An active and high-wheeling free agency this offseason has created excitement, anticipation, resentment and the best storylines imaginable for the serious fan and the soap opera-seeking casual fan looking to engage on social media.
As I study the NBAs somewhat restructured power landscape, there are some scenarios and questions that remain unanswered, but will begin to take shape once tip-off hits tonight when the Kyrie Irving-led Celtics take on LeBron James revamped Cleveland Cavs and the new and improved Houston Rockets take on the defending world champion Golden State Warriors.
Those are the teams that most basketball heads believe will be in the championship mix at the seasons end.
1. Can LeBron replace Kyrie Irving with Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade and get the same results?
Check out the Cleveland Cavaliers’ new trio Derrick Rose, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade show out in LeBron James’ preseason debut against the Chicago Bulls!!! Subscribe to the NBA: http://bit.ly/2rCglzY For news, stories, highlights and more, go to our official website at http://www.nba.com Get NBA LEAGUE PASS: http://www.nba.com/leaguepass
This season will be a simple test of Lebron James true dominance. There are basketball folks who feel like Irving carried LeBron through that 2016 championship and was the true MVP and clutch performer even though King James received all of the credit.
With Irving forcing a trade to the Celtics and Isiah Thomas going from King of the Green Machine to LeBron James even smaller sidekick, some might consider the trade a wash. Add in the driving talents and explosiveness of Derrick Rose and the addition of Brons best buddy in the aging Dwyane Wade, and some might say Cleveland has upgraded.
Thomas is out injured for an extended period of time so only time will tell who got the best of this deal. But rest assured when these guys clash during the season and eventually in the playoffs, it will be more than just a game and theres not a fan in the world who isnt counting the days until that occurs.
Soo who else is waiting for LeBron and Kyrie to battle it out in the Eastern Conference Finals?? https://t.co/0UtVgNo8Tw
2. Will LeBron suck it up and play opening night against Kyrie Irving?
There are reports that King James is nursing an ankle injury and might sit out opening night against his new arch rival Irving and the Eastern Conference regular season defending champion Celtics. He better not.
The way Irving dissed his name and bounced on Cleveland and threw more shade than a Tsunami breeze on Bron without ever actually speaking to or publicly acknowledging the NBAs finest talent has added a totally different dimension to these meetings.
I couldn’t imagine Kobe or MJ or Isiah Thomas using a tweaked ankle as an excuse to miss a chance to stuff a basketball down the throat of a guy that totally deserves some act-right. LeBron’s never missed an opening night and has had some memorable ones.
The BEST of @KingJames on opening night through the years! 8pm/et @NBAonTNT: @Celtics/@Cavs #KiaTipOff17 https://t.co/RxyvdlAR2C
3. How will CP3 and James Harden mesh?
Houston has been knocking on the door of the NBAs elite teams and Harden has firmly established himself as a perennial NBA MVP candidate. The addition of future Hall of Famer CP3 should take some of the offensive burden off Harden and relieve the control freak of some of his ball handling duties.
There’s no doubt Paul adds another dimension to Houston, but will it be enough defensively to get them past an improved Western Conference led by juggernaut Golden State ?
4. Can Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George do big things?
OKC is the most intriguing team to me. Westbrook got the Thunder into the playoffs by averaging the second triple-double in NBA history and winning his first NBA MVP Award. The addition of two All-star players in Paul George, who was the man in Indiana, and Carmelo Anthony, who has been the man everywhere hes played, including a stint in New York that would crush the desire to hoop for most veterans in the twilight of their career, all of a sudden puts OKC on the radar.
Check out the Oklahoma City Thunder’s electric trio of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George combine for a total of 55 points in their NBA Preseason victory over the Denver Nuggets!!!!
George gets to compete on a high level as he prepares to make a move to LA in free agency, Melo gets to prove what he can do on a real team before he retires and Westbrook, who is married to OKC, gets to make another title run before he’s left for dolo again.
These three guys are offensive, multi-faceted terrors on the hardwood and mismatch nightmares.The shots are going to be flying and the possibilities are intriguing for this mystery group.
5. Is there any possible way Golden State doesnt win it all this year?
No. Splash Brothers are still the NBAs premier backcourt. KD is the X-Factor.
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6. Will Lonzo Ball the real deal right out the shoot?
Lonzo has looked a bit slow to me when I caught him in his preseason opener. Interested to see if he will have a Magic Johnson kind of rookie season or the lack of talent and abundance of youth on the Lakers will create problems and chemistry kinks for LA in his first season.
His leadership will be tested right way and he will be a target of veteran players and young guns looking to make a name for themselves against the most hyped, celebrated and media-captivating player in the NBA.
WeLoveLA RT “#Lakers Lonzo Ball says he is “playing for sure” on Opening Night this Thursday. https://t.co/f0nKXtKrj5″ #SportsRoadhouse https://t.co/Po0WeFRLc3
Finals Pick: Golden State over the Cavs
MVP: Stephen Curry
Rookie of the Year: Lonzo Ball