Have things ever been this crazy?
The NBA is changing its rules, some of the biggest names in the league are starting with thier new teams, rivalries and petty grudges are making headlines, national controversey is taking the stage, all while a brand new season of basketball kicks off in just 13 days.
Every season beings about questions, but have we ever seen this much going on at once? This upcoming seaosn could bring about the best period of NBA basketball the world has ever seen. And in light of this crazy new season kicking off in less than two weeks, here are seven burning questions heading into the 2017-18 season:
Can the Celtics Take Control of the East?
LeBron James isn't considered one of the greatest of All-Time for no reason. Among other things, LeBron is considered so good because he's basically controlled the East for the past 7 years.
And while there have been many challengers to his streak in that span, have any of them been more of a threat than this years Celtics? After getting destroyed in the Conference Finals last season, te Celtics responded by signing Gordon Hayward and trading for Kyrie Irving, all while keeping most of the core intact.
But the Cavaliers recovered well from thier abysmal summer, replacing Kyrie with Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, and Dwyane Wade. The question for the Celtics heading into this new season, as it has been for the past seven years, is whether or not they have enough. Do they have enough to finally take control of the East, or will LeBron James again prove to be too much?
Either way, the dominance of LeBron and the Cavs has to stop at some point... right?
Will the Thunder Stay Together?
Perhaps the only team that had a better summer than the Celtics was the Oklahoma City Thunder, who acquired both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in blockbuster trade deals. By the time Melo arrived, the Thunder's expectations were already at an all-time high.
But even as good as the Thunder look, things could be very different in a year. Both PG13 and Carmelo are Free-Agents next summer, and neither of them actually chose the Thunder to begin with. Sadly for the folks in Oklahoma City, its entirely possible that one, or even both, of their superstars walk out of town in ten months. With Westbrook locked up until 2023, he may be the only one left to pick up the pieces.
No doubt, if OKC has a fantastic year, everyone will be more inclined stay. If they don't, however, the Thunder could end up right back where they started when Kevin Durant left in 2016.
How Much Does LeBron Have Left?
In NBA.com's annual GM survey, LeBron James was named the MVP favorite to land this season's MVP award. For any other 32-year old, that would seem like a stretch. For the King though, it's likely to become reality.
For the past 14 years, LeBron James has been dominating the NBA. He hasn't slowed down too much yet, but (as every athlete evntually finds out) Father Time is undefeated. There will come a day when James will get too old to wear his crown. It could be this year, it could be in five years. Either way, LeBron can't do it forever.
This upcoming season could end with LeBron as the MVP (as the NBA GMs so humbly predicted), or it could end with another player reigning atop the basketball world. We'll have to wait and see.
How Far Can the Pelicans Fly?
Let's look at the Western Conference for a minute. There's some obviously good teams, like Golden State, San Antonio, and OKC. There's also some obviously bad teams, like Phoenix, Dallas, and Sacramento.
And then there are the Pelicans, who's place in the West is about as unknown as the weather on Mars.
Towards the end of last season, we saw a little bit of what the Cousins/Davis duo could bring. With those two leading the frontcourt, New Orleans controlled the paint every game. Even with that being the case, it always takes some times to adjust, and the two superstar big men failed to get the Pels into the playoffs, even though they had a solid chance.
With more time to prepare, and to adjust to the new roster, one would expect the Pelicans to be a legitimate threat out West... until you realize how stacked the Conference really is. How do they stack up against all these new superteams?
Ultimately he Pelicans are a talented team, but that doesn't mean they wont go home in the first round.
Trust the Process?
Sixers ex-GM Sam Hinkie got fired for his method on rebuilding the 76ers. It was long, awful, and just bad for the game of basketball.
But to his credit, it may have actually worked. Having earned several lottery picks the past few seasons, the Sixers have assembled a pretty impressive bunch of young players. Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, those guys could make some real noise in the East.
There's just one problem: injury. Both Simmons and Embiid have missed entire seasons due to significant injury. And as nice as the other players on the roster are, everything revolves around those two.
"The Process" looks to be paying off in Philadelphia... for now. But if just one piece of that essential young core fails to stay healthy, it could bring down the entire operation.
Can the Warriors Be Beaten?
It sounds like this question has been asked for forver. I mean, geez, the Warriors have controlled the league so much over the past few years, it might be hard for some to remember a time when they weren't so big-shot.
So after winning the 2017 Championship, nobody could have expected the Warriors to get any better this summer. Yet, they somehow did, with the adidtions of Nick Young and Omri Caspi. That's right, the Dubs got better.
There's no weakness to their game, no hole on thier roster, no part of that elite team does not fit. They may be the greatest team ever.
But "superteams" having the same core for this long has caused problems over the course of league history. Teams evntually figure out how to beat you, or some incident on the team shakes up the chemistry.
On paper, the Champs are well on thir way to a repeat. In real life, well, things never last forever.
Will NBA Players Take A Knee?
The United States has, admittedly, seen better days. There's so much going on in the country, it's almost impossible for the world's greatest athletes to not get involved.
In the NFL, players are showing their discourse with the state of the country by taking a knee during the national anthem, a move many have deemed disrespectful.
On the flip side, many around the country praise these guys for bringing awareness to the racial injustices and prejudices they believe are prevelant in today's American society.
While no NBA player has been seen taking a knee yet (it is just pre-season), the league's biggest stars have already expressed their support in favor of the NFL athletes that do.
It is also true that NBA commissioner Adam Silver made it clear that league rules require all players to stand.
Nothing's happened yet on that front. But come the regular season, nobody should be shocked if pro-ball players decide to kneel anyway.