After one of the NBA’s most explosive offseasons to date, the NBA’s changes have paved the way for new opportunities and chances. With that being said, here are my five hottest takes to open the 2017-2018 NBA season.
1. Carmelo Anthony has a career year, contends for MVP
If anyone needed a change of scenery, Carmelo Anthony certainly needed it the most. The small-forward had a dreadful tenure with the New York Knicks, playing for a losing team with a horrid front office. Now that Melo is in the company of defending MVP Russell Westbrook and Paul George at Oklahoma City, Melo has the chance to redeem himself. When watching the Thunder play this preseason, Melo finally looked comfortable, a feeling he’s been missing for a long time. With OKC’s high powered offense and the playmaking ability of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo may be the biggest piece to the Thunder’s offense, receiving catch and shoot opportunities and isolations. Now that he is in a winning environment, Melo can finally be himself on the basketball court, and in a big way. Fans may get to see something similar to his stellar 2013 season, where he finished behind Lebron James in MVP voting. Obviously, he won’t be the same player he once was, but now that he has other stars around him for the first time in a while, he may be able to regain his former self for one more year.
2. Kyle Kuzma has a better rookie year than Lonzo Ball
Before anyone reads this and thinks that I’m advocating that Kuzma is a better player, they couldn’t be more wrong. I have little doubt in my mind that Lonzo will be a star talent in this league someday. However, Kuzma has shown immediate signs that he has the ability to be a formidable player for the Lakers, in terms of scoring and overall production. Combining that with Lonzo’s ability to make plays for Kuzma, I think that we may see a phenomenal rookie tandem between the two. Because of this, Kuzma may see more success to start out, being a solid scorer and versatile player. Lonzo definitely has these qualities as well, but Kuzma can build off of these traits in a much quicker fashion. Once again, I am not saying that when it’s all said and done, Kuzma will be a better player, but Kuzma will have a stronger rookie year than Lonzo will.
3. Detroit surprises everybody and gets a top 4 seed out east
Detroit made a huge splash trading for Avery Bradley, replacing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with a much more efficient offensive talent and arguably the best defending guard the league has to offer. Bradley’s ability to provide a gritty, defensive identity, along with consistent offensive production could potentially resonate with the Pistons, particularly center Andre Drummond. Drummond has been known for being a lackluster defender, but Bradley can enforce a stronger identity for the center. With Bradley’s arrival in Detroit and a weakened Eastern Conference, Detroit’s new identity places it in a promising position to turn heads and make a run for a top 4 seed this April.
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo has a dominant regular season and wins MVP
If you invest yourself in NBA twitter, you may be familiar with legend Kobe Bryant directly challenging players to accomplish personal goals. One of these challenges was directed at Giannis Antetokounmpo, who the Mamba directed to win MVP this year. Giannis had a tremendous season a year ago, finishing with All-NBA Second Team honors and an All-Star appearance. Now that the East at its weakest, Giannis has the perfect chance to do serious damage and potentially win the MVP. Each season, he has exceeded expectations to a ridiculous degree. I expect him to do so once again.
5. Derrick Rose returns to his long-lost form
Derrick Rose has one mission. That mission is to prove to the NBA that he still has what it takes to be considered a star in this league. Rose now finds himself on a loaded Cavaliers team with none other than Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, the men who held him back from a shot at a title in 2011. Additionally, Rose has a small, almost insulting contract this season, and wasn’t supposed to receive a starting spot either. However, now that Isaiah Thomas is out for an extended period of time, DRose has his biggest chance to prove to the league that his MVP form is still present. With an accomplished group of veterans and a plethora of reasons to be motivated, Rose still has time to regain what he once had. Under the guidance of Lebron and Wade, Rose might find his comfort with the Cavaliers and have an unforgettable recovery season.