If you're picking 5 teams to watch this season, pick these.
Golden State Warriors73-wins and a Finals fall have certainly motivated and helped the Golden State Warriors push further for improvement as they pulled out one of the biggest off-seasons in NBA history. Picking up the best free agent Kevin Durant this summer, the warriors added another 50-40-90 type of player to their already superior offensive team. The Warriors now have a “dynasty” team makeup of 2-time MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green & Kevin Durant.
Another 73 wins may be asking too much, especially since Golden State will need time to mesh with the newly acquired pieces. Defensive focus will probably slip, but…who cares. They are the only team in history to have 2 MVPs under 30 on the same roster.
** They are also the only team in NBA history to have four guys from All-NBA selections from last year.
Lebron James has finally brought home the championship he so promised his hometown last season. With two full seasons under their belt, Cleveland's proclaimed big three are finally simpatico and have learned to play off of each other’s skill sets. This was the team that managed to overcome an insurmountable deficit being down 3-1 in the Finals, no team in history has ever managed to pull this through.
With a healthy returning core and one of the NBA's greatest ever still at his prime, the Cavs are serious contenders to repeat as champions. Cleveland should enjoy another relatively easy path through the Eastern Conference.
Following a disappointing 34-win season last year, the New York Knicks are in for a total revamp – new coach, three new starters & nine new players overall. Taking on an aggressive approach this summer, the team brought in former All-Stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah while solidifying their depth with quality players such as Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee to supplement Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. While the new recruits are all proven players, each has struggled with significant injuries over the last few seasons and it’s fair to say each has lost some of the explosiveness that made them so effective in the past.
Based on talent alone, the Knicks have what it takes to become a special team, but if Noah or Rose is forced to miss numerous games, the combination of Carmelo, Porzingis and a new head coach should still be enough to get back into the playoffs.
The Chicago Bulls took a radical approach this offseason and shipped out the injury plagued former MVP Derrick Rose along with former All-Stars Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. This was necessary in order to free up the space needed to bring in Rajon Rondo and hometown star Dwyane Wade to complement the rising Jimmy Butler. These moves have resulted in a talented roster with questionable fit. On surface, this new trio's strengths do not fit the current NBA trend of ball movement and perimeter shooting.
While the Bulls had established a culture of continuity, don't be surprised if they make a major mid season move. They are likely to jump on deals that help with their long term plans rather than the season at hand. With that being said, the Bulls are a hard squad to peg, but you can count on them being at least competitive on most nights.
After two decades in purple and gold, superstar guard Kobe Bryant has retired marking the end of Mamba era and turning over the team to the next generation. Last season, the youth took a back seat to Kobe and his dependence on isolation. This season, it’ll all be about the young nucleus of D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson & Julius Randle.
Probably the best player in the preseason, D’Angelo “DLOADING” Russell showed the world what freedom is like without Kobe as evidenced in his preseason showing. There's a pretty good chance that Russell has a huge breakout year with his rookie season behind him and now a coach that actually has both the desire and ability to help him succeed. With nowhere to go but up, the future looks bright for the young nucleus of players.
Which team are you rooting for this year?