SPANISH HARLEM – The NBA season started on Tuesday… and what a game to start with! The Los Angeles Lakers faced the Los Angeles Clippers and with both teams having made a splash this off season, with the Lakers trading for Anthony Davis and the Clippers signing Kawhi Leonard, the subplots were aplenty. Included in the drama was the Lakers thinking they had the best chance of signing Leonard before the Clippers traded away Paul George to secure his signing. Rubbing salt in the wound, the Clips won this first meeting and made a statement right out of the gate. With that, let me get into a couple questions that have intrigued me as we look forward.
WHO WILL COME OUT OF THE WESTERN CONFERENCE?
The aforementioned two teams are the favorites to represent the Western Conference on the NBA Finals but as we know with sports, anything is possible. An injury here and there can change the dynamic of a team greatly. The Houston Rockets made a big trade for Russell Westbrook and will try to get over the hump and finally make an appearance in the Finals with James Harden. With the Golden State Warriors dealing with injuries and the departure of Kevin Durant (more on them later), the field seems wide open for any team in the west but let’s be honest here, the favorites are the favorites for a reason. The sleeper pick in all this are the Utah Jazz, who many in the media believe have a deep and complete team with great defense, the addition of Mike Conley will allow Donovan Mitchell to play off the ball more and gives them another veteran player with playoff experience.
WHO WILL COME OUT OF THE EASTERN CONFERENCE?
I think most people would agree, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia Sixers are the best teams in the conference and don’t be surprised to see these two teams in the conference finals. The Bucks has the best record in the NBA last season and pretty much bring the same team back, Malcolm Brogdan will be missed but Giannis Antetokounmpo was the MVP of the league and will be great again this season. For the Sixers, everything will rely on the health of Joel Embiid and as long as they have him they will win a bunch of games. The Boston Celtics signed Kemba Walker in free agency and without the turmoil from Kyrie Irving hanging over them, I can see this team pushing the favorites for the best record in the east. To be honest, I really don’t have another team I think can contend for a title but a sleeper I would add is the Indiana Pacers but there are a lot of questions with Victor Oladipo and that changes how good that team can be.
WHAT TO MAKE OF THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS?
For the last four years, the Golden State Warriors were everybody’s pick to win the NBA Finals but that won’t be the case this season. Many in the media believe they might not even make the postseason but I don’t think that will be the case. Stephen Curry will have an MVP type season and will somehow get this team enough wins to make it in. D’Angelo Russell will not be able to replicate the shooting of Klay Thompson, who Steve Kerr stated he didn’t expect back this season, but Russell can score in his own right and will help the team in many ways offensively.
IS RJ BARRETT THE REAL DEAL?
Come on! What kind of Knicks fan would I be if I didn’t add something about them in my NBA column? After watching the Knicks first game yesterday, I must say I was impressed. He was able to get the rim at ease and as knack for taking bumps and continuing to finish. It almost like he wants the contact so he can adjust to get you where he wants you. Mind you, the Knicks lost a good game and played really well after the second half but they looked exhausted In the final minutes to San Antonio Spurs, who took advantage. All in all, not a bad first game to watch and I look forward to see what RJ Barrett play again.