The NBA got a lot more interesting after a big trade earlier this morning. The Minnesota Timberwolves sent All-Star Power Forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in an exchange for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a 2015 1st-round pick. It looks like the Cavaliers are looking to win now rather than try to build a franchise team by trading away two of their first overall picks. Wiggins was this year’s first overall pick and was looking to be an apprentice under the mentorship of King James. However, LeBron James is looking for another ring, meaning that Wiggins is out of the picture. Wiggins will have a lot of fun developing with Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio, who is rising as a dynamic play-maker in the NBA.
As for Anthony Bennett, he looked like a bust last year so his departure wasn’t much of a surprise. It looks like the Cavaliers do not have the patience to watch him develop into a great player. Now this guy will definitely get a shot in Minnesota, seeing that Kevin Love was their only talented big man on the roster.
Speaking of Love, he will enjoy great success in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have an established backcourt with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Their small forward position is firmly in place with the return of King James and with the “Lovely” trade they made with the T-Wolves, their front court is taken care of. This blockbuster trade must have every team in the Eastern Conference shaking in their Air Jordans. With three All-Stars on one team (Irving, James and Love) it’s the Big Three all over again. This time it’s up north. LeBron will be a happy man moving forward into this season and Wiggins will have the opportunity to prove to everyone that he’s a superstar in Minnesota without having to stand in the shadow of a future Hall-of-Famer.
After Paul George suffered that devastating leg injury that will keep him out for next season, the Indiana Pacers lost a valuable member of their squad. Without George, there is little hope for the Pacers’ title hopes in 2015. Although this may not take them out of the postseason just yet, let’s look at some threatening teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a favorite simply because they have LeBron James. Not only that, but they also have an All-Star point guard in Kyrie Irving and a future superstar in Andrew Wiggins. However, their front court could be their ultimate downfall. The main reason why James was so successful in Miami was because he had Chris Bosh pulling in rebounds and giving him extra chances. Last year’s number one draft pick Anthony Bennett was a huge disappointment, but he is the best option for next season’s starting forward position. For center, they have Anderson Varejao and Brendan Haywood, but they are old veterans that can be reliable in all 82 games next season. Tristan Thompson would make a good fit at the power forward spot and Dion Waiters will make a great back-court player that could compliment both Irving and James. It’s mostly wait-and-see at this point for the Cavaliers.
The Chicago Bulls look to be the favorite in the East as well. They have an established coaching staff that knows how to win with low-caliber players, but this year, they get Derrick Rose back…again. If Rose can stay healthy, this Bulls team will be Cleveland’s main competition in the Central Division. They signed Pau Gasol in free agency and landed Doug McDermott in the NBA Draft. All of the pieces are there with Joakim Noah coming off a terrific year, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. Guys like Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Ronnie Brewer will also aid Rose in chasing that elusive NBA Finals, somewhere they haven’t been since Michael Jordan led the way many years ago.
With the Pacers, Cavaliers and Bulls fighting for the Central Division, let’s take a look at some other potentially threatening teams in the East. The New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors will be battling for the Atlantic Division. Carmelo Anthony’s decision to return to New York will definitely give them a chance. Phil Jackson looks to make this team a consistent winner in the East and will have to go through the upstart Raptors in order to get there. The Raptors finished last season with the 3-seed in the East with a surprising 48-34 record. They did better than the Brooklyn Nets who landed a tight 44-38 finish. Coach Lionel Hollins will try to make his new Nets team a title contender this year. If he can’t get them that good in a short amount of time, the Knicks and Raptors will dominate this division.
The two most surprising teams last year were the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats. Both finished with more than 42 wins, which is saying a lot for both of these franchises. The back-court combination of John Wall and Bradley Beal will definitely keep the Wizards in the championship race, but their front court will have to play consistently well in order to compete in the division. The Bobcats are now back to being called the Hornets and hopefully this rejuvenated team will make more surprises this year. With the Miami Heat losing some firepower because of the whole Decision 2.0 fiasco, the Southeast Division is wide open for the taking. Even the Atlanta Hawks are contenders after making the playoffs last year with a losing record. You can never count out everyone in that division. Unless you’re the Orlando Magic.
The Eastern Conference will definitely be more interesting this year and a lot more competitive. Unfortunately for the Pacers, their chance at a title shot is dampened with the George injury. Hopefully they can learn some lessons from Chicago on how to make the playoffs without your superstar player.
It’s official! LeBron James has decided to go back to his hometown and play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. A contract has not been presented yet, but James will probably get a max deal, making him the highest paid basketball player in the NBA. As for Chris Bosh, he will remain loyal with the Miami Heat and keep his talents in South Beach where he will just landed a 5-year deal worth over $116 million. Dwyane Wade is also a free agent and is probably going to stay in Miami as well. However, the Chicago Bulls have made a push to bring Wade back to his hometown. Everything will start falling into place once Carmelo Anthony makes up his mind on where he wants to play. He has narrowed his choices down to Chicago and staying in New York. Anthony is leaning towards the Knicks, but if Chicago is still a great place for Anthony to land. He will play for a championship-caliber team with a All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose and NBA-Defensive-Player-of-the-Year winner Joakim Noah. If the Bulls sign Wade, that could also attract Anthony to move west.
Now back to LeBron. James is the franchise-leader in points, free-throws made, and steals. He just needs to make 32 three-pointers and he will have the franchise record for that as well. He will also have the opportunity to play with something he has never had in his NBA career: a really talented All-Star point guard. Kyrie Irving has emerged as the leader of the Cavaliers since James left town. Now James won’t have the pressure to carry the team on his back like he did back when he first played with Cleveland. Irving will provide that All-Star power and the play-making ability to compliment James’ style. Not only that, but James will also get to play with rookie sensation Andrew Wiggins. The first-overall pick in this year’s draft will learn from LeBron up close and personal. It’s likely that the two players will share a bond on the court that will help develop the young star into one of the best rookies in the league. James will serve as a mentor for the young Wiggins, but he’ll do more than mentor him; he’ll show him how it’s done.
I think everyone in Cleveland now forgives LeBron for The Decision back in 2010 and now Cavaliers’ fans will have something to cheer about this season. Home games are going to be sold out, jerseys are going to be dug out of the trash can and Johnny Football will be closer to his new friend. The Heisman-winning quarterback will be playing for the Cleveland Browns this year and Manziel will definitely bring some excitement to the city. With both him and LeBron, a little hope has been poured into Cleveland. Now we’ll wait and see if LeBron can bring a title to his hometown.
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