Anion Sports 2018 NBA Preview
The NBA is back baby! It’s finally time to get back to all the on/off court drama and intensity that comes with the NBA season. For all you people that say that it doesn’t matter and we should just wait until the postseason, news flash: Y’all can shove it. This year might be the most hyped I’ve ever been for a season of basketball.
Before I dive into the preview of the season, I want to take the time to thank three leagues that allowed me to continue to enjoy basketball all summer. First, the JBA was a ground-breaking creation this season and changing the options available to young athletes was a big step forward in the sport.
Second, I want to shout out the Matteson Pro Am for giving some of the most entertaining up close moments of the summer. For those that don’t know, I was put on to the league by my friend and once I was in, I was hooked. I can’t wait until the next summer to see some of the most talented local guys ball out.
Third, the WNBA. Think about this, for so many people, they act like professional basketball stops one the Finals are over and that’s not true. The WNBA had another year of growth and this year’s finals saw a brand new matchup between the Mystics and the Storm. Congratulations again to Breanna Stewart and the Storm for their championship season
Without further ado, I now present: The Anion Sports NBA Preview.
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
The current best player to ever touch a Spalding ball, LeBron James moved out West this summer to join the winningest franchise in NBA history. Coming off one of the best seasons ever for a 33 year old player (27.5 pts, 9.1 ast, 8.6 reb on 54% shooting), he now has his best supporting cast ever. That’s not a typo, I think this roster top to bottom is the best assembly of talent that Bron has ever played with.
How that affects James is yet to be seen. Despite the talent they all possess, they still are incredibly young as their average age is 24.6 years old. If LeBron can lead this team to a top seed in the loaded conference, he should be able to reclaim his rightful place as MVP of the NBA.
Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
What’s a preview without a little sleeper? I think Doncic has an outside shot
to upset Deandre Ayton for ROTY. Doncic falling to the Mavericks is what keyed me in on this pick as a possible candidate. I believe that him not being the focal point of the offense will help him instead of hurt him. Now before you mention Devin Booker in Phoenix, Ayton will be the primary recipient of non-perimeter touches, whereas Doncic has both Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith, Jr. to draw defensive attention away.
I think the Rookie in Texas will be able to establish himself in the Mavs pecking order as invaluable to their offensive flow. His ability to handle the ball and make plays should allow Dennis to increase his efficiency with easier looks while working off the ball. Plus Doncic should be able to call his own number enough on a team that won’t be a playoff contender, but should be better than the Suns in the win column.
Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
The Brow has a legitimate run at MVP in him, but one of the awards I think he should be able to win outright is DPOY. Last year he remained an absolute terror on the defensive end, averaging a career-high 1.5 steals to go with 2.6 blocks. I think the Pelicans will enjoy good returns on that end when you take a fully healthy and confident Jrue Holiday locking up the perimeter in addition to Ant going insane in the paint.
New Orleans also has the ability to take a leap forward in their development if they can keep everyone healthy and add to the chemistry seen in last year's first round sweep of the Trail Blazers. Anthony Davis' generational two-way ability will be at the core of everything they accomplish this season and that's a big fact.
Sixth Man of the Year: Carmelo Anthony, Houston Rockets
Man, this feels weird to put his name as a sixth man considering he never would come off the bench before. If he really does indeed come off of the bench, then Melo would be able to provide buckets for a potential #1 overall seed in the NBA. After averaging 13 points in the preseason, I think that’s a solid basis for his season.
Obviously, an uptake in points would be required, but something tells me the future Hall of Famer could provide something along the lines of 15 pts, 4 reb and 2-3 assists in a bench role this season for the Rockets. If that happens, watch out league.
Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics
This one feels overdue. Dwayne Casey was a deserving candidate last year and I’m not here to argue his award. But this year is different. The Celtics are a different animal this year. Having a healthy Kyrie Irving for a full season and Gordon Hayward once he gets up to speed after missing almost all of last year should allow Brad Stevens to unleash the full litany of his skills on the Eastern Conference. Look for the Celtics to finish what they started last spring and take over for LeBron as the East’s Finals representative.
Finals Matchup: Celtics vs Rockets
I think this is what we’ve all been waiting for. LeBron moving out West allows someone other than The King to go to the final round and who else other than the Celtics who may be the deepest team in the league. On the flip side, I think the Rockets now have the requisite depth to challenge the Warriors without going 30 straight attempted threes clanking off the rim. As long as Chris Paul stays healthy, the Rockets will be gucci out West. Stay tuned for predictions.