Welcome To NBA Training Camp
It seems like just the other day that the Golden State Warriors dusted off the Cleveland Cavaliers for their second title in three years. Ready or not, NBA training camps are set to open this week, and it’s time for a quick overview of what to expect when the first ball goes up.
With so many trades and free agent moves going down in the NBA this past off season, even hardcore fans might need to catch up on the action. Here are a few of the most interesting story lines to following when training camps opens at the end of September.
The Eastern Conference
Where else to begin out East than with the Cavaliers, the three time defending conference champs and a team with a decidedly different look than the last time we saw them. With Kyrie Irving gone and the injury uncertainty surrounding his replacement Isaiah Thomas, it becomes a question of whether or not Lebron James and his assistant coach Tyronn Lue can bring a troop of newcomers together in time to fend off the hard charging Boston Celtics.
Speaking of the Celtics, they’re all in for an immediate championship run after mortgaging a big part of their future for the offensive wizardry of sidekick-cum-superstar leader Kyrie Irving. Danny Ainge paid a high cost for a player who’s yet to prove himself outside of LBJ’s long shadow and it’s far from clear that second tier star Gordon Hayward justifies the chemistry that left along with Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder.
Elsewhere in the east, Kristin Porzingis looks confused and the Knicks are aimless again, while John Wall and Bradley Beal need a deep postseason run to become indisputably legitimate. Lastly, Milwaukee and Toronto look to be teams passing each other by, with the Bucks trending upward and the Raptors contemplating a closing window of opportunity.
The Western Conference
One of the most intriguing questions in the West involves the Houston Rockets and their superstar duo of Chris Paul and James Harden. How well they coexist will go a long way toward determining their chances against teams like San Antonio and Oklahoma City as they vie for a shot the Warriors in the conference finals.
Speaking of the Warriors, barring truly catastrophic injuries it’s hard to imagine anyone beating this otherworldly team four times our of season. The only conceivable training camp problem for the Warriors seems to be staying interested.
But two interesting story lines intersect in Los Angeles. This could be the middle of the end for the Doc Rivers/DeAndre Jordan/Blake Griffin triumvirate for the Clippers, while the Lakers look to keep Lonzo Ball in the spotlight and his father out of it while they bide their time waiting for Paul George and other superstar reinforcements.