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NBA Preview 2018-19 – All About the Golden Empire

Let’s see where we left off. The Golden State Warriors are the champs. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been defeated, and everyone else are trying to catch up to Dub Nation.
Yeah that sounds about right.

Now with the eve of the NBA Season already here, reports have surfaced that Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green all will leave the Warriors after this season.

Not so fast folks.

Until the deals are done, signed, sealed, and delivered, I will not believe it.
There is so much to separate, so much to put together. And to extend this longer than necessary would be unnecessary. So here is the first of a weekly top 10.

10 – Utah Jazz
They went a longer way than anticipated. Donovan Mitchell is the unquestioned leader of that team and defensively they are a dynamo. The question is, can they take the next step in their pursuit of the Western Conference Championship. The return of Gobert, Rubio, and Favors adds to their defensive presence. The offense needs to be solved fast.

9 – Indiana Pacers
They are the only team that stretched the Cleveland Cleveland Cavaliers as far as they did. They have the pieces to rule the East. Now with the edition of Doug McDermott, they can spread the floor offensively even more. Unfortunately there’s one glaring problem in Indiana’s capital city – closing games. If you go back to the first round series in the playoffs, there were a couple they should have closed with no issue including on the road. A little nerve will suit them well.

8 – Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook alone can keep the Thunder in pursuit of their first Finals appearance since 2012. That’s the good news. The bad news? Russell Westbrook wants to do it alone. There was more turmoil with the Thunder than mostly any other team save the Cavs. This team NEEDS to play DEFENSE when it counts. PERIOD. You saw what happened when they don’t – a loss in the first round. Nonetheless, they merit this spot now – when the season starts? We’ll see then.

7 – Milwaukee Bucks
Just as the OKC Thunder have Westbrook, the Bucks have Giannis. Though they lost Jabari Parker to the Chicago Bulls, Khris Middleton and Thon Maker seem ready to pick up the mantle as Giannis’ running mates. Also, with them opening a brand spanking new building, the Fiserv Forum, the attitude is back in Milwaukee. The question is, how far can they go?

6 – Toronto Raptors
Kawhi for DeMar. Holy catfish! Best coach in history, GONE! Now what? Well, when you bring in a talent like Kawhi, you upgrade your frontcourt. They lose a little shooting with Derozan gone, but they gain a lot of playoff experience. Question for the Raptors? Can they close out a playoff series where they are favored? Bonus question: Will them being swept, will it anger them enough to get better?

5 – San Antonio Spurs
Just like Toronto got better in one area, so did the Spurs. DeMar Derozan gives them a shooter they haven’t had in a while. Although they are now minus Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. You get the feeling Gregg Popovich will rally this Texas team as they face their most stern test in a while.

4 – Philadelphia 76ers
Talk about a team that has done a lot in a short amount of time, this is that team. The Sixers got to the second round of the playoffs by “trusting the process”. The “Process” got them to the second round and a five-game elimination against the Celtics. But at the same time, the Process got them 50-plus wins for the first time in a while, a playoff spot, and they damn near won the division. With the new season, they must take all the lessons they learned and take that next step. Challenge the East!

3 – Houston Rockets
I know they were 24 minutes away from the Finals, but who’s to say they would have won it. And now they have Carmelo Anthony. Is he good or bad for the Rockets? Will the Rockets actually compete in the loaded West. For some reason they’ll start high and finish low. Rockets fans will hope I’m wrong. But the beautiful thing is, THAT is why they play the games.

2 – Boston Celtics
Heyward? Healthy! Irving? Healthy! Bench? Deep! And they Celtics are a little pissed off! They need to be as the Eastern Conference is now wide open. With the departure of LeBron to the Lakers, Kyrie and the Celtics have plenty to gain, plenty to lose, and plenty to PROVE! Let’s get going!

1 – Golden State Warriors
Are you surprised? They went through the most tumultuous year in this run, finished second in the west, and first in the NBA. Rockets? Not a problem Cavaliers? PLEASE! So what happened this offseason in the Golden Empire – lose McGee, lose McCaw, lose Pachulia – Regain Durant, Regain, Iguodala, and oh yeah, sign DeMarcus Cousins for the minimum. And with reports supposedly saying that Durant and Thompson are leaving after this season (which ain’t gonna happen in my opinion) They’ll close out and blow up Oracle with a title, and then open the brand new Chase Center with TWO titles – and EVERYONE in tact.

On the Bubble
Los Angeles Lakers – Just because LeBron’s there – but PLENTY of turmoil awaits
Minnesota Timberwolves – Talk about turmoil – Hello? Jimmy?
Detroit Pistons – I’d LIKE to think that Casey would turn them around

Don’t even THINK about it
Chicago Bulls – Until Hoiberg Goes, the Bulls Don’t go – but then again, I could pleasingly be wrong about
this young bunch….and I hope I am.
Los Angeles Clippers – Doc brought this team up – and he’ll keep them down
Sacramento Kings – Good Lord!
Knicks and Nets – Do we REALLY want to know?

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