With the summer league wrapping up and the Lakers winning the Las Vegas Summer League championship, it is now time to look at which teams will be the best in each conference when regular season play begins in October.
Though the Lakers are trending in the right direction with second overall pick Lonzo Ball, winning the summer league most valuable player award, the Lakers probably will not be a real contender during the 2017-18 regular season.
However, they will be an interesting and exciting team to watch.
Ball could have a breakout rookie year and could have between 10 and 15 triple doubles in his rookie season. His vision to see the entire court is amazing and rarely seen in such a young player. With the way he passes the ball, I expect him to average double digits in assists.
Very seldom do you find a player whose first instinct is to help his teammates and get others involved. Ball seems to care more about that than racking up his own points. Points will not be a huge factor for Ball because he will be filling out the stat sheet in every other category.
Do not get it twisted, he can score, too. Will that be enough for this young team? I don’t think so but with Magic Johnson in the front office and Luke Walton as the head coach, the fans will be showing up in support of their Lakers and with the intention that their team will soon be back on top.
The team that is the sole reason for all of the movement among players in the league right now, the Golden State Warriors, will look fairly similar to the team that won the NBA championship a month ago.
Superstars Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant resigned with the team. Durant took a major pay cut and Curry finally received the deal he has deserved for years now.
He was the highest-paid player in league history with his $201 million deal until the ridiculous extension the Houston Rockets gave to their start point guard, James Harden. The Warriors made it their priority to resign one of the best sixth men, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston. That was very critical especially since there were a number of teams trying to lure Iguodala away.
They also signed Nick Young, who I believe will flourish under this system. With the players he will be surrounded by, he will be an extra dangerous shooter coming off the bench behind Curry and Klay Thompson. This will be a harder team to beat next year.
Many teams will looking different when the season starts in October. All-Star players moving from the Eastern to the Western Conference include Paul George, who was traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder for next to nothing. He’s paired with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.
That will be an interesting duo to watch, but how long will it last? Westbrook has not signed an extension and George is only under contract for one year.
Jimmy Butler was traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They also signed Taj Gibson and point guard Jeff Teague, two complementary additions to a roster that has undergone significant improvement.
The Los Angeles Clippers lost their star point guard Chris Paul to the Rockets, but were able to resign star power forward Blake Griffin. Top free agent, Paul Millsap, decided to leave the Atlanta Hawks and signed a $90 million contract with the Denver Nuggets.
While it seems all players are moving to the Western Conference, Gordon Hayward did the opposite. He decided to take his talents to the Boston Celtics. The Utah Jazz thanked him for the time he spent with them, but many fans did not have the same feelings and could be found burning his jersey. I never understood burning merchandise when a player leaves for a new team because it was your hard-earned money that paid for it in the first place.
While the Celtics visibly improved, the rest of the East looks fairly the same or a lot worse than last year. The Cleveland Cavaliers, for one, have not made any major moves. I’m sure LeBron James is not happy with where his team is going.
They’re future is in limbo with the rumors James may leave next year. If James leaves, we can expect Kyrie Irving to leave as well.
Quite frankly, they are no longer the feared team and they appear to now be falling apart.
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.