By Joe Yamulla || Sports Editor
It seems like it just ended, and basketball is already back. Next week, the top basketball players in the world will be lacing up their sneakers as the NBA season tips off with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls.
It’s no surprise that this season is highly anticipated, as all eyes are on the defending champion Golden State Warriors and the rest of the top teams in the league as they compete to be crowned champions in June.
Going into the season, the Warriors are still listed as the top team in the NBA in the power rankings. Young stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have the Bay area poised to make many playoff runs now and in the future.
However, despite how good this team is, winning championships back to back is one of the most difficult things for any professional sports franchise to accomplish.
Many people favorite defending Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James to finally bring a championship back to the city of Cleveland. It is still debatable as to who was the better team last season. The Cavaliers had several key players injured such as Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and Anderson Varejão.
These losses forced most of the team’s burden to be placed on the shoulders of their leader in LeBron James. Last season, his efforts were not quite enough. He hopes to help Cleveland breakthrough this year and win his third championship.
Even though Cleveland and Golden State are labeled as the two best teams in basketball, the road to the Finals will certainly be difficult. Even in the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers have to face an upstart and very talented Washington Wizards team, and the well-balanced Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors.
It would be no surprise if Washington, Toronto, or Atlanta makes the next step this season and surpasses Cleveland to go deeper into the playoffs and possibly even to the NBA Championship.
The Warriors have it even tougher out West. The newly reloaded San Antonio Spurs are looking to add another title to their dynasty this season with the help of newly acquired forward Lemarcus Aldridge. Chris Paul and the Clippers, and then of course Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, are large threats to the Warriors’ quest of repeating their championship win.
The Western Conference is so incredibly deep that teams like the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, and Dallas Mavericks sometimes get forgotten when talking about favorites this season.
However, each team either has the talent or experience to make a playoff run. It is safe to say that whoever comes out of the West is going to deserve it after battling through such a tough conference.
The NBA is in a great place right now. Superstars are playing in just about every city, and each franchise has something exciting happening. Next week, fans will be walking through turnstiles in their respective arenas and preparing to cheer on their team. beginning of next Summer, when a champion will be crowned.
Sophomore Joseph Yamulla is the Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org