It’s that time of year again. One of the most popular sports in the United States is back for the 2018-19 season. Some of the more discussed topics this year include; Kawhi Leonard joining Toronto, the effect DeMarcus Cousins will have on the already stacked Golden State Warriors, and will Carmelo Anthony give the Rockets the edge they need to beat the Warriors. But the most prominent topic on the minds of NBA fans is the question, “Will Lebron James make the Lakers great again?” The 2018-19 season is the first time we see Lebron James in the Western Conference, playing against stellar teams. This leaves the Eastern Conference in desperate need of a new face.
As of now, the Los Angeles Lakers have a record of 7-6. Their first win came against the Denver Nuggets, and the second against a struggling Phoenix Suns. They lost against Houston and San Antonio, but managed to be competitive. There’s no doubting the talent of Lebron James, one of the most iconic athletes of this generation. This early struggle isn’t a reflection of how the Lakers will play later in the season, and over time they will establish team chemistry. That chemistry must be in order if they hope to compete in the west against the likes of the Utah Jazz and the Golden State Warriors.
The hometown Knicks currently sit twelveth in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 4-10. With star power forward Kristaps Porzingis not returning from his brutal knee injury until at least February, many Knicks fans are left dreaming of the day when their team will return to prominence. The only decent news for Knicks fans is the team’s recruitment of Golden State Warriors player Kevin Durant.
This is all but a fantasy as of now for Knicks fans. Kevin Durant, who currently finds himself in the first year of a two-year $53 million dollar contract with the Golden State Warriors, has recently stated publicly he will opt out of his contract after the 2018-2019 season. This would make him the most sought after player during the next offseason.
While on the subject of the Golden State Warriors, they are currently exactly where everyone expected them to be. They’re still the powerhouse of the NBA, with an abundance of talent that has dominated the league in the last four seasons and is currently sitting on top of the Western Conference with a 11-2 record. Their only loss came from the Nuggets, in a tight 100-98 loss at Denver.
This off season the Warriors broke many NBA fans hearts when the team announced the signing of center Demarcus Cousins to a one-year, 5.3 million dollar contract. He’s coming off a season ending achilles injury, which made signing him an absolute no brainer. This will address what many fans and basketball analysts considered to be the Warriors’ biggest weakness; the lack of a dominant big man. The acquisition of Cousins will go one of two ways: Either he will be a shadow of his former self and not contribute much, or he will return to be the dominant center he once was in Sacramento and New Orleans. The scary part is that the Warriors have all the time in the world before they will need the assistance of Demarcus Cousins. Many believe the coaching staff will allow Cousins to recover and release him during the next playoffs when he’s 100 percent healthy. If you’re anyone but a Warriors fan, you probably hope this isn’t the case.
The Eastern Conference is currently missing Lebron James, who has joined a star happy Western Conference with players likes of Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. There are many eager and talented teams from the east who could contend for an NBA championship this year, such as the undefeated Milwaukee Bucks, the Toronto Raptors and most intriguingly, the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics will be an interesting team to watch this season. Gordon Hayward has returned to Boston, and fans will be curious about how he will contribute to the team. After his agonizing injury at the beginning of last season, the Celtics are finally at full potential and ready to pick up where they left off. Their last season ended when they were eliminated from the Eastern conference finals by a Cleveland Cavaliers team lead by Lebron James. Now with the absence of Lebron James in the east, in addition to the talent in their starting five, there’s no doubt the Boston Celtics are one of the favorites to win the East.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the NBA standings, the Cleveland Cavaliers have recently parted ways with coach Tyronn Lue after a disappointing 0-6 record to start the season. This is a bit of a surprise since Lue once lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA championship in 2016 after a 3-1 comeback against the Golden State Warriors, and made four NBA Finals appearances. But there’s no doubt the lack of a presence like Lebron James is being felt in Cleveland. They have unfortunately resorted back to what they were before Lebron joined the team. They’re once again back to mediocrity.
It’s too early in the season to predict the outcome of playoffs, as many teams have not truly worked out team chemistry that could propel them to deep playoff contention. But as of right now, the Gold State Warriors are as dominant as before (No surprise), while eastern teams will figure out in the upcoming months which of them will be the new face of the Eastern Conference.