By Jeremiah Bonnet (Basketball Correspondent)
New faces in new places. This upcoming NBA season is going to be interesting due to some significant roster changes this offseason.
A handful of notable Eastern Conference players moved to the West this offseason, intriguing NBA fans. The Western Conference is going to be interesting to watch, for the competition bar has raised to another level.
The Eastern Conference made moves; however, the Celtics-Cavaliers matchup is what basketball fans should look forward to for the next couple of seasons. Both teams improved, yet most other Eastern Conference teams either got worse, or remained at the same level from last season.
“This season is going to be one for the books,” says junior Sergio Ripley, “I’m excited to see how the Western Conference will play out, considering the number of All Stars that went to the West.”
The first big move in the Western Conference was the Houston/Los Angeles trade, sending Chris Paul to the Rockets, joining James Harden to form a Western Conference powerhouse.
While the Rockets let go of Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, Chris Paul provides a veteran floor general who will take some pressure off of Harden.
Are the Rockets a Western Conference contender? They are arguably the second best team in the West. The Spurs remained the same, while the Thunder have not proven any success thus far.
Houston let go of their bench, so they are not very deep, but their offensive firepower will compensate… hopefully.
Then comes the Thunder. One of the two major moves they made, was acquiring small forward, Paul George. Westbrook needed help. While a repeat from last season would certainly be entertaining, Westbrook wants to win.
Junior Ben Kaplan says that it may be the best move of the offseason. “Paul George is a legitimate superstar. Westbrook was able to carry the Thunder to the sixth seed last season. George is a solid pickup, and the wins will start rolling in Oklahoma City.”
George adds a second scoring option, as well as a perimeter defensive presence. With a strong offensive Western Conference, defense is going to be a necessity for the Thunder this season, if they wish to contend for a Conference title.
In addition to George, the Thunder acquired small forward/power forward Carmelo Anthony. Both the Knicks and Thunder won this trade. Melo did not want to be in New York. Getting rid of that negative mentality, and starting the rebuilding process from the ground up was a smart move by the Knicks.
The Thunder added a third scoring option as well as some veteran leadership on the court.
“Both pickups were great for the Thunder, and in my opinion, they had the best offseason. While some pressure is still on Russ, Melo and George will take off some of that load,” says Greg Persad.
The Timberwolves also made some moves this season. While they got rid of some of their young potential in Lavine and Dunn, they added Jimmy Butler. He brings offense, defense, and positive energy to the team.
“Watch out for the T-Wolves. They have a young core, and a leader in Jimmy Butler. They will be a fun team to watch this season,” says Sam Emerman.
With Butler, Towns, and Wiggins, the Timberwolves should be a legitimate force in the Western Conference. They will not go too deep in the playoffs due to inexperience, but they will challenge any team they are faced up against.
Forward Gordon Hayward signed with Boston, reuniting with college coach Brad Stevens. Hayward adds a consistent offensive threat, and defensive energy to the Celtics.
Boston and Cleveland capped off a wild summer, sending point guard Kyrie Irving to the Beantown and point guard Isaiah Thomas, small forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, and a 2020 second round pick to the Land.
Boston gave up a lot, but a face of Irving and Hayward is quite intriguing, considering the young core they have built. The Celtics have potential to rack up 60 wins this season while taking first place in the East.
The Cavs improved this offseason; however, injuries may conceal their true firepower early on. The Cavs ended up picking up Thomas, Crowder, Jeff Green, and Derrick Rose. They have a deep roster, and will look to meet up with the Warriors for the fourth time in a row.
Only week until the start of the season, get hyped!