It’s that time of the year! The NBA is back and filled with the most drama in recent memory. Yeah, everyone is looking for the super-team Warriors to repeat with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson leading the charge, and yeah, the NBA is changing its All-Star game format, but that’s bottom of the barrel when talking about compelling stories. Let’s take a look at the top five stories to pay attention to for the 2017-2018 season.
1. What will the players do for the National Anthem?
The biggest story that’s dominating headlines in all of professional sports is players kneeling and sitting for the National Anthem to protest injustice, police brutality and systematic (and overt) racism. This style of protest is prevalent in the NFL and has now ventured into the MLB and even international soccer. Now, it may be the NBA’s turn. Although Adam Silver has publicly stated that players must stand per NBA rules, that will probably not fly. Many NBA players are outspoken, and with the recent tweets of LeBron James and J.R. Smith, and comments provided by Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, it doesn’t look like they plan to stop any time soon.
2. Who will win Rookie of the Year?
The rookie with the biggest name wasn’t even the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, but he is the most popular. Lonzo Ball, in large part because of his father, LaVar, is the most hyped prospect in the NBA this season. Can he bring magic back to the Lakers? We’ll see. But with Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson and others in the running, this race will be fun to watch. Oh, and did we mention Ben Simmons is back? Speaking of the Sixers…
3. WHEN WILL “THE PROCESS” STOP BEING A PROCESS!?
Look, Philadelphia, get it together. Please. You’ve been talking about this “process” for five years now. While one draft doesn’t really turn a team around, it’s about time to put your money where your mouth is, literally. With No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz running point, J.J. Redick signed, and Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid “healthy,” the Sixers are looking to make serious noise in the Eastern Conference. With a mass exodus of talent from the East, the Sixers should be able to make the playoffs. The real question is, will they compete once they get there?
4. Will Kyrie’s Move to Boston Shake Up the East?
This went 0 to 100, real quick. At first, Cleveland was destined to repeat after coming back from a 3-1 deficit vs. the Warriors. Next, some little 5-foot nothing guy named Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics to the No. 1 seed. After that, LeBron and Kyrie son’ed him. We got our Cavs-Warriors rematch, Golden State blew them out of the water with KD on the team, then all hell broke loose. News broke that Kyrie (who STILL believes the Earth is flat) was unhappy in Cleveland and wanted out. Well, he got his wish, as the Cavs and Celtics swapped their All-Star point guards over the summer. Boston also added Gordon Hayward while the Cavs added LeBron’s best bud Dwyane Wade…poor, J.R. The two teams face of TONIGHT in Cleveland…oh man.
5. Are the Thunder ready to be the Second best team in the West?
Russell Westbrook, got his MVP this past season after averaging a triple-double, something that hasn’t been done since 1962. Of course, he was able to do that after Kevin Durant left for the Warriors. Fast forward and the Thunder have now added, All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo “Hoodie Melo” Anthony. The East…WYD?
Houston, who was supposed to get Melo, lured Chris Paul away from the yearly disappointment that are the Clippers. But after Harden had his best season of his career running point guard, how will the Beard adjust to moving back to the 2? These guys will have to figure out how to share the ball before they are labeled as contenders.
With the addition of Jimmy Butler, the Timberwolves finally have a pseudo-veteran presence to lead their young guns. If K.A.T. plays some defense and the team can find a consistent outside shooter, they could be legit.
Last but not least: San Antonio. Who can ever count out Gregg Popovich and the Spurs? Well, no one. This one doesn’t need too much explaining, but don’t forget the fact that they added Rudy Gay to this year’s squad.
Most fans expect a Celtics-Cavs ECF and another Warriors-Cavs rematch, but there is a lot of basketball to be played between now and June. These and other storylines will keep us entertained throughout the fall and winter, especially if you’re boycotting the NFL. Either way we are ecstatic that the NBA is BYKE!