NBA Season Preview
By Hank Hahne, Staff Writer
Will the Warriors waltz through the league again this year?
The 2018-2019 NBA season is set to be an exciting one as the perennial Cavs-Warriors dominance of East and West looks to be coming to an end. Here are the main storylines that emerged over the offseason:
The story everyone has been waiting for this season is how LeBron James will perform in LA after leaving the Cavaliers in the offseason for the Lakers. It has been suggested that any team with LeBron in it will be able to challenge the Warriors for supremacy over the league. The acquisition of Rajon Rondo, with his ball-handling ability and experience, add to the core of Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. However, a slow start to the season, 1-3 with 3 straight losses, has already brought the off-season’s high hopes into question. The 0-3 start was only the second time LeBron had been in such a situation in his career.
Warriors Grow Even Stronger
One would be forgiven for thinking it impossible, but the Warriors have found a way to put themselves even further out of reach of the competition by picking up DeMarcus Cousins from the Pelicans. Growing complaints that their unrivaled dominance is ruining the league haven’t slowed the Warriors down in the slightest. Cousins was one the best big men in the NBA last season, forming a dynamic duo with Anthony Davis, averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 boards, and 5.4 assists per game before his season was ended by an Achilles rupture. Cousins is still recovering from the injury but will be returning to practice with the team soon in a limited role. While he won’t be available for some time, if the center is able to come back and perform the same way he did with New Orleans, the Warriors should be the favorite this season. In the meantime, Steph Curry will continue to lead the starting five that produced a third Finals trophy in four years last season. On Wednesday against the Wizards, the Golden State marksman dropped 51 points with 11 three-pointers.
Eastern Conference Power Vacuum
The departure of LeBron from the Cavs leaves Cleveland as merely fringe playoff contenders these days, rather than the shoe-in to represent the East in the Finals they have been in recent years. The race is on for another franchise to step up, fill the void, and give basketball fans a new title matchup from the one they’ve seen in the past four seasons. Many teams look to be in good positions to do so. The Raptors signing of Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs gives them a great chance for improvement on their 59 wins last season. A healthy Boston Celtics team, who were able to make waves in the East without both Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving last postseason, are the more favored contenders. Sixers fans will hope that they can continue to “Trust the Process,” banking on the continued development of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and the emergence of Markelle Fultz as a talent to bring them success. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks’ hopes for success lie with likely MVP contender Giannis Antetokounmpo.
These stories only scratch the surface of what fans can expect from another exciting NBA season. Will LeBron be able to revitalize the Lakers as the franchise had hoped? Will the Warriors run circles around the league for another year or will notable challengers like the Houston Rockets come within reach yet again? Who will step up in the Eastern Conference? The 2018-2019 NBA season will be sure to entertain as the answers to those big questions unfold.