As the days get shorter, and school is filled with more midterms and assignments, it’s easy to be gloomy. However, this time of year gives reason to look up—it marks the NBA’s return.
The offseason came and went, with many huge events occuring over the short summer. LeBron James traveled out west to join the Los Angeles Lakers, the Toronto Raptors retooled and regrouped with a trade for Kawhi Leonard, and star players like Jimmy Butler told their teams they wanted out.
Off the heels of back-to-back NBA championship wins, the Golden State Warriors remain favourites to win the championship—their third in as many years.
Adding four-time NBA All-Star center Demarcus Cousins makes their lineup—which already included two former MVPs, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry—the most threatening it’s ever been. After he returns from his Achilles injury, it’ll be noteworthy to see how Cousins’ ball-dominant play style meshes with the Warriors’ much renowned ball movement offense.
Each team in the NBA has spent plenty of time looking for the formula responsible for the Warriors’ recent success, but they’ve all come up empty. However, with the moves some teams have made in the offseason over the summer, this season could see the defending champs dethroned.
In one of the bigger splashes of the summer, the Lakers added LeBron James to play alongside its already young and developing core. In another move, which drew criticism from media and fans alike, the Houston Rockets added Carmelo Anthony to their supercharged offense.
Although it made no notable signings, the Eastern Conference favourite Boston Celtics are finally fully healed with the return of All-Stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving—both were sidelined due to injuries last season. The Milwaukee Bucks added head coach Mike Budenholzer, who will look to get the most of primary playmaker Giannis Antetokounmpo’s unique talents and physical abilities.
Meanwhile, the Raptors traded for two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard, sending longtime Raptor and fan-favourite Demar Derozan the San Antonio Spurs’ way in exchange. The opportunity to trade for a top-five player in his prime doesn’t come around often, and the Raptors were smart to pounce on it. Additionally, the team fired Head Coach Dwane Casey and replaced him with first-time NBA coach Nick Nurse.
With a new lineup and offensive scheme starring Leonard, Kyle Lowry, and Jonas Valanciunas, the Raptors will look to shake off their playoff demons and leave their mark on the Eastern Conference.
[T]he Raptors will look to shake off their playoff demons and leave their mark on the Eastern Conference.
With a long year ahead, and 30 capable teams fighting for the same goal, this NBA season should present some storylines sure to unravel along the way.
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