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2017-18 NBA Season Update

John Shay, Staff Reporter

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The 2016-17 NBA season was telltale, as the Golden State Warriors went on to win a favored championship after acquiring Kevin Durant to pair up with Golden State’s big three, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. The Warriors beat the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers team led by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in a 4-1 finals win after sweeping the rest of the playoffs. The 2017-18 season brings some crazy changes though.

After Gordon Hayward fractured his left ankle, it seems like LeBron James will have an easier trip to the NBA finals, assuming Hayward is out for the season. The celtics will have to largely rely on players like Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown now that Hayward is out.

Hayward was not the only surprising injury this season. After everyone was shocked at the fact that Kyrie Irving was traded to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland fans were stopped short of celebration after they figured out Thomas would be out until around January with a hip injury. Derrick Rose will have to step up big on the court to live up to expectations. Although Rose had suffered an ankle injury, it was short term as he is supposed to start against their next game against the Pacers.

Small Forward Jae Crowder was also included in the trade with Thomas. Although he may seem like the forgotten one, he is going to be a key player at the small forward spot after LeBron was pushed to power forward.

Injuries are the least of worries in the NBA right now. The Eastern Conference is really lacking superstar talent after most of the stars decided to go to the Western Conference. One of the biggest moves was the trade between the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Bulls traded away Jimmy Butler and a 16th overall pick to the Timberwolves for Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and the 7th overall pick. The Bulls are obviously attempting to start fresh by rebuilding with young players.

Not only did the Bulls decide to trade Jimmy Butler, but they lost Dwyane Wade to the Cavaliers, where he will surely play a big role at the shooting guard position. Wade signed a 1 year $2.3 million dollar deal with the Cavs.

Things get really insane when you realize how many superstars moved teams in the offseason. The Clippers traded Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets to team up with All Star James Harden, leaving Houston with a dangerous frontcourt. The Clippers received a whopping 7 players and a first round pick in exchange for Paul. The Oklahoma City Thunder are also extremely dangerous. After losing All Star Kevin Durant in free agency to the Warriors during the 2016 free agency, Russell Westbrook went on to record 42 triple doubles for the Thunder, leading them to the record of 47-35.

Westbrook will not be alone this season though. The Thunder acquired All Star Paul George after trading away Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for George. The fun didn’t end there though, as the Thunder went on to trade with the New York Knicks for All Star Carmelo Anthony in exchange for Doug McDermott and Enes Kanter. After these two blockbuster trades, it seems the Thunder are one of the only teams that can keep up with the seemingly unstoppable Warriors.

Now that the Eastern Conference has been basically ridden of superstar players, some unexpected teams are looking like strong contenders for the playoffs. Besides the obvious two playoff contenders of the Celtics and Cavaliers, the 76ers are looking like a definite playoff contender for this year and years to come.

The Sixers have a very young core, but their biggest problem has been keeping the players healthy. Ben Simmons, the first pick in the 2016 draft, was out for the 2016-17 season after having foot surgery. This injury greatly handicapped the Sixers, as Simmons set high expectations going into the NBA. He averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists, a very promising statline.

Simmons has been looking fantastic in his recent games. After having two amazing games against the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, Simmons went on to record a 21 point, 12 rebound, and 10 assist triple double against the Detroit Pistons. He will no doubt be a big help to the Sixers this year and for years to come at the young age of 21.

The Sixers also acquired rookie point guard Markelle Fultz in the 2017 NBA draft. In Fultz’s 2016-17 season in college, he averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists, an impressive statline. Unfortunately for the Sixers, Fultz’s preseason debut did not meet expectations. During the preseason, Fultz averaged just 8 points per game, 2 rebounds per game, and 1 assist per game. He played an average of 15 minutes per game. The Sixers are hoping that Fultz can bounce back, or the team could be in trouble. Fultz also suffered a shoulder injury, and he could be out for 3 weeks or more. Injuries have been a problem for the Sixers, and they need him back sooner than later in order to succeed.

The NBA also made a huge announcement when revealing they would change the All-Star game format. It used to be that players from the Eastern Conference would play players from the Western Conference, all voted on by the fans. There will now be two team captains, voted on by fans, who will choose starters and reserves from a group of players also chosen by fans. Whether the players are from the East or West will not matter any longer. Although it may take some getting used to, the All-Star game is sure to be thrilling, especially now that the teams should be made even.

Overall, the NBA has been hectic so far, and is only looking to get crazier. The Western Conference looks extremely strong, which will leave fans questioning whether or not the Warriors will go to the NBA finals for their fourth consecutive year. The Eastern Conference will have some unexpected teams excel this year, after many of the teams lost their star players such as the Pacers losing Paul George and the Bulls losing Jimmy Butler. The change to the All-Star game will also keep fans waiting for what should be a very fun season to watch.

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Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs
2017-18 NBA Season Update