*5 min read*
The NBA season is back! It is that time of the year, basketball fans, and you know what that means. Yes! That’s right! Basketball for an entire 82 game season! The NBA season is already underway, and I am very excited for this season.
This off-season, changes have taken place, and we see how some of these changes have affected teams across the league. LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets), now starting point guard in his sophomore season, torched the Indiana pacers and scored 31 points in his first game this season, (shooting 7-9 from the three point line). The Knicks & Celtics battled at Madison Square Garden in an epic duel which was finally decided in Double OT when the Knicks won 138-134. And the new-look Raptors lost in their home opener to the Wizards, which was the first game back at the Scotiabank arena in over a year, a very disappointing sight to see.
In just the first few games, many teams are starting to flourish. But, for this particular story, we will focus on three contending teams in the league that are bound to impact their respected conferences significantly.
The Miami Heat acquired veteran guard and NBA Champion Kyle Lowry in a trade, forming a new big three of Lowry, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Lowry coming off of last season was approaching his final days as a Raptor, and as a reward for his hard work and dedication to the franchise, the Raptors traded him to a contending team in Miami for Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa.
Lowry’s veteran presence will have a significant impact on this roster. The Heat now have a true point guard in Kyle Lowry, who will facilitate the offence at the point guard position. Lowry (a pass-first guard) is perfect for the Heat’s style of play. He adds tremendous backcourt depth, which will take some pressure of Butler to create plays for others. Three-point shooters Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson will get more looks on the ball, and not to mention Lowry is also a great defensive guard (known for taking charges), which adds to an already solid defensive team.
The Heat, coming off a recent 2019-2020 finals appearance, are expected to contend once again this season in the eastern conference. They’ve made other acquisitions to their roster, adding defensive forward and new NBA champion PJ Tucker from the Milwaukee Bucks this off-season, and acquiring 2X all-star Victor Oladipo last season. Both players were former teammates on the Houston Rockets.
With talent, veteran leadership, and championship experience across the roster, the Heat can be considered a dark horse team in the eastern conference this season. With their roster, they will compete with the NBA’s best, such as the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Lakers. With Butler pursuing his first championship ring, we will see how far the Heat go this season.
Los Angeles Lakers
This season, the 2019-2020 NBA champs, the Los Angeles Lakers, look superior as they have a super team. This isn’t at all surprising because they’ve had two super teams in the past. This franchise typically has the money to sign the best superstars in the league, and when you combine that with the history, culture, and nice weather that this franchise offers, you see why most players want to come and play for this team.
This off-season the Lakers were able to add a lot of star talent to their already star-studded roster. While Lebron James and Anthony Davis remained on the roster, the Lakers acquired 8X all-star and 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards in a vast trade that sent Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Wizards.
They’ve also added other players, including Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Nunn, & Malik Monk. Anthony (a hall of famer), who is pound for pound one of the greatest scorers of all time, is in search of his first NBA ring, and this may be his last chance to win it all and what better way to do it along side his best friend, Lebron James.
Veterans in Rondo and Howard were a part of the championship roster from two seasons ago, so it is safe to say that the chemistry should still be there. With the addition of a few young players (Nunn and Monk), the Lakers are expected to contend in their respected conference, and they may very well be the favourites to make the finals this year from the west.
Although the Lakers are favourited, many people have begun to speculate whether they can win it all this year. Super teams haven’t exactly been kind to this franchise in the past (Howard saga 2011-12), and they also have an older roster with nine players being 30+ in age. With a mix of old and young players, there is no telling if this team will be fast-paced or slow-paced, but one thing we know for sure is that they’re already off to an 0-2 start, and need to pick up the pace before things start to get ugly.
Now entering his 19th NBA season, Lebron is looking to add to his already hall of fame resume. Number six is back and the 4X champ and 4X MVP is in search of his fifth NBA Championship and will stop at nothing to get it.
Golden State Warriors
This season, the Dubs are back with a vengeance and are looking to do severe damage in the western conference. The west always seems to be a battle every season, but the Warriors will now have a fighting chance this year as their marksman sniper Klay Thompson returns to the floor. Thompson has not played a game since his season-ending ACL injury in the 2019 NBA finals but is back and is looking to put the league on notice.
The 3X champ Thompson is hungry, and the same can be said for the rest of the Warriors roster. Stephen Curry has not lost a step since his hand injury from two seasons ago, and he is looking better than ever. It seems like he just continues to evolve every season. Curry finished 4th in the MVP race last year, and he averaged 32 points, 5.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds, leading the Warriors to the play-in game where they just fell short of the playoffs.
To start the 2021-22 season, The Warriors defeated the star-studded Lakers in the first game, and Curry torched the Los Angeles Clippers in the Warriors home opener and put up an impressive stat line 45 points and ten rebounds to lead the Warriors to a 2-0 start.
The Warriors also have a great supporting cast on their roster. Players such as Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins remain with the Warriors, adding tremendous depth to the Warriors frontcourt. 2X champ and veteran Andre Iguodala is back and is in search of another championship with the Dubs. The young guys on the roster also have something to prove, including Jordan Poole, who has been exceeding expectations already this season. With Klay Thompson out, Poole has been making use of his minutes to showcase his skills, and he has not failed to impress. Wiseman, now entering his sophomore year, is expected to have a strong season as the Warriors starting big man, but he is expected to miss a few games, so we’ll see how he fairs out this season.
The dubs are almost back to full strength can they dominate the league again?
Can the Bucks Repeat?
Coming off of their 2020-21 Championship, the Milwaukee Bucks’ are looking dangerous again this season. The defending champions dominated the east last season and won it all for the state of Wisconsin. Giannis Antetokounmpo finally completed the quest that Kobe Bryant had set out for him and is looking to add to his NBA resume. The Bucks began the season defeating Kevin Durant and the Nets and looked dominant in the win, with Antetokounmpo finishing with 32 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists.
Antetokounmpo’s jump-shot is looking smooth so far this season, and if this remains consistent throughout the season, this can mean bad news for the rest of the league as he is already a complete player other than a consistent jumpshot. The bucks brought back most of their championship roster from their 2020-21 season. Can they repeat as champions? We will find out in due time.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more content!