By Adnan Basic
After one of the most eventful summers in NBA history, fans are incredibly excited to see what the 2018/19 campaign has in store.
The season officially kicked off last Tuesday with two Eastern Conference powers facing off, as the Boston Celtics took on the Philadelphia 76ers. It was a close game until the end, with the Celtics running away in the final quarter in front of a rauces Boston crowd. The nightcap saw the Western Conference in the spotlight, with the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder. Many thought this would be a blowout, but the Thunder were able to keep it tight. However, the sheer quality of the Warriors got them over the line. It was a hot opening to the year that followed an entertaining summer break.
The biggest storyline of the offseason was centered around LeBron James and what team he’d choose to play for. After losing in the finals once again last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, most fans and experts were expecting him to head out to greener pastures. Although every team wanted him, only a number of them could afford him, and even less could realistically bring in “King James.” As the dog days of summer rolled on, the shortlist narrowed down to a few teams. In the end, LeBron decided to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, which was a smart decision both on and off the court. LA has one of the most exciting young rosters in the league and those young players will only further blossom under the leadership of James. Getting to move to Los Angeles was just a big of a reason for him to sign, as James is in the twilight of his career, so he’ll get to be closer to the Hollywood lights.
“Lebron’s move to LA was definitely a bold one,” said sophomore journalism major Mohammad Samra. “He’s looking beyond his NBA career by picking LA. He’s near the end of his contract and he’ll become a celebrity figure rather than a top tier basketball player. The West has been the tougher conference in more recent years, so he’s risking Finals appearances to take a much bumpier road to get to a place where he cruised to while playing in the East.”
Although less important, the Kawhi Leonard saga was arguably more intriguing than the James storyline. After becoming a household name in San Antonio, rumors began to surface that there was a rift between Leonard and the Spurs front office. He had missed a large chunk of the season prior, with some doubting the severity of the knee injury that had supposedly been keeping Leonard out of action. There were even reports coming out that the player was actively trying to avoid his coaches and fellow teammates. The messy situation came to a close in mid July, as Leonard was dealt to the Toronto Raptors in a blockbuster trade that saw DeMar Derozan head the other way. Now, all eyes will be up north to see whether or not Leonard will be able to fully recover from his injury problems.
The Chicago Bulls were able to get in on the action as well, signing free agent Jabari Parker to a two year deal worth $40 million. Once considered a potential phenom, injuries have derailed Parkers career so far. A native of Chicago, the Bulls front office will have hopes that a return home will be able to get the best out of the former Simeon product. The move might end up being a shrewd piece of business, but it won’t make the Bulls a playoff team just yet. There is just hope for the future, as a young core of Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine showed plenty of promise last year, but this team needs time to grow before they bring playoff basketball back to Chicago.
“I just want to see some improvement,” said sophomore child education major Sara Berrum. “I don’t expect a lot, but hopefully they do a bit better this year. The big thing would just to keep everyone healthy.”
The Bulls first game did not turn out how they planned, with the Bulls falling to the Philadelphia 76ers by a score of 127-108. After dropping 41 points in the first quarter, including a stretch where 13 consecutive shots went in, the Bulls were outclassed the rest of the game.
With all that considered, it still seems to be a one horse race when it comes to predicting an NBA champion. The Golden State Warriors were already the best team in basketball, and they got even better this offseason after signing All-Star Demarcus Cousins. The big man had his season cut short due to injury last year, which allowed the reigning champions to pick him up for a much cheaper deal than usual. When he gets back to full health, Golden State will have one of the most talented rosters in NBA history, which almost guarantees them a fourth title in five years.
“It’ll be the Warriors again.” said Ian Jackson, a junior journalism major at Roosevelt. “They are already dangerous now and when Cousins comes back they will have 5 all-stars on the court at the same time, which hasn’t been done before. They will be a scary team to face each and every game.”
National TV Schedule for Week 2 (Oct 22nd – Oct 28th)
|10/22||6:30 PM||Boston Celtics vs Orlando Magic||NBA TV|
|10/22||9:30 PM||Los Angeles Lakers vs San Antonio Spurs||NBA TV|
|10/23||6:00 PM||Detroit Pistons vs Philadelphia 76ers||NBA TV|
|10/24||6:00 PM||Atlanta Hawks vs Dallas Mavericks||ESPN|
|10/24||8:30 PM||Milwaukee Bucks vs Philadelphia 76ers||ESPN|
|10/25||7:00 PM||Oklahoma City Thunder vs Boston Celtics||TNT|
|10/25||9:30 PM||Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets||TNT|
|10/26||6:30 PM||New York Knicks vs Golden State Warriors||NBA TV|
|10/26||9:00 PM||Sacramento Kings vs Washington Wizards||NBA TV|