Photo courtesy of sportingnews.com | Steph Curry (left), Kevin Durant (middle), and Klay Thompson (right) and the Golden State Warriors look to win a stacked and resurgent Western Conference. They also look to defend their 2017 NBA championship title.
The NBA season kicked off last night after one of the wildest off seasons in which nearly 25 percent of NBA players changed rosters.
Here’s a look at how the top teams are looking.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics took the next logical step after a Conference Finals appearance and blew up the roster. This team is drastically different from last years but watch out once they gel. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, both all-stars last season, should form one of the better duos in the NBA as long as Hayward can return from a fractured ankle he sustained in last night’s contest.
Cleveland Cavaliers: They still have LeBron—for now—so this team is a lock for the Eastern Conference Finals. If Isaiah Thomas can get healthy, this squad is better equipped than last year to compete with Golden State. However, watch this team during trade season as it tries to compete with the Warrior’s roster moves.
Denver Nuggets: An uncertain point guard situation keeps the Nuggets from being a top team, but big man Nikola Jokic will keep the offense on track anyway. Look for them to challenge for the No. 5 seed in the West.
Golden State Warriors: One of the best teams ever got better. The addition of Jordan Bell in the draft, plus Nick Young and Omri Casspi in free agency, make this team scarier and more dangerous. It would take a major upset for them to not win the title again.
Houston Rockets: The addition of Chris Paul will take pressure off James Harden, but can this team challenge the Warriors? It’s a top team, but how far can it go? It has the talent to make a deep run most years, but in a loaded Western Conference they may not even make the conference finals.
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo means a near-automatic berth, but this team is poised to take the next step with a healthy squad. “The Greek Freak” plus a healthy supporting cast could sneak into the Eastern Conference Finals with a few breaks.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Is this the year potential turns into production? The Wolves should make the playoffs, regardless, with additions of Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague, but they could be a strong contender if Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony up their defensive game.
Oklahoma City Thunder: After acquiring two all-stars, the Thunder are an elite team. Look for it to be one of the few to challenge Golden State. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony will take a lot of pressure off Russell Westbrook and could help seriously challenge the Warriors.
San Antonio Spurs: They’ll get 50 wins, because they’re the Spurs, and could be a title contender. Injuries could limit their ceiling, but young talent plus a top defense could carry them farther than most teams this season.
Toronto Raptors: Has this team reached its ceiling, or is there another gear? This season will provide many answers about the Raptors future. Rookie OG Anunoby could push this team to the next level and back onto the list of top teams.
Washington Wizards: Can they legitimately challenge for the East? That’s unlikely this year, but they could if a couple things break their way. A thin bench means injuries could quickly derail them, but if they stay healthy the Wizards have a strong starting lineup featuring point guard John Wall and could make some noise.
By: Donnie Menke ~Staff Writer~