Doesn't it feel like the 2016-2017 NBA Season just ended? I mean, wasn't it just last month when all us round ball fans debated if King James and the Cavs had any shot against the Golden State Warriors?
It's early in July. But already the balance of power may have shifted in the Eastern Conference. Not only that, but Golden State may have solidified its position as repeat NBA Champions already.
If there is any team that could beat the Warriors in the West, it must be the Houston Rockets. How well has Houston already done this season? Is it enough for the Rockets to take down the mighty Warriors?
Three Big NBA Questions and Answers
Are the Boston Celtics Now the Team to Beat in the Eastern Conference?
Yes. Boston has done enough to become the best team in the Eastern Conference. And, GM Danny Ainge might not be done. Over the weekend, Ainge said that he's thinking about other moves. So far, every move he's made has been spectacular.
Boston traded away Avery Bradley to the Pistons for Marcus Morris. Marcus Morris is one of the unsung frontcourt players in the league. The 6′ 9″, 235 lbs Morris averaged close to 15 points, and close to 5 boards per game in 2016. Now, Morris gets to play with one of the top point-guards in the NBA in Isaiah Thomas.
Why did Boston trade Bradley? They did so to make room for Utah's former All-Star Gordon Hayward. Hayward is possibly one of the Top 5 best players in the NBA. If you look at what Hayward does night in and night out, and then think about who his teammates were at Utah, you get an idea of how incredibly effective he should be playing with, you guessed it, Isaiah Thomas.
With Hayward and Morris in the fold, Boston's starting 5 projects this way:
PG – Isaiah Thomas
G – Marcus Smart
SF – Gordon Hayward
F – Marcus Morris
C – Al Horford
What's scary about this starting 5 is that Thomas, Smart, and Hayward can all dish the rock, shoot the three, and drive to the hoop. Morris and Horford can play inside or outside. But that's not the only reason to love the Boston Celtics.
Boston's bench projects to be the deepest in the NBA. If Ainge stands pat, the following players should come off the bench for the soon to be dominant Celtics: Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Jaylen Brown, Demetrius Jackson, Jason Taytum, Terry Rozier, and Aron Baynes.
I think Boston is ready to become the team to beat in the NBA Eastern Conference
By Re-Signing Steph and KD is Golden State a Lock to Repeat?
Maybe. That's the only thing I can write. I'm just not sure. Yes, Golden State is already a less than 1/2 chalk to repeat as NBA Champions. The thinking is that if Cleveland with LeBron can't beat the Warriors, nobody can beat the Warriors.
But, this year's Cleveland Cavaliers' squad wasn't as formidable as 2016's squad. J.R. Smith was a mess the entire season. The Cavs didn't add the right players. Plus, Cleveland's defense had big lapses.
I'm not ready to say that Boston can beat Golden State. I am ready to say Boston could push Golden State to 6 games. Boston is a young, hungry, deep team. They're the one team that can match Golden State's pace. Plus, with Hayward, Morris and Horford on the frontline, the Celtics could become the best defensive team in the league.
What About the Houston Rockets?
The Rockets might be the team to beat. I'm not kidding. First, they resigned The Beard, James Harden. Harden signed a max $228 million dollar contract for four-years. The entire $228 million is guaranteed. That's the most important thing the Rockets did.
The second most important thing Houston did is trade for Chris Paul, the Clippers future hall of fame point-guard. Paul is easily one of the Top 3 point-guards in the NBA. He might be the overall best pure point-guard in the NBA.
The third most important thing hasn't even happened yet. The Rockets are furiously working to trade for the Knicks' best player, Carmelo Anthony. What's so exciting about the Paul, Harden, Anthony, Big 3 is that every player can work in his best position.
Paul is the point-guard. Harden can play shooting guard. Melo can start at small forward. I'm telling you, if the Rockets make this happen while keeping both center Clint Capela and defensive wizard Trevor Ariza, you're looking at a super-team.