Top 3 Storylines for the 2018/19 NBA Season

Will Locklin, Staff Writer

LA-Bron and the ‘Showtime” Lakers:  Since Lebron James announced that he would take his talents to Los Angeles, there’s been an equal amount of excitement and doubt.  On the one hand, “The King” is coming off his 15th season in which he put up career numbers. He played in all 82 games while leading the NBA in minutes per game; he averaged career highs in assists (9.1) and rebounds (8.6) while notching 18 triple-doubles.  Additionally, he carried an inferior Cavaliers roster to the NBA Finals. The roster around him this year is filled with talented young players and misfit veterans. Lonzo Ball has been an intriguing player due to his father Lavar Ball spewing some blasphemous takes on his son.  However, as a player, he is a naturally gifted playmaker and has the potential to be a great defender due to his size. Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are the other two young players that can develop into stars. Ingram has unbelievable length, and a high ability to get to the basket and finish.  Kyle Kuzma is a pure scorer who is an outstanding shot creator and can space the floor very well. The most intriguing thing about this Lakers team is the role players they signed this offseason. Rajon Rondo, Javale McGee, and Lance Stephenson are all gritty veterans with playoff experience, but they have a kind of oddball personality that can hinder their team chemistry.  To say the least, it will be fascinating to watch this year’s Lakers team.

The MVP Race:  The race for MVP this season is shaping up to be a wild ride.  The favorites are Lebron James, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard.  Lebron James has been the best player in the NBA for most of the past decade, but he hasn’t won MVP since 2013.  The reality is Lebron James is trying to catch Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time and considering that he didn’t sign with a contending team and the Golden State Warriors still have a star filled roster, a championship seems out of the picture.  However MVP could be a likely scenario, the MVP is partially built on narratives and hype which Lebron brings plenty of. Pairing Lebron James with the Lakers could build enough hype to garner MVP consideration, especially if the Lakers win games. Anthony Davis and Giannis have both been called basketball prodigies and are incredibly young and talented.  Both have had a terrific seasons but have lacked the team success to win the MVP. The case for Davis is that he is just entering his prime and he can put up extraordinary stats this year. On the other hand, Giannis is in the weaker conference so the Bucks can put up more wins than the Pelicans. Additionally, Giannis is an unstoppable scorer due to his height and wingspan.  If his shooting can improve then he will clearly be in the MVP conversation. Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard should be considered dark horses put both have solid cases. Kyrie is in the far easier conference (eastern conference), and is surrounded by one of the best supporting casts. Additionally, his coach Brad Stevens is one of the best in the game and can help Kyrie develop his playmaking and defensive skills.  Kawhi Leonard has been a Finals MVP and two time defensive player of the year. He was traded from the Spurs to the Raptors this past offseason so he is now in the eastern conference and has a solid supporting cast. Furthermore he is far into his prime athletic years and is still regarded as one of the best two way players in basketball. All in all the race for NBA MVP will be an entertaining storyline to follow during the season.  

Can anyone give the warriors a run:  The Golden State Warriors have won the last 3 out of 4 NBA titles.  The last two with the services of Kevin Durant. This year not only are everyone of note coming back, but DeMarcus Cousins joins this already stacked roster.  He is coming off an Achilles tear so he will not play until midway through the season. The health of Cousins could determine how difficult it will be to dethrone the Warriors.  Last year a formula was put out to beat the Warriors. The Houston Rockets pushed them to 7 games, and if Chris Paul hadn’t been injured, they might have won the series. Chris Paul averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in the first five games of the series.  As a result, the Rockets were up three games to two on the Warriors and then Paul got injured in game 5. To beat the Warriors you can’t beat them at their own game which is shooting, but you can disrupt the way they play. The Rockets had a combination of two superstar level players, a lot of 3 point snipers, and great defensive role players that matched up well with Golden State.  This year the Celtics might have the blueprint to contend with the warriors. Brad Stevens is widely regarded as an excellent coach and has elevated many players abilities during his career. Talent wise the Celtics have stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, but the X-factor will be Jayson Tatum. Last years the league was witness Tatums flashes of greatness and if he can take more steps forward than he will be the third star the Celtics need.  The rest of the roster is filled with tenacious role players. Jaylen Brown is a suped up 3 and D player and Al Horford brings a lot of rim protection and leadership. Off the bench, Marcus Smart brings heart and passion that few players play within today’s game, Terry Rozier showed star potential while Kyrie was hurt, and Marcus Morris is a rough rider who is tough and will do whatever it takes to win. The Celtics have the talent, coaching and depth the compete with the Warriors this year.  Every playoff team either has the ability or coaching but not both that the blueprint to beating the Warriors requires.