NBA: 2016-2017 League Preview

A little less than two weeks out from the start of the National Basketball Association seasons, the top teams are starting to showcase their form that will likely carry them deep on a postseason run. One of the most intriguing storylines of the off-season and the preseason has been the performance of the Golden State Warriors and their new star Kevin Durant. Their 125 – 70 Victory over the Los Angeles Clippers wet the whistle for fans who are looking forward to seeing the NBA’s most dynamic trio in action. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Durant will garner a lot of attention throughout the season, and their progress will be one of the most interesting to follow.

At 4 – 0, the Houston Rockets have been one of the most consistent performers during the NBA’s preseason schedule. Their most recent game saw them beat the New Orleans Pelicans by a score of 116 – 104. James Harden led the way with 14 points. His eight assists are also a welcome sign for a team that is looking to challenge the Warriors in the loaded Western Conference.

Following the indefinite loss star player Gordon Hayward with a wrist injury, the Utah Jazz have been one of the up-and-coming teams receiving a lot of attention this offseason. They are sitting at 2 – 1 on the preseason campaign, and their exciting mix of veterans and young players are one of the teams that may challenge the Warriors in the early rounds of the NBA playoffs, if Hayward comes back at full form from his injury and Dante Exum returns positively after the season-ending injury that he sustained in the buildup to the Rio Olympic Games.

Moving to the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to defend their NBA title this season on the backs of stars Lebron James and Kyrie Irving. The most interesting news of the off-season for the champs has been the saga involving JR Smith. As we are halfway through the preseason, the Cavs have yet to re-sign this important piece to the team’s run in last year’s playoff and their somewhat surprising comeback against the Warriors. If Smith does not re-sign, the Cavs will need to find a shooter who they can place on the court with Lebron James to help spread the court for King James.

In the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks, who boast a roster with a number of veteran additions and a budding star in sophomore Kristaps Porzingis, are all sitting at 2 – 1 after three preseason games. Many feel that these are the teams that will contend with the Cavs for the Eastern Conference crown this season, although most experts feel that there is a sizable gap between the Cavs and the rest of the pack in the East. It will be interesting to see if there is a team that is ready to take the next step and beat the Cavs or if Cleveland will roll to the NBA finals rested and ready to take on the Western Conference.

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