2017-2018 NBA Season Preview


Second-year standout Jaylen Brown goes up for a tough layup against the Washington Wizards. The young star will have a lot more weight on his shoulders this season after Gordon Hayward went down with a season ending ankle injury in the first game of the season.

Mark Labak, Assistant Sports Editor

As the 2016-2017 season came to a close, the NBA saw a finals rematch that disappointed fans everywhere. The matchup was all too predictable, and a series that saw a quick 4-1 victory for the revenge-driven Golden State Warriors team left NBA fans in a helpless state of mind; it seemed no one could top the Warriors’ “super team.”

Any feelings of disappointment from dejected fans were quickly dissolved after this summer’s offseason. Teams around the NBA made trades and acquisitions to better their programs and give them an edge to compete with the dominant powerhouses of the Warriors in the West and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East.

In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics made big offseason changes. The Celtics’ “rebuild” came full circle as they traded away the player that most would argue turned around the franchise, Isaiah Thomas.

Boston finished 25-57 in the 2013-2014 season, an abysmal record that didn’t even earn them a trip to the playoffs. This came after trading away long-time superstars and future hall of famers in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for a future first round draft pick. They acquired Thomas before the trade deadline in 2015, and instantly became a playoff contender in the 2014-2015 season. Just two short years later, the Celtics competed with the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Despite this success, come summer, Boston’s General Manager Danny Ainge shipped Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and two draft picks (including the one received for Pierce and Garnett) for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving. The Celtics managed to sign one of the best two-way small forwards in Gordon Hayward during free agency, and drafted a young talent in Jayson Tatum with their 3rd overall pick in the NBA draft. Tatum and Hayward will join 2016’s top draft pick Jaylen Brown, who has been developing into a key asset for Boston. They will look to compete with the Cavaliers this season, and hopefully find their way to the NBA Finals in an effort to raise their 18th championship banner.

On the other side of things, in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, and Minnesota Timberwolves made notable offseason moves. They will all look to dethrone the Warriors’ “super team” that boasts the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

The Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Pacers all-star Paul George to compliment the MVP of last season and longtime Thunder star, Russell Westbrook. If that wasn’t enough, they traded for long time veteran Carmelo Anthony as well just days before the start of the preseason. Anthony’s New York run was coming to a close, and OKC might have been the perfect landing spot for a talented veteran and “still got it” isolation player.

In Minnesota, the Timberwolves added two-way shooting guard/small forward Jimmy Butler. He is one of the best isolation players in the league, and has elite scoring ability that took his Chicago Bulls to the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last year. A defensive prowess is also in his repertoire, earning himself first team all defense three years in his career. His skills will only add to the T-Wolves’ young talents Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. They finished 13th out of the 15 teams in the West last year, and will look to bounce back with their new star Jimmy Butler.

The Houston Rockets’ MVP candidate James Harden will now be joined by former Los Angeles Clipper all-star Chris Paul. Harden was the assist leader and the scoring-title runner up last season, and he managed to lead his Rockets to the Western Conference semifinals. The young Rockets team will only improve with the addition of the veteran superstar Paul, and they will look to make a run at the Finals this year.

NBA enthusiast Kyle Simpson ‘19 believes the Celtics have what it takes to go all the way this year. “I think it’s going to be the [Celtics] and the Rockets in the NBA finals. It will be interesting to see [Gordon Hayward] and Chris Paul each chasing their first championship ring.” While it could be two new teams this year, Andy Basque ‘20 thinks that it’ll be a rematch for the fourth straight year. “There’s no competition for the [Cavaliers] in the east, and in the west, the Thunder could give the Warriors a run for the money, but we all know it’s going to be the Warriors.” Dylan Terenzoni ‘19 has a different opinion on the matter; he thinks 2nd overall draft pick Lonzo Ball will turn around the Lakers and will put them in Finals contention. “[Ball] will be the greatest of all time one day. He has all the components to be a star.”

Whether it’s the Rockets or the Warriors, the Cavs or the Celtics, or even an underdog like the Lakers, this year’s exciting offseason will surely translate to the regular season and playoffs. Look back for updates throughout the year.

*Update: In the opening game of the NBA season, the Celtics’ big name offseason acquisition Gordon Hayward went down about five minutes into the game with a gruesome leg injury. The injury silenced the opposing crowd in Cleveland, and left players on the court grimacing and huddling together for support. After receiving support from stars around the league and standout figures in sports, Hayward underwent what was likely a season-ending surgery to repair a dislocated ankle and a fractured tibia. Boston’s road to the finals looks quite a bit longer after this devastating loss, but they will continue to rally around standouts Jaylen Brown and Kyrie Irving for the rest of the season.