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Things to Watch for in the Upcoming NBA Season

The 2018-2019 NBA Season is underway and here are some things to look for this year.

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Things to Watch for in the Upcoming NBA Season

Joseph Frescott, Sports Editor

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The 2018-2019 NBA season kicked off on October 17th with an exciting night of basketball, creating storylines that will have NBA fans glued to their TVs this season. With the new look Lakers, defending champs in Golden State, and healthy Celtics and Sixers rosters that will be competing to take the Crown in the weak Eastern conference, this season promises to be entertaining.

You can’t talk about the upcoming NBA season without addressing the new look Lakers. This offseason, the greatest player in the world, LeBron James, was a free agent and could sign to any team in the league. On July 9th, he choose to take his talents to LA and join the historic Lakers franchise. Since the retirement of future HOF Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have been a below .500 team, not making the playoffs in the last 5 seasons. This is unheard of in Laker history, as they have been a consistent playoff contender since the merger. With the help of newly signed LeBron, and veterans Rajon Rondo and Javale McGee, the Lakers look to end that drought and get back in contention. This years Lakers are the biggest wildcard in the NBA, as the young core looks to grow and complement LeBron and it remains to be seen how deep of a run this group can make come postseason in the stacked Western conference (ESPN.com).  

For the past four seasons, the league has dominated by the Warriors, as no team has been able to challenge them since the signing of Kevin Durant two years ago, and the signing of top 3 center Demarcus Cousins shouldn’t make things any easier. However, this season, the West looks stronger than ever, with teams determined to take down the champs. Those potential teams that could dethrone the Warriors are the Rockets, Thunder, and the Pelicans. The Houston Rockets have retained the same core that got them to the conference finals last year, with the likes of 2017 MVP James Harden, and stars Chris Paul and Clint Capela. This group along with the help of newly signed Carmelo Anthony off the bench has a great chance to knock the Warriors off their throne with their run and gun offense.

Another team that could compete with the Warriors is the Thunder. After resigning Paul George this offseason, Westbrook and Co. are ready take the West by storm. With the Carmelo experiment not panning out, the Thunder are destined to make a run this year, as long as they can remain healthy. Finally, the Pelicans are the surprise team to watch for the Western Conference this season. After Demarcus Cousins back stabbed Anthony Davis and left for Golden State, the Pelicans seemed as if all hope was lost. However, Anthony Davis has been a force to start the year, reminding the league of his greatness with the help of fellow big Nikola Mirotic and guard Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans are a team that can challenge the top teams in the West and have the potential to make a run this season.

On the other side of the NBA landscape, the East looks to be wide open with the departure of LeBron to LA. Contenders back at full strength such as the Celtics, Raptors, and Sixers all have interesting story lines surrounding this year. In Boston, the Celtics were devastated with injuries last season, with newly acquired Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving who suffered season ending injuries. With the same roster that brought them to the Conference Finals, the Celtics are a scary team to watch out for this year and the favorite to make it to the Finals. The Celtics will not see an easy road to the Finals, as the Raptors with top 5 forward Kawhi Leonard are the biggest wildcard in the East. After the controversial trade for Kawhi, the Raptors have arguably one of the best teams that they have ever assembled in their history. Second year star Fred Van Vleet and veteran guard Kyle Lowry should contribute greatly off of Kawhi’s greatness on both ends of the court. This team has the potential defensively to stop and challenge any team in the league.

One team that you cannot forget about is the Philadelphia 76ers. All offseason big man Joel Embiid has been coming at every team in the league, believing that his Sixers can dominate this season and he has a reason to believe they can. ROTY Ben Simmons is an exciting young player to watch and complements Embiid’s game nicely. Despite having two great young stars, the biggest wildcard for the Sixers season is the play of Markelle Fultz. Being the first pick in the 2017 draft, Fultz injured his shoulder, ruining his shooting motion. This offseason, he reworked his jumper and looks to prove why he was taken first overall, and ultimately could be the reason for the Sixers success this season. 

Based on what has been seen at the beginning of this season, fans should be excited about this upcoming season, as various story lines have yet to unfold and the action packed offseason should carry over onto the court, making for must watch TV.

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