You might want to go ahead and clear your schedule for the evening of October 16th – if you’re a National Basketball Association (NBA) fan, that is. That’s when the 2018 NBA season tips off with a couple of marquee tilts between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia Sixers, and the Golden State Warriors versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. Here’s a look at what to expect this season, with our NBA picks at the end.
NBA Season Preview: Catching Up on a Busy Offseason
First, a quick look at some of the top storylines from the offseason:
- The Decision – Part 3: LeBron James will be suiting up for the LA Lakers this year after choosing them over the Cavs and various other suitors.
- Kawhi Leonard: When he’s healthy, he can be the best player in the Eastern Conference. But will his health hold up? And will he be motivated to play for the Toronto Raptors after getting shipped there for the last year of his contract?
- Can Carmelo gel? Carmelo Anthony hasn’t exactly worked out for some teams he’s played for (New York Knicks, anyone?). However, the Houston Rockets are hoping he’s the piece they need to take them over the hump in the Western Conference.
NBA Season Predictions: What to Watch for in 2018-19
- Stories to watch: Can the Golden State Warriors three-peat? How far will the Lakers go? Will a LeBron-less Cavs team slip back into mediocrity? What difference will a healthy Kyrie Irving make for Boston? With so many storylines to watch, October 16th can’t get here fast enough.
- Top players: You know the usual suspects – Steph Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook, etc. But we’re looking for some other budding stars to take their game to the next level this season. Keep your eyes open for Denver’s Gary Harris, San Antonio’s Demar DeRozen, Phoenix’s Josh Jackson, Indiana’s Myles Turner, and Minnesota’s Willie Cauley-Stein.
- Top rookies: Rookies in the NBA get harder and harder to judge just based on how young so many of the high draft picks are. That said, we like Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr., Sacramento’s Marvin Bagley, and Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton. Our way too early Rookie of the Year pick, however, goes to Luka Doncic of the Mavericks.
Basketball Picks: Who We Have Winning It All
Curious to know our sports picks for the NBA? Let’s break down the division winners per the NBA standings first:
- Eastern Conference: We like Philadelphia topping Boston in the Atlantic Division, the Bucks taking the Central Division, and Miami coming out of the Southeast. In addition to the three division winners, we like Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Indiana, and Toronto to make the postseason.
- Western Conference: The Warriors look poised to win the Pacific Division, while we like San Antonio coming out of the Southwest Division. The Northwest Division is likely to be more of a toss-up, but Minnesota just might have the edge. With the three division champions, the Lakers, Pelicans, Rockets, Thunder and Jazz are good picks to round out the playoff picture.
In the end, we’re betting that Golden State fends off Houston in the Western Conference semifinals (again) and that Boston puts the pieces together to top the 76ers in the East. We’ll take Golden State to complete the three-peat. As a modern-day NBA dynasty, they’re still too good to pick against. The Warriors’ run will eventually end, but with Curry, Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green still in their primes, we think their window is not quite closed yet.
Image Source: NBA.com