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Monday, September 24, 2018

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Eyes On NBA: Media Day Highlights

By @TrueGodImmortal

Well, the NBA season is here. Media Day has arrived and the beginning of the NBA season has been marked. With that, we wanted to take a brief look at some of the teams and the feeling you get from them on Media Day. These are only my perspectives based on what was said, and the interviews. What teams stuck out the most to me in Media Day? Let's take a look.

*Toronto Raptors 

-So, the only thing that mattered for Media Day was seeing top 5 player Kawhi Leonard finally show up in his jersey. That was an amazing moment for most NBA fans, but it had to feel bittersweet as well. While many suspect that Kawhi will leave the Raptors after this season, there is a feeling that he could be persuaded to stay. The Media Day moment is honestly one of the most peculiar, as Kawhi has been more active in just this small window of time than he was last season period. Regardless, the Raptors going against any top team in the East is an instant must watch game now due to the presence of Kawhi. While Toronto has made a small bit of noise before this season, with Kawhi there, it feels like all eyes will be on them this season, for better or worse.

*Boston Celtics 

-We saw what this team was capable of last year in the preseason. The Celtics with Kyrie and Hayward back fully healthy are easily the Eastern Conference favorites and for good reason. They have quite possibly the second best roster in the NBA. If I'm comparing overall rosters, besides the Warriors obviously, the Celtics have the second best team in the NBA and the second best roster. We just discussed their season recently on the site, so no need to really go too much into it here, but they all look focused on Media Day and that could be a great sign for the Celtics fans. Will the Celtics win the East this year? It's looking more and more likely.

*San Antonio Spurs

-I opted out of putting the 76ers on this one, because we have a season preview for the team coming in the next few days. However, the most interesting thing I've seen involving another team at Media Day is DeMar DeRozan officially being in his Spurs jersey. It will be interesting to see how DeMar handles being in the system of Coach Pop along with the dynamic of the Spurs being without a number of centerpieces from their franchise history. Manu is retired. Tony Parker is finishing his career in Charlotte it seems. Kawhi Leonard, who seemingly was passed the torch from Tim Duncan is a Toronto Raptor. For the Spurs, this season is a rebuild and a new beginning. Will they continue making the playoffs? Will the younger guys be pivotal? Will LaMarcus Aldridge mesh well with DeMar? We shall see.

*Detroit Pistons

-So, you might be wondering why the Pistons are here for their Media Day stuff. I have only one reason for featuring them here and it is simple: Andre Drummond has the greenlight to shoot more threes this season and Dwane Casey is the new Pistons head coach. This is actually a sleeper team in the East to me, especially if they are able to pull off a trade to unload Reggie Jackson and maybe another piece for Jimmy Butler. The franchise has money invested in Drummond and Blake Griffin and that alone makes them intriguing in an East that is wide open. Will the Pistons make some noise this season? That is unknown, but they have every opportunity to do so.

*Cleveland Cavaliers

-The question on the Cavs is pretty simple: where do they go from here now that Bron is gone? The answer to that one might be hard. Sure, Kevin Love is now the face of the Cavs franchise, but is that a good thing? He was the face of the Wolves years ago and they made absolutely no progress, but that was before he had been to the Finals three straight times and won a championship. This will be an opportunity for Ty Lue to show his coaching prowess without Bron over his shoulder, and they have some decent pieces who could find rejuvenation this year like Rodney Hood, J.R. Smith, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, Channing Frye, and more. Cedi Osman shows promise, as does David Nwaba and of course, Collin Sexton could end up becoming a big time player for the team. All these unanswered questions for the Cavs will soon be answered. Let's hope things work somewhat in their favor.

*Minnesota Timberwolves

-So, Jimmy Butler is on the way out. Andrew Wiggins is their investment. Karl Anthony Towns just signed a max deal extension. Those two are the centerpieces of the Wolves franchise. However, what will this team look like come October? Surely, Jimmy Butler will be traded off and there will be new pieces in place, but from where? What team makes the trade? Sources say the Wolves will ship Butler to the East, and that leaves more question marks. Will Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, and all of the former Bulls players mesh well with the Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl Anthony Towns trio that they've invested in? That remains to be seen.

*Los Angeles Lakers

-So, of course. The Lakers. The team that everyone is hyping up as usual. It never fails. With all of the competition in the West, I suspect a rough go of it for the Lakers this season, at least early on. Bron is Bron, so they'll eventually turn a corner, but it seems like the foursome of Lonzo, Ingram, Kuz, and LeBron is being promoted as the starting lineup, well at least 4 of that, and the bench has Javale, Lance, Rondo, and Michael Beasley. This is such a weird team, with poor spacing and more than likely mediocre defense. The stakes are higher now and the pressure is on for the team, yet LeBron says he feels no pressure. While many Lakers fans are deservedly excited about this team, other fans are skeptical. Maybe this Lakers team could be a top 3 seed in the West. Maybe they could be top 6 seed in the West. Maybe they could even miss the playoffs. Whatever the case may be, this Lakers team will be one to watch all year for sure.

*Oklahoma City Thunder

-So, I am not sold on the Houston Rockets this year. I see Carmelo Anthony is now a Rocket, and while many people point to his spotty performance in Oklahoma City Thunder and blame Russell Westbrook, I think the issue was and has been Melo. I think you'll see this season that the duo of Paul George and Russell Westbrook together alongside the returning Andre Roberson and Steven Adams with new pieces Dennis Schroder and Nerlens Noel could be a solid group and a possible top 3 seed in the West. If George is committed, Russ is healthy, and the pieces flow together well, this could be the year the Thunder make the Western Conference Finals again. Maybe. Time will tell, but what I gathered from Media Day is that this is a more focused team than the prior year. Where that takes them, only time will tell.

*Golden State Warriors

-The Champions. The dynasty. The quest for the fourth title in five years and to complete a threepeat. The favorites. The Warriors. This season is rather strange to me, as many seem to be overdoing their reporting stating that the Warriors feel like this could be the last year they are all together, but I think they are reading too much into it. I think the Warriors, with Steph, Klay, and Draymond are here to stay and I feel KD is not leaving just yet. I think the Media Day vibes were a little odd only because of the one thing people seem to ignore: this is the last season in Oakland for the Warriors. The end of the Oracle legacy. That itself makes this season that much more special, and now allows the Warriors to have a reason to want to win another title and go out on top in Oracle. However, I see the team staying together for another year or two, as KD, Steph, Klay, and Draymond have all expressed how important it is to be around each other and work towards that goal. Oh, and I forgot to mention, Boogie Cousins is on Golden State now. So, yeah. The overall feeling from Media Day was fun, but also the dread and knowledge that the title likely will stay in Oakland for the final time. Whether or not the Warriors stay together, this season is an end of an era.... for Oracle Arena. What better way to close it out than with a title?



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