 MVP winner has an improved team with the resigning of Paul George, the trade of Carmelo Anthony and additions in the backcourt. Westbrook has the potential to develop efficiency to become a Lebron-like player who can dominate the game but knows how to step back and make his teammates better.

 

Those who didn’t make the list:

Kawhi Leonard, who was hurt most of last season.

Joel Embiid, who needs a strong supporting cast to make the 76ers good in the NBA, not just the East.

Damian Lillard, who needs to assist and rebound more to round out his individual offensive potency.

 

After an eventful offseason, the NBA will facilitate another successful season as stars and superteams gear up for the season-long brawl to come out on top.

About the Writer
Brendan Davidson, copy editor

Interests: Chilling, playing golf, and procrastinating
Favorite quote: “In the end they’ll judge me anyway, so whatever.” – Kid Cudi
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