It was a typical NBA offseason where our phones were buzzing from continuous notifications from Adrian Wojnarowski (I believe they call these ‘Woj bombs’) and players were switching teams quicker than your average family Yankee Swap. The offseason, deemed a lot of the time as the “silly season,” is always entertaining and gives many storylines to talk about.
There are five moves that will have major impacts this season and for that reason, you have to make sure you pay attention to them. And just to be clear, none of these story lines include the Warriors.
Let’s start with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In terms of trading talent for talent, the Thunder just committed highway robbery by acquiring. To get All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony for onlyand to only give up Victor Oladipo, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and Domantas Sabonis, none of which are all-stars or even borderline all-stars, is amazing. Paired with Russell Westbrook, arguably the best point guard in the league, Oklahoma City is now reloaded and ready to make a run at Golden State. The newest big three will take time to mesh, especially because Westbrook, George and Anthony are all ball dominant players. If they can learn to share the ball and play to each other’s strengths, as well as hope that “Hoodie Melo’s” playstyle shows up, the Thunder have potential and are poised to make noise.
With two more all-stars heading West, the East is even more thin on talent, and that paves the way for Giannis Antetokounmpo to leap into the MVP race.shine bright. Can this be the year that the Greek Freak leaps into the MVP race? I think so and why would anyone not? He averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game while shooting 52% from the field. That definitely puts him on notice as a “stat sheet stuffer.” If he can lead his Milwakee Bucks to a late second round appearance, and maybe even upset either Cleveland or Boston to go to the conference finals, and his numbers improve, MVP chants will ring true in the Bradley Center.
The Boston Celtics are ready. The job that Danny Ainge has done is almost unheard of and the reason for this is two fold: 1.) Has turned this team around in a quick fashion and 2.) has done this while still preparing for the future. The Celtics missed the playoffs for one season after trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. That is it. The rest of the time the Celtics have been in the playoffs, something that teams rarely see after trading their stars away and tanking the following season. Now the Celtics are an actual threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving has a chance to have an MVP type season; leading a team on his own for the first time as a mature, all-star point guard. Gordon Hayward is a pro’s pro and is nothing short of a perfect fit in Brad Stevens’ system. The combination of second year forward Jaylen Brown and rookie forward Jayson Tatum (who has drawn comparisons to Pierce) makes the Celtics dangerous. The Cavs will be without Isaiah Thomas for a majority of the this season and if Cleveland struggles without him, look for the green to find their own luck and assert themselves into the NBA Finals.
The Minnesota Timberwolves should have been good last year: but they weren’t. This year has to be a different story. Another year under Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns’ belts, plus the addition of veteran All-Star Jimmy Butler has to will them to make the playoffs. The western conference is loaded, so the Wolves will need to hunt in packs to reach their potenial and there is no secret to that, but the Timberwolves need to act now. I mean, they are wolves right? And what do wolves do? They hunt in packs and that’s what they are going to need to do. They need to play together. The alpha dog is KAT, but by no means is Jimmy Butler taking a back seat. The Wolves will find their niche I’m sure of that. Towns will also be an All-Star for the first time in his career, which will only give him more confidence.
The fifth and final NBA storyline to watch out for is not another team or player: it is the All-Star game. Is this the year the game revives itself? With the league changing the rules, players now have to respond. NBA All-Star weekend was already the best weekend out of any of the major US sports. Now, it can get better but the players have to buy in. They have to play hard. Enough playing harder in the summer time in a gym in New York (@LeBron James, @Kevin Durant, @Carmelo Anthony). This game can still be competitive, while not engaging 100% to watch out for injury. The league has done their part. Players, now it’s up to you.