By: Kayla Merriweather
After the Golden State Warriors’ emphatic victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals last year, there are various questions arising as the NBA season begins. Will Stephen Curry obtain the title for MVP for the second year in a row? Which Eastern Conference team has amassed enough star power to give the Cavaliers a run for their money? And which rookies will have the biggest impact on their respective teams?
After finishing the 2014-2015 regular season with 286 made three-pointers and leading the Warriors to 67 wins, Stephen Curry won the title of MVP and the NBA Championship. During the preseason, he has continued to exhibit that last season was not a fluke, and that the Warriors will once again be a force to reckoned with. However, if teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, the Houston Rockets, the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Oklahoma City Thunder (to name a few) remain healthy, the Warriors will need to consistently perform at a high level in order to protect their NBA championship.
Last year, the Cavaliers easily reached the NBA Finals due to the weakness of the Eastern Conference. Teams in the Eastern Conference had worse records than teams in the Western Conference, yet they still made the playoffs. For example, the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, both of the Eastern Conference, had respective win-loss records of (40-42) and (38-44) and made the playoffs, while the Thunder, a Western Conference team, missed the playoffs with a record of (45-37). However, the Celtics, New York Knicks, and Philadelphia 76ers have been making conscientious trade and additions to their rosters this offseason. The increased competitiveness should make the fight for playoff spots more interesting.
Notable rookies Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Jahlil Okafor have high expectations set for them. Because of the way the NBA Draft is assembled, teams with the worst records have first priority in picking new players. As a result, pressure falls upon these new faces to turn around flailing franchises. Towns gives the Minnesota Timberwolves the much needed rim protection they need, Russell gives the Los Angeles Lakers a dynamic point guard to play along Kobe Bryant, and Okafor gives the Philadelphia 76ers a center that can actually stay healthy. Each team hopes that the new players they selected will be the building blocks in order to jump start the reconstruction of once reputable franchises.
Throughout the course of the season, incidents like coaching changes, injuries, and other unforeseen mishaps can turn a team upside down. The key to building a strong team capable of withstanding negative consequences is to have multiple talented players that can play well together, instead of one star player that shoulders the weight of the team on his back. With all teams returning reinvigorated from the offseason, this 2015-2016 NBA season should be one to remember.
Featured image courtesy of: isportsweb.com