We have officially reached the final days of October, which means a couple of things.
For some, it means that your old friends from high school are going to be texting you for the first time in months asking if you know of any parties for Halloween and whether or not they can stay at your apartment. It also means hungover procrastinating and studying for midterms as you rush to get those friends out of your place as quickly as possible. And then there’s the World Series for baseball fans.
For myself and people like me though, it means one very important thing: the start of the NBA season.
In the next week, we’ll get to see a few memorable moments in NBA history. Tim Duncan and the Spurs will pick up championship ring #5, LeBron James will make his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Kobe Bryant will return from his second straight season-ending injury to begin the final chapter of his glorious career.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the top storylines as we head into the 2014-15 season.
Back in Cleveland
While there was more than one key player being watched in the offseason’s scramble for top talent, there was obviously none more important than LeBron James.
Four years in Miami, four NBA Finals trips, two rings. No matter how you look at it, that’s a success story. Now, the one they call “The King” has a chance to fix his greatest plunder by finally bringing a ring to his homeland, and he has a great chance of doing that with the newly constructed “Big Three.”
A budding Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are essentially new-and-improved versions of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, albeit coming with less playoff experience then their Miami Heat counterparts. When you have this much talent in your starting lineup though, there is a saying that goes, “Experience, Exshmerience.” This team might need just a little time to work out the kinks, as did Miami, but come playoff time, they are going to roll through just about everybody on their way to LeBron’s fifth straight NBA Finals. Maybe, unless he keeps setting screens on his own teammates.
Can the Old Men do it Again?
Every NBA preseason since the dawn of time, analysts have been asked one important question: is this the year the Spurs will finally slow down? And, every year since the dawn of time, that answer has seen more “Yes’s” than a Barack Obama presidential campaign.
I thought San Antonio was finally done in 2011, when an upstart Memphis Grizzlies team took them down in the first round to become just the second eight-seed ever to take down the top team in a best-of-seven series. Boy, was I wrong.
The Spurs won their first championship in seven years this past June, embarrassing the Miami Heat in one of the most dominating five game showings in NBA history. Is this the year they will finally pass the torch down to a younger team that has worked oh so hard to overtake the conference? The Thunder, the Clippers, maybe even the Warriors? I expect the same old, same old from San Antonio, but come on guys. Let someone other than Kobe have some fun out west.
Tick Tock Goes the Durant Clock…
Since the Thunder have moved to OKC, they have improved their record in every year except the last one (when they failed to improve on a 60-22 record by going 59-23). Two years removed from the NBA finals, and “Loud City” might be starting to get a little uneasy knowing that Kevin Durant’s contract expires in two years.
Not helping matters is the fact that Durant will be out for the first portion of the season with a broken bone in his foot, meaning Russell Westbrook has the spotlight for the first time in his career. Durant turned Westbrook’s injury last season into an opportunity for him to win his first MVP, so we’ll see what Westbrook can do as the number one guy.
An NBA championship might possibly be the only thing that can keep a guy like Durant from leaving, because he is, as most of us have learned by now, a pure winner. Good luck, Thunder fans.
Is It Our Turn Yet?
The Warriors and Clippers have continued to get better and better with each year that passes. Steph Curry is officially a superstar, Blake Griffin is officially a top MVP candidate, and Chris Paul remains the best point guard in the league. These teams aren’t San Antonio though, and likely don’t have unlimited lives and continues to keep their championship aspirations alive.
I just hope we get to see them duke it out in the playoffs again. Talk about fun.
Best of the Rest –
The Black Mamba Rises
Can Kobe do it again? The “Mamba” has rebuilt in LA before, but this time he has no Andrew Bynum, no Pau Gasol, no Phil Jackson, and just two years left on his much maligned contract. Whether the Lakers go 82-0 or 0-82, or whether or not you hate Kobe, as basketball fans, we all just need to respect what the old man has done and enjoy the final years of one of the greatest careers the league has ever known.
The East Has More Than One Team?
Success in the East will seemingly go wherever LeBron feels like letting it go to, but we can’t forget teams like Chicago and New York. Maybe even Miami. The Bulls now have one of the best front lines in the world with Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, and Derrick Rose is officially back. New York now has Phil Jackson calling the shots. And Miami… Well lets face it, this is probably a three-team race.
Nerlens Noel makes his delayed rookie debut, Andrew Wiggins takes over in Minnesota, Jabari Parker sees if he can shine in Milwaukee, and Doug McDermott will probably benefit from plenty of open looks in Chicago.
Can the season just start already?