The 2017-2018 NBA season will start a week earlier on October 17. The longer schedule is part of efforts to reduce travel stress and allow players to rest their bodies. Schedules where teams are forced to play 4 games in 5 nights have been completely taken out.
Another change we are going to see is the revamped All-Star Game. The two players who get the most votes from each conference will be captains and they can select their teammates regardless of conference. Five players from each conference, including the captains, will be selected by vote as starters while the remaining 14 reserves, seven from each team, will be picked each conference’s head coaches. The game will also be played for charity which would make it more competitive. But more than these changes, we are also excited to see the following the story plots that will definitely grab headlines this season:
1) The Golden Dynasty – The Golden State Warriors are in Year 2 of their super team experiment. Kevin Durant took a huge annual pay cut, $9 million less to be exact, so that the team could re-sign key players Andre Iguodala and Shawn Livingston. Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, and Draymond Green are still under contract. As if they needed more outside range, the Warriors also signed shooters Omri Casspi and Nick Young. Make no mistake the Warriors are a much stronger team this year and are heavy favorites to win their 2nd straight NBA title.
2) Contenders – Several teams in the Western Conference added elite talent in the offseason with one thing in mind: Take down the Warriors. Oklahoma, surprisingly, was able to acquire star forwards Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to team up with MVP Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul joined James Harden in Houston while the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves brought in Jimmy Butler to join their young guns Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns. All of a sudden, the Warriors don’t look as dominant as before.
3) The Battle of the East – The battle for supremacy in the Eastern Conference became more interesting when the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics traded point guards. Kyrie Irving is now ready to lead the new-look Celtics while Isaiah Thomas is still recuperating from a hip injury. However, LeBron James got more reinforcements in Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose, and Dywane Wade. The Celtics also acquired Gordon Hayward in the offseason. The gap between the two teams has never been closer and for the first time in seven years, we may see a no LeBron Finals.
4) Rookies – This is definitely one of the deepest rookie drafts in the past decade with several players potentially becoming franchise players. Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson, and a host of other young players will soon make an impact with their respective teams. Yes the hype is real.
5) The Process – While they are not as popular as most teams after several years of “tanking” or deliberately losing to get high draft picks, the Philadelphia 76ers are about to turn the corner. 2016’s No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons will finally play after missing last season. Joel Embiid is back from an injury. This year’s No.1 draft pick Markelle Fultz will lead the charge. The 76ers are loaded with young talent and they may just surprise everyone.