Hello die-hard basketball fans, the 2019 NBA regular season is fast approaching. The 73rd season will begin on Tuesday, October 16th. The opening contests on that day are the Eastern Conference rival 76ers vs Celtics and the Thunder vs. Warriors. It’s taking place in the middle of the NFL season and MLB postseason. Of course, there are new young talents coming into the league and a lot of player movement in the offseason. There are numerous storylines about this season that people will be intrigued about. I wrote about the top 10 games to watch for this season. Below are some of the headlines that will catch your attention.
The 2018-19 NBA Regular Season Is Here
Lebron in LA
Well, it was the decision that rocked the NBA landscape with LeBron James taking his talents to Hollywood. This is all credit to Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to clear the cap space to lure the King to LA. The Lakers is LeBron’s third team and he will have the challenge to bring them back to championship glory. For him, it’s a dream come true to wear the purple and gold.
Luckily, the young talent in Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball that he’ll help and lead them. Also, they added vets in Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Michael Beasley to go along in the ride. Like in James’ first season with the Heat and Cavs, there will be some growing pains in the early parts of the year as it takes time to build chemistry. But Laker fans can be excited again with the hopes of a 17th title raised to the Staples Center rafters. This is the first time the Lakers struck gold in free agency since Shaquille O’Neal came to them in 1996.
Warriors Three-Peat hopes
Okay, it’s obvious that people can’t ignore Dub Nation, which is still the class of the league. They are the defending champions and won three of the last four titles. All of them were against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. First off, they have the two time MVP in Stephen Curry, two time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. Then, they got richer by signing talented big DeMarcus Cousins for only the mid-level exception. The crazy part was no team offered him a contract.
Now, the Warriors have an All-Star starting five in Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green, and Cousins. In addition, they still have Steve Kerr who is the third-winningest head coach in team history. It’s so unprecedented that it’s not fair for one team to have all these stars on one club. Last year’s title run was the toughest as they went through a grueling seven-game series against the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. But they would survive and sweep the Cavs in the Finals to win their second straight championship. There’s no question that they’re the heavy favorite to win it again for the third year in a row. If they do that, they would join the Celtics, Bulls, and Lakers as the only teams ever to three-peat.
Kyrie and Hayward’s Return
Last season was remarkable for the Celtics. First of all, Gordon Hayward fractured his ankle five minutes into the 2017-18 season and was lost for the year. Then this past March, Kyrie Irving would have problems in his left knee and had season-ending surgery. Everybody thought this team was dead in the water but exceed expectations due to Brad Stevens. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown quickly developed as the star players along with Terry Rozier in the playoffs. The Celtics made their run to the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to James’ Cavs in seven games.
Now, Irving and Hayward will be back 100 percent from their injuries. Also, Irving says he plans to re-sign in Beantown. With James out of the East, they are the team to beat. Their starting lineup is loaded with Irving, Hayward, Brown (3rd year), Tatum (2nd year) and Al Horford. They got a great bench led by roughrider Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, and Semi Ojeleye. Boston can matchup with anybody because they can go 10 deep. A Lakers-Celtics reunion in the Finals can happen soon.
2018 Draft Class
Then there is the rookie class of 2018 that will be making their transition to the pros. The most notable are DeAndre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets), Colin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies) and Kevin Knox (New York Knicks). The expectations are high for them because of their talent. There will be growing pains for the youngsters to go through in their first year. Once they go through that, they should have great careers.
Familiar Faces in New Places
Another season and more players switching teams. We know about LeBron James to the Lakers and Boogie Cousins to the Warriors. The big transaction was Kawhi Leonard going from the Spurs to North of the border for DeMar DeRozan. It was the second straight offseason that two All-Stars were traded for each other. Carmelo Anthony was jettisoned by the Thunder and ended up with James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston. Isaiah Thomas signed a one year prove it deal with the Nuggets to regain his All-Star self. In addition, Julius Randle signed with the Pelicans to play alongside Anthony Davis and Jabari Parker to his hometown Bulls.
With all the offseason moves, it has brought more intrigue to the league. The players have the power to go which team they choose. They choose other places to get out of their comfort zone, improve as players and build their brands. However, there are fans that didn’t want their star players to leave their favorite teams. But to the teams getting the stars, they have the ability to change the direction of their franchise.
Jimmy Butler Drama
The Timberwolves had an up and down season but they made the playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnett won the MVP in 2004. But there is turmoil between star player Jimmy Butler and the organization. Butler has stayed away from the team over issues with Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and the team questioning their commitment to winning. As a result, he asked for a trade and stayed away from the team at the beginning of training camp. But, Tom Thibodeau wanted to keep him while team owner Glen Taylor pled to honor Butler’s request.
What happened next was he came back to the team and he brought the fire in his first practice. After practice, Butler ranted at the squad saying they needed him to win and challenged Karl-Anthony Towns in the process. In an interview with Rachel Nichols, he expressed his frustration of wanting to win badly. Although Butler will be with the team when the regular season starts, this can be an ongoing issue throughout the year. He’s going to be a free agent in the summer of 2019 and will be looking to get paid and compete for a championship.
2019 Free Agency
Speaking of the summer of 2019 is going to be a star-studded field. The big names include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Kemba Walker, Kristaps Porzingis, Marc Gasol, and the fore-mentioned Jimmy Butler. We could see these All-Star be in different uniforms. There is the possibility that the Warriors dynasty could end as Durant, Thompson and/or Cousins can leave the Bay Area. Don’t expect anyone to make a LeBron live decision special to be ridiculed.
The Last Word
Ladies and gentleman, it’s time for another NBA season. So sit back and enjoy the ferocious dunks, game-winning shots, fancy dribbling, crossovers, Shaqtin’ A Fool’s and competitive basketball.
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