NBA season 70 promises to be another exciting one. Storylines abound as many teams have reloaded to get to the top of the heap. Several marquee players are also returning to action after injuries last season. The Rookie Class of 2015, meanwhile, is among the most talented in recent history. Here are the top storylines to watch out for:
1) Will the Warriors repeat? In the off-season following their NBA title, the Golden State Warriors were disrespected. Rival players and commentators stated that the Warriors had an easy time to their first championship in forty years. Los Angeles Clippers Coach Doc Rivers touched a nerve when he said that you need luck to reach the Finals quipping “Look at Golden State, they didn’t have to play us or the Spurs.” This was underscored by the fact the Cleveland Cavaliers played without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in the NBA Finals. In a recent survey of NBA General Managers, Golden State placed 3rd behind the Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs as favorites to win the championship. This despite bringing back their championship core. Reigning MVP Steph Curry said he will use this as fuel to build the Warriors dynasty. We’ll just have to wait and see.
2) The Stars Return. Former MVP’s Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant are back and so is 5-time champion Kobe Bryant. Rose aims to lead a reloaded Chicago Bulls that boasts of a lot of depth and a new coach. The Bulls look to be Cleveland’s primary rival to come out of the East. A healthy Kevin Durant, meanwhile, makes the Thunder favorites to win it all. The Thunder also have a new coach in Billy Donovan who is a master in maximizing player contributions. At 37 years old and entering his 20th season, Bryant is still chasing Michael Jordan’s legacy of being the Greatest Of All-Time. However, this window looks closed. Still, Bryant will leave an impressive legacy once he retires.
3) Can the King be Crowned in Cleveland? LeBron James continues to be the king of storylines. As the best player in the world, he is surrounded by intense speculation and expectation and this year is no different. James fell two games short of bringing home Cleveland’s first ever NBA title. Despite his heroics, his one-man attack was no match for the balanced offensive of Golden State. This just might be his year since never before in his career has he been surrounded with so much talent.
4) Spurs in Transition. The winningest franchise in professional sports the past 16 years is now in transition as a new generation of players takes over from the old. Tim Duncan (39), Manu Ginobili (38), and Tony Parker (33) are handing over the reins to Kawhi Leonard and the newly acquired LaMarcus Aldridge. They hand over a franchise that prides itself in teamwork and an egalitarian culture that is being copied all over the league. Leonard and Aldridge usher in a new era for the Spurs, a team that has won five titles since 1999.
5) Free Agents/Max Deals. The NBA completed a deal with ESPN and TNT for coverage amounting to $24 billion from 2014-2024. This means that television revenues are about to surge. Player salaries are expected to follow suit. The salary cap for 2015-2016 has increased by 11% to an all-time high of $70 million. It is estimated the following year; the cap could reach as high as $100 million. What does this mean? Every team in the league now has chance to bid for a marquee superstar. Money will be no object.