It’s that time of year again, time for some NBA Basketball on TNT with Marv Albert announcing. God, it gives me goosebumps just thinking about that. Technically, the first games were on Oct. 16, but it’s still early enough in the season to make some predictions.
Unfortunately, I don’t like where the Timberwolves organization is going. The whole Jimmy Butler situation is tearing the team apart from the inside. I love the max deal signed by star center Karl-Anthony Towns. However, if these Butler shenanigans continue, I’m afraid this team isn’t suited for the playoffs. We almost missed the playoffs last year when he was actually content. It took a scrappy last regular season game win against the Denver Nuggets for us to secure the last playoff spot in the West, absolutely pathetic given the talent on our roster.
I’m not here to just talk about the Timberwolves. This season is going to be good, but let’s look back to where we left off. LeBron James left Cleveland (to nobody’s surprise) and signed a 4-year, max deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Golden State Warriors somehow got better, and Jayson Tatum looked like the future of the NBA in the conference finals. Ben Simmons is still considered the next LeBron, and Joel Embiid’s trash talking didn’t go away. (I hate the Sixers, just going to say that.) Many teams improved heavily, such as the Nuggets, Jazz, Suns, Raptors and Lakers. (Notice how all but one of these teams are in the West.) The East only has about three real title contenders. Those teams being the Sixers, Celtics and Raptors. On the other side, the Western Conference has gotten much better. Golden State might not actually make the finals this year. (Although they probably still will.)
Time for some NBA Basketball on TNT with Marv Albert announcing.
I think it’s crazy how unstable the conferences are. There are only a couple select teams in the West that you could argue won’t make the playoffs. Of the 15 teams in the conference, I would say other than the Mavericks, Grizzlies, Clippers and Kings, any of the teams could potentially make the playoffs. Now, look at the East. Who besides the Sixers, Celtics and Raptors is going to compete for a title in the East? The answer is no one because the East is awful. The West is the president while the East is the vice president. It’s very similar to the NFC and AFC in the NFL. The NFC is far more superior to the AFC.
I think the team that perhaps improved the most would be the Denver Nuggets. Let’s start with the fact that they stole Michael Porter Jr. with the 14th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Porter was considered the top pick heading into the 2017 college basketball season. However, injuries caused him to miss lots of games during his freshman season at Missouri. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a long-time starter. Nikola Jokic will pick up where he left off last season as one of the best centers in the league. I think Jamal Murray will break the 20 points a game barrier this year, and Gary Harris is a young star who’s a lights out shooter. The scary part about this team is that all these players I mentioned are under 25 years old. The Nuggets will be good this year and for many years to come.
I am going to talk a little bit about the Timberwolves just because that’s what everyone wants to hear. This has been a roller coaster of an offseason for Minnesota. As I already mentioned, we signed Karl-Anthony Towns to a fat contract, but Jimmy Butler continues to cause problems. It seems like he’s actually going to play, but after his practice affair with Towns and Andrew Wiggins, I feel like things won’t be the same. We drafted Josh Okogie with our first round pick this year, a shooting guard out of Georgia Tech. Until I see him contribute, I’ll probably consider him a late-round NBA pick whose name disappears from the face of the earth. All of this and a more challenging Western Conference, I don’t see the Timberwolves making the playoffs. It’s sad that we barely make the playoffs for the first time since 2004 only to follow it up by not making the playoffs. It’s the most “Timberwolves” thing that could happen.
In a perfect world, it will be the Warriors and the Celtics in the 2019 NBA Finals. The NBA has proven that it can be a perfect world too. The last four finals have been between Cleveland and Golden State. Now that LeBron’s gone from Cleveland, it will certainly change in the East. I think the Warriors are still too dominant not to make the finals again. This isn’t like the NFL where the Super Bowl participants, for the most part, are quite unpredictable. The NBA is actually very predictable. I am excited to see yet another NBA season kick off.