Love, Hate And Can’t Wait: What To Look Forward To In The Upcoming Season

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Love, Hate And Can’t Wait: What To Look Forward To In The Upcoming Season

 

What an offseason. All of those rumors became realities. Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Paul George, Isaiah Thomas, and Carmelo Anthony were all traded in a three-month span. Madness. With so many teams entering this campaign with new faces, it’s going to be one of the more exciting regular seasons in recent memory. I’m going to write about the few teams and players I feel strongest about, those who will let down the fans and the others who will shock the association.

 

The Team I Love: The Washington Wizards will be the two seed in the Playoffs. This will finally be the year where John Wall gets the recognition and love he deserves after he leads DC to the Eastern Conference Finals, shocking the Boston Celtics. Wall has been and will continue to be the most athletic and talented point guard in the Eastern Conference. Bradley Beal, if healthy, is one of the most lethal scorers in the game, while Otto Porter will make some noise and join the Most Improved Player conversation. While their bench remains lackluster, Scott Brooks has the experience needed to coach this team to the next level. I also expect Cleveland and Boston to struggle early in the season with their revamped rosters and need to rediscover chemistry. Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford may be fantastic, but Washington’s Big Three is nothing to mess with.

 

The Player I Love: Kevin Love will return to the Minnesota Kevin Love and re-solidify himself as one of basketball’s elite big men. We all knew a dropoff from production was inevitable when Love became the third option to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. With Kyrie Irving out and Isaiah Thomas missing the first half of the season probably, Kevin Love will have the opportunity to shine with the new-look Cavaliers. Ty Lue is playing small ball this season, moving Kevin Love to the center slot, starting Jae Crowder at the four and putting Tristan Thompson with the second unit. Love will finally break 20 PPG with Cleveland and (get ready for it) lead basketball in rebounds per game. As the second option to LeBron James, he will take advantage of his opportunity in the regular season (but maybe disappear in the Finals like usual).

 

The Team I Hate: Last season, Mike D’Antoni conducted a rocket science experiment down in Houston, successfully making James Harden the most productive (yet far from efficient) point guard in basketball. Bravo D’Antoni, but Chris Paul mixed in with James Harden? That is a disaster waiting to happen. Houston elected to trade away too many vital role players in Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell to get the future hall-of-famer. I just don’t see two guys who are use to being ball-hogging point guards thrive together. This team lacks depth, defense and chemistry. The Rockets won’t make it out of the first round and Chris Paul will consider leaving in the 2018 offseason.

 

The Player I Hate: This is a tough one for me cause I expected bigger things from this guy when he came into the league. D’Angelo Russell will have one of the most inefficient seasons in recent memory, scoring 14 PPG, shooting under 40% and leading his team in turnovers. It made sense for Brooklyn to trade for him since he has the talent and the flair, but I just don’t trust him as a lead dog at age 21. He is being overdrafted in fantasy, specifically dynasty setups, and has never shown the consistency the Lakers expected when they took him over the likes of Kristaps Porzingis. While I expect him to be a better player in the next few season, Russell will struggle in Brooklyn until they draft one or two proper rookies.

 

The Team I Can’t Wait For: One of the more interesting stories last season involved the Miami Heat, who started their season losing 30 of their first 41 games, then won 30 of their last 41 games to finish at 41-41 and just missing the playoffs. The second half of the season showed the brilliance of an Erik Spoelstra to combine Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic with a set of unwanted or unknown players, sparking unwarranted success. Miami became the only team in NBA history to reach .500 after being at least 19 games under in the same season. They had one of the league’s best defenses and best bench production over the last half of the season. Dion Waiters and James Johnson were both brought in on one year prove it deals and earned their way to big contracts with the Heat this offseason. They also fixed their power forward situation by dumping Josh McRoberts and Luke Babbitt and upgrading to Kelly Olynyk and rookie Bam Adebayo. Miami will flirt with the fifty win mark and ultimately win a playoff series. All Heat fans, including myself, have a lot to look forward if the Heat start this season like how they ended last season.

 

The Player I Can’t Wait For: The Denver Nuggets will head into the season as one of the more underrated teams in basketball. Pairing Nikola Jokic with Paul Millsap was a great move and will pay dividends. However, sophomore Jamal Murray will some of the spotlight from Jokic and Millsap, while establishing himself as one of the most deadly shooters in the league. I hope coach Mike Malone decides to start Murray and Gary Harris together over Emmanuel Mudiay and Will Barton, because Murray will slowly but surely takeover this backcourt this season. The shooting guard out of Kentucky will look like a more complete player and impress everyone with 17 PPG on over 40% shooting from three.

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