By Joel Deering
It’s been about a week since I’ve been able to write. Over the last week I got married and then spent my honeymoon at Disneyland walking around the parks all day and being thrown around by roller coasters. I haven’t been able to post until now, but don’t worry, I’m still up to date on what’s happening in the sports world. One of the biggest things that happened while I wasn’t posting, is DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Golden State Warriors. This was shocking news to the entire NBA. The Warriors now have five All-Stars in their starting lineup.
Like most NBA fans, I was pissed about this move. I told myself there’s not even a point in watching the NBA next season because we already know the Warriors are going to win the NBA championship again. After a little more thought into how the NBA season would be, I’ve come up with a list of some main reasons to watch the NBA during the 2018-19 season. Of course there are always more reasons than what I’ve listed, but my list is based on what I personally think will be fun to watch next season, regardless of if the Warriors win the championship or not.
LeBron in the Western Conference
LeBron James has played 15 seasons in the NBA. Every single one of those 15 seasons has been spent in the Eastern Conference. After joining the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron finds himself as a member of the Western Conference for the very first time in his career. I’ve already been following LeBron every season of his career, but this season of following him has to be one of the most interesting to watch.
I’ve heard so many times that LeBron James wouldn’t be able to do what he’s done in the Eastern Conference if he were in the Western Conference. Now it’s his chance to prove it. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for LeBron to lead the Lakers to being one of the best teams in the Western Conference. With LeBron James on your team, you’re going to be in the playoffs. The real challenge will come in the playoffs when the Lakers have to face teams like the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. Will LeBron be able to make the NBA Finals for a 9th straight year? The chances seem a lot less likely now that he’s joined the Western Conference, but you can never count him out.
The Lakers added some players in addition to LeBron James by signing Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo. I’m curious to see how these players fit with LeBron James, especially Lance Stephenson because of the history he has with LeBron. I’m not sure these players are the right fit for LeBron, but we know LeBron can make it work with no matter who he has. All eyes are always on LeBron, but the amount of attention he’ll get this season will sky rocket because he’s now a Laker.
The hype surrounding the Boston Celtics was huge going into last season. Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford was their starting lineup going into the season. That lineup didn’t last long, as Hayward suffered an injury early in their first game. Despite losing Hayward, the Celtics were the best team in the Eastern Conference for a while. People were starting to talk about a Warriors and Celtics Finals early on. Later in the season, Irving got injured and was out for the playoffs. Despite losing Irving, the Celtics were one game away from the NBA Finals.
The Celtics should have their original starting lineup from last season back to start this season. The lineup of Irving, Brown, Hayward, Tatum, and Horford looks even better now after Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum stepped up big time for this team in the absence of Irving and Hayward. You could probably consider this a low key super team. If all these players can stay healthy throughout the season, this will be a fun team to watch. If they’re all healthy going into the playoffs, keep your eye on them.
Who Rules the East?
Now that LeBron James has gone to the Western Conference, there will finally be a new team/player to rule the Eastern Conference. Who will that be? I just talked about the Celtics above, who have a very strong case to be considered the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. It’s not like they’re going to get the title of Eastern Conference champions easily. Several teams will be competing for that title and have a legit shot at claiming it.
The Raptors don’t have to deal with LeBron James anymore. No more LeBronto could mean they actually live up to their regular season record. We’ll see how they do with a new coach, but they have the players who got them to the number one seed in the conference last season, so they should be contenders. Philadelphia has a couple of young stars in Embiid and Simmons, who should continue to get better. If there’s one thing this team doesn’t lack, it’s confidence. This team has the confidence of a team who’s been to the Finals already thanks to Joel Embiid.
Milwaukee has Giannis, who has been compared to LeBron James many times. If he can continue to elevate his game, maybe he can elevate the Bucks to the NBA Finals. The Pacers were a team who almost beat LeBron in the playoffs last season. Who knows how far they would have gone if they pulled off a Game 7 victory in the first round. Now that LeBron is gone, the Eastern Conference is wide open. The title of Eastern Conference champions is there for the taking.
I think it will be interesting to see how the Kawhi Leonard situation plays out. There’s a chance it could be done before the season begins. The Spurs might end up trading Kawhi to the Lakers, 76ers, or somewhere else so they don’t have to deal with him anymore. If that is the case, it will still be interesting to see how Kawhi fits with his new team.
If Kawhi becomes a Laker, we’ll all be watching to see how he and LeBron do at taking down the Warriors. I’d love to see that matchup. If Kawhi goes to the 76ers, we may be looking at a 76ers and Celtics rematch in the playoffs to see who goes to the NBA Finals. It’d also be interesting to see how Kawhi’s personality fits with a loud and outspoken player like Joel Embiid.
If Kawhi stays on the Spurs throughout the season, will he even play? The ongoing drama between the team and Kawhi will continue throughout the season until he’s traded or signs with a new team in free agency after the season.