After months of waiting, the 2016-17 NBA season finally begins tonight! It’s a new season which provides many teams a chance to improve their greatness, while it’s a new start for others.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will begin their title defense tonight against the New York Knicks at 7:30 PM ET on TNT. LeBron James returned to the city of Cleveland just a few short years ago with a promise, to bring the city a championship, its first in over a decade. Not only did he fulfill this promise, but he also solidified his position as one of the best basketball players of all-time. Tonight, that banner will be raised, and LeBron will receive an extremely special championship ring.
The Golden State Warriors were extremely close to that ring in June. In fact, they were only one win away, but they ended up blowing a 3-1 lead to none other than the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 2015-16 Warriors posted the best regular season record ever at 73-9, and had they won that championship they may be looked at today as the best basketball team in the history of the game. The Warriors will have a new look this year, but believe it or not, it is a better one. With the offseason acquisition of Kevin Durant, the Warriors now have 4 (!) All-NBA players, a number never seen on a team before. The Warriors are going for not only that 74-8 record, but more importantly a championship. Sorry Golden State, but right now the NBA runs through Cleveland.
The team that will be playing the Cavs are the earlier mentioned New York Knicks. They have a completely new look this year, although the team is still centered around star forward Carmelo Anthony, the brought in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah from Chicago and Courtney Lee from Charlotte. These newcomers look to play a big role in their offense, along with second-year veteran big man Kristaps Porzingis. New York finished with an abysmal 32-50 record last season, and with these key pieces this year and no injuries, they should be able to make their return to the NBA Playoffs.
The Rookie of the Year race this season should be a good one, but this is because of the injury to Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons. He was the Sixers #1 draft pick and is talked about as one of the best young players to enter this league since LeBron James. Unfortunately for Simmons and Philadelphia, he will be sidelined a few months due to a broken bone in his foot. You might be wondering who the favorite now is…well that would be 76ers big man Joel Embiid, and his odds are at 3/1 according to Paddy Power. The 2014 draft pick out of Kansas hasn’t been able to play yet due to injury, but he did look incredible during the preseason. But, it is a wide open race with Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield, and Brandon Ingram right on his back.
The MVP race will be a good one this year, folks. Russell Westbrook is the odds-on favorite at 4/1, but he has LeBron James, 2x defending MVP Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and the rest of the league on his back. Westbrook is projected to put up MJ-like numbers this year. According to ESPN, the star guard is supposed to post 27.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 9.8 APG, and 2.0 SPG. This is clearly a hard task, and at this point, there are plenty of cases you can make for the other candidates to win. It’ll be hard for one out of the 4 Warrior All-NBA players (Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green) to win the award because their stats won’t look as great because of each other. Candidates such as Kawhi Leonard and Damian Lillard might be able to post crazy numbers and surprise people to win the award. But, you cannot forget that this is still LeBron James’ league. He should put up great numbers between him and Kyrie Irving and also should be able to dominate the league night-in and night-out. My pick for this year’s MVP would be LeBron James, solely because of the offseason he is coming off and the fact that he is viewed as the best player in the world.
So people, get your popcorn ready because the action starts tonight! Here’s to a great season!