Warriors target three-peat: NBA Season Preview

After one of the more memorable off seasons in recent years, the new NBA season tips off tomorrow amidst the news that Sky Sports will now be showing all the year’s action. Grant Barnes looks at the most fancied teams this season.

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Sky have picked an interesting time to start covering the NBA. The era of “superteams” is now in full swing, and with the addition of one of the league’s best big men, DeMarcus Cousins, the Golden State Warriors look to be on course to win their 3rd straight title before the season has even started.

LeBron James finally signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, ending almost a year of speculation about The King’s next move.

One of the game’s top 5 players, Kawhi Leonard, finds himself in Toronto after missing nearly the entirety of last season due to a dispute with the San Antonio Spurs, the same side he won his first and only NBA Championship with.

These moves only begin to scratch the surface of a turbulent offseason, and with a host of old stars in unfamiliar colours mixed with an exciting new batch of rookies, it’s set to be one of the most intriguing NBA seasons in years, all building up to 2019’s free agency frenzy.

 

Teams to Watch

Golden State Warriors

Picture the scene. After a record breaking season, the Warriors win 73 out of 82 games. In their ranks, they have 2 of the greatest shooters the game has ever seen, including the greatest shooter of all time. They have a defensive player of the year who is still capable of putting up 20+ points a game. However, all of this still wasn’t enough for the Warriors to overcome LeBron James in the final, so they went and added the 2nd best player on the planet in Kevin Durant

Since then, the NBA has been dominated by the Warriors juggernaut as they have gone on to win back-to-back championships with the power of Stephen Curry and Durant.

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Under Steve Kerr’s management, the Warriors have won three of the last four NBA titles

Then to top it all off, this offseason they have signed possibly the best centre (big man) in the league, DeMarcus Cousins. The Warriors possess an offensive power the likes of which never seen before, with all of their starters capable of pulling off 20,30,40 point nights.

However, with ever louder murmurs of Durant’s departure at the end of this season and shooting guard Klay Thompson a free agent at the end of this year, we could be witnessing the beginning of the end for one of the most dominant teams basketball has ever seen.

For this season, the Warriors really should win this season’s title, however it will be next summer where the real test begins as the Warriors look to keep their core group.

 

Boston Celtics

Over in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics pose the biggest threat to the Warriors’ crown. With an incredibly exciting young core led by superstar point guard Kyrie Irving and the returning Gordon Hayward, the Celtics have enough genuine talent to pose the Warriors real problems.

Their biggest issue is the health of their players. Hayward will play his first basketball since his horrendous leg break on the first day of last season, and Irving returns after missing the second half of last season due to a recurring knee injury.

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Boston’s star man Irving averaged 24 points a game last season, which was cut short with an injury (Credit: Press Association)

If the Celtics are healthy and young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown keep progressing at the rate they are, they will be a genuine contender for the Championship, especially in a weaker Eastern Conference now LeBron has moved to the Lakers.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

Whilst the Lakers may not yet have enough to challenge for this season’s title, they will be without a doubt one of the more intriguing sides in this year’s NBA.

LeBron has been paired with the Lakers’ young core including Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, and some of the league’s most infamous jokers, including Javale McGee and Lance Stevenson.

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Even at 33, Lebron is showing no signs of slowing down (Credit: Getty Images)

In his 16th year LeBron is showing no signs of slowing down. If this trend continues then he will still need a lot of help from his role players and the younger players around him, particularly Ingram who looks set for a breakout season after drawing comparisons with Durant.

The Lakers will make for box office watching this year, and whilst they may not challenge for the title this year, their entertaining young core along with older stars looking to prove a point will be an incredibly interesting story.

 

Notable Mentions

Among the teams that will be vying to knock Golden State off the top spot will be the Houston Rockets. After just falling short against the Warriors in last year’s Western Conference Finals, the Rockets will be looking to go one better this time around.

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James Harden’s Rockets just fell at the final stage last season (Credit: USA Today)

They boast the reigning MVP James Harden on their roster, and ‘point god’ Chris Paul will be looking to lead the team for his first NBA ring.

The Philadelphia 76ers will also be looking to go one step further than last year. The dynamic pairing of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were wildly entertaining to watch last year, and with a more experienced roster this time around they will be hoping they have the star power to trouble those around them.

It’s set to be an incredibly exciting year in the NBA. More and more teams look better equipped to challenge the Warriors’ throne, however it will be a mammoth task to overcome one of the most dominant NBA teams in living memory.

 

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