Greatest Questions Heading Into The 2015 NBA Season
Brought to you by the NBA 2015 Season
NBA Opening Night tips off Tuesday Oct. 27 with Pistons vs. Hawks, Cavs vs. Bulls and Pelicans vs. Warriors. Those three great matchups alone will provide a glimpse into a few of the answers we’re looking for heading into the new season. But many we’re searching for won’t fully be understood until next summer.
Here’s what NBA fans should be dying to know right now.
Can the Warriors get lucky? … Again?
No doubt you win 67 games with incredible talent. But you also have to get lucky.
Part of the reason the Warriors won the NBA title this past season was because they were able to stay healthy along with the fact they faced an NBA Finals team missing two of their best three players. LeBron may be the best player alive, but he’s not God. He’ll be back with a formidable lineup and the Warriors need to be ready.
Head coach Steve Kerr has been away from the team following back surgery, leaving former Laker Luke Walton to lead the team. Kerr’s return is pivotal, but even more so will be the improvement of their three stars: Steph Curry (27), Klay Thompson (25) and Draymond Green (25). That’s right. All those guys are still incredibly young and entering their prime.
Considering Curry (last year’s MVP) and Thompson were easily the best shooting tandem in NBA history last year, the Warriors won’t just be incredibly fun to watch, they will be a wildly entertaining ride as they’ll likely to continue to generate their own good fortune by making plays like this:
Fastest release you’ll ever see. But will it be good enough to repeat? Simply making it out of the West that includes the Spurs, Clippers, Rockets, Grizzlies and Thunder will be tough enough.
Will the real healthy NBA stars please stand up!?
The list of first-tier NBA stars banged up is egregious.
Kevin Durant? Recovering from foot surgery. Should be ready. People are pessimistic.
Derrick Rose? Recovering from broken orbital bone. Still may have blurred vision.
Kobe Bryant? Aside from being injured past three years, and now 37, has a leg contusion.
Paul George? Recovering from broken leg.
All of these stars should be on the floor at or near the beginning of the season. The larger questions pertain to how well they’ll be able to perform and for how long.
We all know the shelf life on Kobe is about to expire and D-Rose could re-injure anything at a moment’s notice. Kevin Durant should be full-speed ahead and foot problems tend to linger. George should have a full recovery and help the Pacers get back to prominence.
It’s also notable that LeBron James had a back injection just days ago. Which leads us to our next question.
Can the Cavs complete their unfinished business?
The Cavs, in general, are still recovering as Kyrie Irving is trying to make it back from knee surgery and Kevin Love from shoulder surgery.
Let’s also not forget that LeBron essentially ran the team last year, appearing to consistently trump head coach David Blatt during timeouts while millions overlooked on television. Rumors will continue to swirl this season about the relationship between LeBron and his head coach and whether or not the team has the right person heading the Cavs.
With all their injuries, expect Cleveland to get off to another slow start, only to ramp things up before post-season play. Considering a LeBron team has made the finals five straight years, there’s absolutely no way the Cavs don’t make another Finals run in another weak Eastern Conference.
Are the Hawks for real?
One of the few teams that could actually contend with Cleveland in the East was Atlanta.
The Hawks shocked the basketball world last season by rattling off a franchise record 60 wins without a single player your mother would know. No superstar? No problem?
The Hawks played real team basketball, sharing the ball and spreading the wealth, allowing six players to average double-digit points-per-game, four of them earning the All-Star roster: Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague. I know. Crazy right?
But they were the number one seed in the East last season and still didn’t earn the respect they deserved, especially after predictably falling to Cleveland and LeBron James in the East Finals in a clean sweep.
So how did Atlanta improve? How will they compete with a healthy Cleveland team or, God forbid, a healthy Chicago Bulls squad?
They added former Spurs center Tiago Splitter, who averaged 15 points and 88 rebounds per game last year. He’s a solid defensive add.
The bad news is that the Hawks lost swingman DeMarre Carroll to the Raptors and his replacement Tim Hardaway Jr. just doesn’t cut it on defense. Not to mention intricate projection models such as CARMELO predict many of the key Hawks players will decline in ‘Wins Above Replacement’ this season.
In other words, don’t expect another great run from the Hawks this season. They’ll be lucky to make it to another conference finals in which they lose to LeBron.
But then again, there’s a reason they play the games. No one predicted the Warriors would be holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy this time last year.