Can anyone beat the Warriors?
The NBA as of late has been predictable in terms of who is going to make it to the NBA Finals. Last year, there was some uncertainty as to whether the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers would make the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season. Needless to say, whatever uncertainty there was vanished with injuries to both the Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets, whom lost Chris Paul when the Rockets were up 3 games to 2 against the Warriors.
This season will be much different. On paper, the Golden State Warriors are better than everybody else because of their starting lineup. Their starting lineup will eventually end up being Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Demarcus Cousins. They have a lineup consisting of all all-stars. On paper, they are great, but we have to see how they will fit together especially since Cousins will not return until after the All-Star break. Cousins tore his achillies last season. Beside Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors do not have much depth in their rotation.
Although the Warriors seem better than any team in the NBA on paper, there are two teams that can give them a run for their money: the Boston Celtics, and, yes, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Boston Celtics have far and away the best bench in the NBA. They have at least three or four guys on their bench that could be starters on other teams. They have unselfish guys who are willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team. Their starting five matches up well with Golden State’s. They can switch 1-5 because they are mostly long, athletic wings who are no scrubs on defense.
With the addition of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, their offense is only going to get better. In the playoffs, they went through struggled to get baskets at times. Their defense was not the problem, it was getting to score when they needed it the most. To be quite frank, Hayward and Irving will help take off the pressure of the young guys, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The addition will open the floor up for everyone and, well, that is going to be scary.
My sleeper pick in terms of contenders is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Carmelo Anthony clearly was not fitting in with what they wanted to do schematically as a team. Just by getting rid of him, they improved as a team. The additions of Dennis Schroder and Nerlens Noel is something to keep your eye on. Nerlens Noel fits in with the style of play the Thunder want to play, which is a fast-paced, get up the floor type game. I think Noel will catch many lobs from Westbrook and Schroder.
Now, the Houston Rockets were very close to defeating the Golden State Warriors last season. They did get worse over the offseason by losing Trevor Ariza and Mbah a Moute in free agency. Trevor Ariza was an important piece into trying to dethrone the Warriors. His loss will be felt, mostly on the defensive end.
The NBA season tipped off on October 16th with its first game being the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup, the Philadelphia 76ers against the Boston Celtics at 8 p.m. followed by Russell Westbrook and the OKC Thunder taking on Kevin Durant and the defending champion, Golden State Warriors.
Leslie Roda, a senior, studies English. She is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.