*a 5 minute read*
You all know what time it is. You all know what is about to be upon us. And if you don’t know, by the end of this article, you should have a pretty clear idea.
The NBA season is about to kick off in seven days which means we are seven days closer to seeing Lebron flopping, Kyle Lowry in a Miami Heat uniform (I’m not crying, you are…), and if Ben Simmons will shoot the basketball from outside of the key. It’s truly a beautiful time to be a basketball fan.
While there are always high expectations for the league to produce memorable moments and highlights for years to come, the NBA wouldn’t be the NBA without its drama and story lines which fuel the crazy debates and arguments NBA fans have regularly. And while there are many, many (believe me, there are so many) storylines all over the league which can be covered, I will limit mine to three which have caught my attention and should pique your interest— roll the tape.
CHI-TOWN STAND UP
The Chicago Bulls finally got my guy Zach Lavine some help. At long last, the time has come for the Bulls to make the playoffs again and make some noise to shake up the Eastern Conference.
With the addition of Nikola Vucevic from last year and the free agency signings of Lonzo Ball and Demar Derozan, Lavine has the ideal players around him to not only take some pressure off him but allow the Bulls to utilize other offensive weapons to do damage against other teams in the league.
The best signing of them all has to be Lonzo Ball. The Bulls now have an ideal floor general for the modern game and Lonzo’s skillset will allow the other three stars to be featured in the offense consistently and effectively. All we need to see from Zo is an emphasis of aggressiveness when shooting/driving the ball added on to what he already does and the sky is the limit for him. We’ll see how things end up working out.
With a bench unit consisting of Alex Caruso, Coby White, Alize Johnson and Derrick Jones Jr, one thing is guaranteed with this team — they will be extremely fun to watch and very annoying to play against.
Let’s not get it twisted, the Chicago Bulls are not my pick for winning the championship (ha never that) and I don’t see them reaching the Eastern Conference finals this year, but I do expect a strong playoff push with an exciting breakout year for Lonzo Ball. Who else can’t wait for the Lonzo to Lavine/Derozan lob plays inside the United Center?
The Curious Case of Ben Simmons
Ah, Ben Simmons, what a guy. I will not be bashing Simmons for what has happened over the last couple of months because honestly, the Philadelphia 76ers have handled this situation poorly. And while it looks like Simmons will be playing in a 76ers uniform for the majority of this season, he is now caught up in the stickiest of situations which the media and fans have been following along closely.
We can look at the facts of the case and see what we already know about what is currently going on.
Fact 1) Ben Simmons doesn’t shoot the basketball except when he is inside the paint which is a detriment to his team because he makes it easier to guard himself and the rest of his team.
Fact 2) Simmons’s performances in last year’s playoffs showed the world he has a bulging deficiency in his game and has plenty of work to do if he is going to help the 76ers win a championship.
Fact 3) The statements made by Joel Embiid and Doc Rivers didn’t help the situation at all which deterred Ben Simmons from wanting to participate in training camp and if anything, ruined the relationship Ben has with the entire organization.
Fact 4) Doc Rivers is a fraud coaching-wise (this may be biased and not seen as a fact but this is my article so my rules, don’t @ me).
Simmons has almost become “untradeable” because his value has been tarnished by his teammates, his coach, and to a certain degree, himself. While he is not the first player in history who needs to work on his game to become the best version of himself, his unwillingness to shoot has become such a glaring weakness that NBA teams don’t see a point in trading valuable assets for him.
The whole situation is a bit weird by NBA standards and it will be interesting to see how things unfold. I mean, the 76ers say they want him there and want to “build” something special with him. But if someone talked shit about you, released unwarranted comments about you (especially to the media smh) and failed to protect you in the lowest of times, would you want to continue playing for that team?
Either way, it looks like the city of Philadelphia and Simmons will be stuck with each other for a while. While we continue to get more information about this case, I am sure once Ben is back on the court, he will be shooting six jumpshots a game just to let everyone know he means business. You heard it here first.
Will The Raptors Make The Playoffs?
I have been going back and forth with my family about this one for a while. After analyzing the circumstances, looking at the motivations for some of the players, and evaluating the skills of the current roster, I can say what I am about to say with my chest — the Toronto Raptors will make the playoffs.
Now without the greatest Raptor of all time on our squad in Kyle Lowry (no, I don’t want to talk about it, I’m fine), the Raptors are transitioning to a new time for their team, with the core of Fred Vanvleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam leading the way. The roster has been shaken up quite a bit but honestly, there are some gems in there which can help make this thing work. Let’s take a look.
Drafting Scottie Barnes was the biggest W (standard abbreviation for a win) the Raptors took from the draft. A do-it-all type of player, Scottie will be the name we (we as in Raptors fans) will be hearing plenty of for years to come. Precious Achiuwa, Gary Trent Jr., Chris Boucher, and Khem Birch will help offer scoring, defense, and flexibility along with the core players for a more well-rounded offense and effective defense compared to last year (thank God Aron Baynes is no longer with us).
Picking up Goran Dragic in the Lowry trade seems decent on paper but with a player like Malachi Flynn slowly blossoming into a reliable guard, we’ll take anything positive we can get from Dragic this season and call it a day. Trust me, it could have been worse (seriously, imagine if we had received a guy like Eric Bledsoe instead?).
In terms of where the Raptors will finish, this is where it starts to get tricky. The teams which are a lock for me in the Eastern Conference are the Nets, Bucks, Hawks, Bulls, Miami, 76ers, Celtics/Knicks and the Raptors. I see a potential play-in-game opportunity with the Celtics and Knicks and the Raptors taking the 7th seed.
With the coaching of Nick Nurse and a solid foundation of the Raptors core, they along with their new roster should be enough to squeeze into the playoffs. From there, it’s all in God’s hands. We’ll see where we are by the all star break and come back to this prediction.
Lastly, I will offer two final thoughts for the Raptors this season. Do with it what you will.
- OG Anunoby will have a big breakout year. Baby Kawhi incoming.
- This is the redemption year of Pascal Siakam. The spin cycle will be back and humble all of the doubters. Believe that.
Who Will The NBA Championship?
I couldn’t end off this article without answering this question. It is not as simple as I will make it seem but the answer to who will the NBA championship is the… Dallas Mave… (just kidding) it’s the Brooklyn Nets.
This is not a matter of if the Nets will win, rather it is a matter of the Nets must win or else the slander from everyone in the world will be unhealthy and unstoppable.
With a roster such as Brooklyn’s, all I can say is that it speaks for itself. Equipped with three megastars in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, plus effective veteran role players in Patty Mills, Blake Griffin, and Paul Millsap, there’s enough firepower on this team to handle what the NBA’s best has to throw at them. Honestly, the Nets biggest threat is health and Kyrie Irving. If they stay healthy, they have to win it all. If Kyrie Irving is not in the mix, then some issues start to occur and things start to get complicated.
Announced on Tuesday, October 12th, 2021, Irving is not allowed to play or practice with the Brooklyn Nets until he is vaccinated due to the New York Covid-19 mandate. While this decision is fresh and we don’t know if Kyrie will play this season, this may have a huge effect on their team’s success this year. Read more here https://www.skysports.com/nba/news/36226/12432307/kyrie-irving-brooklyn-nets-confirm-star-wont-play-until-vaccinated-and-able-to-participate-full-time?src=rss
(Now inserting a hypothetical situation) The Nets best bet without Irving is Harden playing like a mix of Houston Harden (aggressive scorer, give me the ball and let me handle everything offensively) and Brooklyn Harden (floor general, getting everyone else involved first) being the key to them reaching the promised land of the NBA finals and winning. With Kevin Durant being the best player in the league right now (yea, you read that right) on your team, and with the current roster around him, you will always have a chance to do something special.
The Nets must win it all this year to not only enhance KD’s, Harden’s and Kyrie’s legacy, but also because their team at full strength should have no problems dealing with the rest of the NBA. But we’ve seen stranger things happen before so expect something unpredictable to happen along the way. Believe me when I say, it truly is a beautiful time to be a basketball fan.
More to Come
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to share with a fellow basketball fan, and stay tuned for more to come. Also, answer the question below!