NBA fans rejoice! A new season has finally arrived and it’s shaping up to be the most competitive season yet.
For the Western Conference, the field is stacked. Preseason just wrapped up and it seems as though LeBron and the Lakers might just work, the Warriors are still top contenders, and the Spurs along with the Denver Nuggets are the underrated underdogs.
The Rockets will come knocking on the door with a healthy Chris Paul. Paul will rely heavily on the scoring production of reigning NBA MVP James Harden. With the addition of Carmelo Anthony, Anthony will give the Rockets some sustainability off the bench when Paul, Harden and the starters come off the floor.
With Coach Pop, Spurs should always be considered a contender or at least a playoff team. And with DeMar DeRozan scoring 15 points a game in preseason, he seems to have found his groove with San Antonio. I expect DeRozan to compliment Aldridge as both will average 20 points per game. How much the bench steps up will determine the Spurs fate.
In the Eastern Conference, although the Celtics will be the team to beat, the Philadelphia Sixers, the Toronto Raptors, and the Milwaukee Bucks will come knocking.
Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward broke his foot in the first game last season, taking him out for the year. Now a healthy Hayward, the Celtics are a threat to the entire league. Add Jayson Tatum and Kryrie Irving to Hayward and this team will put up 115 points per game while holding opposing teams to just 90 points per game. That’s how good they will be.
The Sixers have their own big 3 in Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. They have formed a solid foundation for the future. With Simmons as the reigning Rookie of the year to lead them, Sixers will utilize this young core to stay competitive in the East.
The Raptors seem to be the second team to beat in the East. They may have found the missing pieces with new Raptors and former Spurs, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Earlier this week Green said “he’s been on a lot of great teams for the Spurs, but this team is the deepest he’s ever been on.” Although the Raptors were able to acquire Leonard in the biggest trade of the summer, Green is not to be underestimated. His incredible defense with give the Raptors a boost that could help tame the high powered offense from Boston.
My top three teams for both conferences are the Warriors, Rockets, and Thunder for the West, and for the East, Celtics, Raptors, and Philly. But my underrated and underestimated teams for each conference are the Bucks, Cavaliers, and the Miami Heat for the East. The Spurs, Lakers, and the Utah Jazz will make a statement in the West.
This season will be competitive and will be electrifying as rivalries are restored and no matter who won the NBA Championship in the previous season, on day one, it’s anyone’s game.