Offseason trades and acquisitions bring new level of hype as the basketball season commences
The 2016 to 2017 National Basketball Association season began last week, and with it come several exciting storylines that fans are eager to see play out between now and June. Can the Cleveland Cavaliers defend their title? Can Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors continue to perform at a historically impressive level of eliteness? However, there are three notable storylines that every NBA fan should keep their eyes on as the season kicks in.
Indisputably, the biggest story of the offseason was the Golden State Warriors’ acquisition of former league MVP Kevin Durant. Durant’s decision to join the Warriors comes after Golden State had the most successful regular season in league history, finishing the year at 73-9. Despite that regular season success, however, the team was unable to hold a 3-1 series lead in last year’s Finals, losing in Game 7 to LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Some analysts believe that adding Durant will put the Warriors over the hump and will keep James and company from defending their championship crown. Others posit that the roster shakeup undertaken by the Warriors to clear cap space for Durant’s acquisition has significantly weakened the team’s bench and will thus result in a disappointing season. Only time will tell if the Warriors’ decision to pursue Durant, one of the league’s most electrifying scorers, was worth unloading much of their elite second-unit.
One of the other intriguing narratives that developed throughout the offseason centers around the New York Knicks and their newly formed, self-proclaimed “super team.” In a move that caught many by surprise, the Knicks maneuvered their way into acquiring former league MVP Derrick Rose and former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah from the Chicago Bulls. While Rose and the rest of the Knicks believe themselves to be among the league’s elite teams, most find it hard to believe greatness is ahead for New York. With the head-scratching signing of new head coach Kurt Rambis and a history of mediocrity for Carmelo Anthony-led teams, the Knicks may prove once more to be relatively irrelevant in a league replete with superstar teams.
The third and perhaps most interesting storyline revolves around whether the Cavaliers will be significantly challenged by an Eastern Conference foe this season. Though many believe the Cavs will once again run away with the Eastern Conference and steamroll their way into the Finals, offseason acquisitions have made the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers more formidable opponents. After years of searching for a superstar, the Celtics finally got one in the form of four-time all-star Al Horford. Though Horford undoubtedly makes the Celtics better, it remains to be seen whether they are still missing a few key pieces to get them over the hump. The Pacers had a similarly successful offseason, adding all-star point guard Jeff Teague and one of the league’s more athletic forwards in Thaddeus Young. Those acquisitions, coupled with the imminent development of Myles Turner, will make the Pacers a scary team to face come time for postseason play. Though the Celtics and Pacers have taken the right steps to improving their rosters, there is nevertheless little reason to believe King James’ reign is about to see its end.
The beginning of each season brings a sense of pervasive excitement in the basketball world, but few seasons have started with such intriguing storylines. Fans everywhere should relish the high level of entertainment this season will bring.