Swing and Swish: NBA season preview

Sports Editor Mike Moxley discusses current events and issues in basketball and golf. Reading this column will keep you caught up with your favorite teams and players.


After a busy summer, the NBA regular season is officially underway. Opening night was Oct. 27, and the opening games included the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors versus the New Orleans Pelicans.

Off season trades and signings, including LaMarcus Aldridge to the San Antonio Spurs, Monta Ellis to the Indiana Pacers, and Ty Lawson to the Houston Rockets, make this upcoming NBA season one to watch.

The Warriors, reigning champs of the 2014-15 NBA season, made small roster changes, retaining their core group from last season. They look poised to have a great season.

Stephen Curry is coming off his MVP year, and judging from the first few games, looks to be in midseason form. Against the New Orleans Pelicans, Curry scored 53 points, one off of his career high, to go along with eight assists and eight rebounds. However, the Warriors aren’t the favorites to win the title this year, even after going 67-15 last year.

The Cavaliers are healthy and heavily favored to return to the NBA Finals this year. The only difference between this year and last year is that they are favored to win it all, despite the Warriors essentially being the same team. According to the owners’ poll on NBA.com, the Cavaliers are favored to win by 53.6% of respondents. Down at number three are the Warriors, at 17.9%.

Last season, the Western Conference was extremely strong, while the Eastern Conference teams weren’t capable of competing with the West. The West had nine teams above a .500 winning percentage, whereas the East only had six.

This season should be a different story as far as the competition in the East, due to the offseason moves by several teams. A full list of NBA team trades and transactions can be seen at ESPN.com.

This offseason the Milwaukee Bucks signed power forward Greg Monroe to give them better size. Their star player Jabari Parker, who was injured last year, will begin his rookie season this year after missing all of last year with an ACL tear. Parker was drafted number one overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.

The Miami Heat drafted Justise Winslow with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft. Winslow brings size and athleticism to the Heat. Power forward Chris Bosh missed several months last season with a blood clot in his lung, and has returned to begin the season.

The Heat also acquired Goran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns midway through last year, but he never got to make an impact with such few games played after joining the team. However, Dragic was signed this offseason to a 5 year contract, believing he can make a positive impact this season.

The Indiana Pacers struggled mightily last year without their star player, Paul George, who broke his leg last summer during a preliminary game and missed the majority of the season. He returned at the end of last season, but was clearly not the same player. During the offseason they traded David West and Roy Hibbert, who were both a part of the team that faced the eventual champions Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013. They got in return, Monta Ellis and Jordan Hill, from the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers respectively.

According to the owner’s poll, the top five teams in the West for this season are projected to be the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets respectively. The East’s top teams include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, and the Miami Heat.

Rookies in the NBA are crucial for strengthening weaker teams and creating depth for others. Some key rookies this season include Emmanuel Mudiay, Seth Curry, and D’Angelo Russell.

Mudiay was drafted seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets, who brought him in to replace Ty Lawson who was traded to the Rockets. Seth Curry was signed by the Sacramento Kings after having a superb Summer League with the New Orleans Pelicans. Russell was drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers and will most likely be the starting point guard, playing alongside Kobe Bryant.

This season is shaping up to be very competitive and highly entertaining.The television broadcast schedule can be found here at NBA.com, so you won’t miss a game.

Mike Moxley is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.