Following an NBA Season full of record-breaking performances and a very active free agency period, the upcoming NBA season has many fans on campus excited about what is to come.
The NBA Tip Off is Oct. 17. For certain teams, expectations are high, and there is little room for error.
“Last year there was a huge gap between the top teams and the rest of the league,” freshman student Louis Zanders said. “A lot of teams got better this off season, so I'm really excited to see how the new player additions will affect the team as a whole.”
The reigning champion Golden State Warriors are coming off of a historic title run, finishing with a 16-1 playoff record, and a 67-15 overall record. Many still consider them to be the favorite to win the championship. They are returning the majority of their championship roster and adding swingman Nick Young, a former Los Angeles Lakers player who averaged 13.2 points per game last season.
“Golden State still has all the pieces to repeat as champions, so I don't see any reason for them not (to),” freshman Russell Harrison said.
The Cleveland Cavaliers took a different approach this offseason. They traded all-star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics, in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and a 2018 first-round draft pick. The Cavaliers also added former All-Star Derrick Rose, and Dwyane Wade, a three-time champion. Wade won two championships while playing with Lebron James with the Miami Heat.
“Wade going to Cleveland changes everything,” freshman Travis Ancion said. “Now James has a teammate he has great chemistry with, and a player who knows how to win down the stretch.”
The gap between Golden State and the rest of the Western Conference has gotten a lot smaller, with the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder both being very aggressive this off season. The Rockets added All-Star point guard Chris Paul to play alongside James Harden. The Thunder acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony via trade — two players who both averaged nearly 25 points per game last season. The Thunder struggled on offense at times last year; those additions will play a big factor.
“Paul George and Carmelo Anthony give the Thunder exactly what they needed to compete against Golden State,” Zanders said. “Star power and tons of scoring.”
Opening Night consists of some marquee games, including the Boston Celtics vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers, with Irving returning to Cleveland as a Boston Celtic. Another big game will be the Los Angeles Clippers facing the Los Angeles Lakers, in which Lonzo Ball, the highly anticipated rookie from UCLA, will make his NBA debut as a member of the Lakers.
“This year’s draft class has brought in tremendous hype, so everyone is really waiting to see if the rookies can deliver,” Harrison said. “But everyone is glad that the season is finally here again.”