Before we gleefully anticipate the upcoming NBA season, let’s first have a recap of what transpired in the historic 2015-2016 season:
- The Golden State Warriors became the winningest team in the regular season with a 73-9 win-loss record.
- The Cleveland Cavaliers set the record for most 3-points made in any game (regular season or playoffs) with 25 conversions in their 2nd round duel with Atlanta.
- Kobe Bryant dropped 60 points in his final game as a Laker on April 13, 2016.
- The Warriors and the Thunder connived for back-to-back meltdowns by blowing 3-1 leads.
- Lebron James and his Cavaliers ended Cleveland’s 52-year title drought with an improbable comeback against the Warriors.
- James put up eye-popping stats of 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.3 blocks, and 2.6 steals in the 2016 NBA Finals to lead all players of both squads.
- Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett separately bid their adieu to fans and the game after stellar careers from both men.
Now, let’s set our sights on five of the many players to watch out for the 2016-2017 NBA season.
2015-16 Season Stats: 16.9 PPG, 4.3 APG, 7.7 RPG
Fresh from signing a $100M deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Greek Freak looks as impressive as ever. Giannis is a combination of athleticism and freakish physiology, making him one of the most highly-touted wing players of today’s NBA. Jason Kidd’s intent of sliding him as point forward also paid dividends last season. The 21-year old expressed his commitment of being a Buck for the rest of his career –a thing of utmost certainty if he’ll stay healthy.
However, there are some concerns about him. Can a year 21-year old really take the pressure that a lucrative contract brings? Can he orchestrate on an overly humongous Bucks lineup that feature Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe, and Thon Maker? Can he make up for his outside shooting woes?
All of these questions can be answered by the rejuvenated Greek Freak on the upcoming season.
2015-16 Season Stats: 19.6 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.0 RPG
Kyrie’s 3 point shot over Steph Curry in the last few minutes of Game 7 is believed by many to be the turning point of that tightly contested game. Weeks after his team won the Larry O’Brien trophy, he decided to help team USA win another gold medal in the Olympics. His stock rose even more after those two career highlights.
What could go south for the 24-year old flamboyant guard? Like Giannis, it’s succumbing to expectations.
2015-2016 Season Stats: 13.7 PPG 11.8 RPG, 1.6 BPG
Howard is nowhere half the man he was at Orlando. He was a nightmare on the defensive end with ferocious blocks and intimidations to anyone who was gutsy enough to contest him. That paved the way for him to win three Defensive Player of the Year awards in three consecutive seasons.
But when he was traded for the Lakers, not only his production dropped, but also seemed that his enthusiasm too. That downfall extended until his tenure in Houston. Can this season with the Hawks finally be his bounce back season? Can he also form a formidable lineup with Paul Millsap, or will this be another case of the Gasol-Howard nightmare?
2015-2016 Season Stats: 28.2 PPG, 5.0 APG, 8.2 RPG
Durant’s recent off season move surely made waves across the globe. He joined the Golden State Warriors in a deal described by Charles Barkley as “joining the Warrior’s gravy train.” Commissioner Adam Silver even admitted that the signing greatly alters the league’s competitive balance. Everyone loves competition, so that move by KD is regarded by many as an act of cowardice.
Pleasing people though is the last thing on the one-time MVP’s head. He looks to quench his own thirst for an NBA championship by forming a scary lineup with two-time MVP Steph Curry and the rest of Golden State’s core.
How loud will he be booed in his first trip as a villain in Chesapeake Arena? How will he fare against Westbrook and his old team? Is he a defensive liability on a Warriors team that emptied their role players for him? We can only speculate.
Lebron James and Stephen Curry
James’ 2016 Season Stats: 25.3 PPG, 6.8 APG, 7.4 RPG
Curry’s 2016 Season Stats: 30.1 PPG, 6.7 APG, 5.4 RPG
It all boils down to these two protagonists. James finally avenged their 2015 loss, but Curry looks to do the same if they meet again in the finale next year.
James remains to be the most dominant player in the NBA today. He led all players in all 5 categories in this year’s finals. However, does he still have enough gas left in the tank? How does wear and tear of 6 straight finals affect his game? Can he have a shot at taking Jordan’s reign with another championship? Will he somehow give way to up and coming guys?
Curry, on the other hand, is still the best shooter in the league, shattering his own 3 point record every year. However, his defense is still the main chink on his armor. How will he team up with KD? Will that signing limit his offensive touches? How does he really come back from a humiliating loss? Can he avoid the same injury that somehow derailed his rhythm in the playoffs?
The above-mentioned questions are just some of the innumerable inquiries of basketball fans. They can only be concluded at the end of the upcoming NBA season. If it’s superior athletic apparel you’re looking for, there’s no question that Wagadoo stores some of the best in town.