Ahead of the Draft, what’s been happening in the NBA?

It’s the NBA Draft tonight and there are set to be a lot of moving parts around the league as teams try to set themselves up to be in the best position to challenge the newly crowned Champs. Andy Turner reports…

The Golden State Warriors Are Champs – GOAT Talk Ensues

The Golden State Warriors are NBA Champs for the second time in three seasons. Their three year run goes like this:

2015 – They win a first NBA title in 2015, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals.

2016 – They win an NBA record 73 regular season games (beating a record set by Michael Jordan’s Bulls) before losing in 7 games (after being 3-1 up) to an inspired Lebron James who finally brought a Championship to Cleveland.

2017 – They sign Kevin Durant as a free agent, cruise through the regular season before going 16-1 in the playoffs, with that one loss coming against Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

They have three of the best players in the NBA in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant.  Their bench strength is scary too and if talk is to be believed their big players are happy to take less than the maximum they could make in order for players such as Andre Igoudala, Draymond Green and various others to get rewarded. One  word: DYNASTY.

Will Lebron James leave Cleveland, again?

Lebron doesn’t like losing and he has twice shown that he is prepared to move to maximise his chances of winning.  He now seems to think, probably correctly, that Cleveland does not have the bench depth to match the Warriors. Then again, few teams do and Cleveland are still the ‘best of the rest’ and cruised through the Eastern conference play-offs.  

Talk in the off-season is that James may soon be eyeing a move to LA, as he has business interests there as well as a burgeoning acting career. However, the Lakers seem years away from contending so the Clippers seemed a more likely destination.

In the last couple of days though the Lakers have traded two players to the Brooklyn Nets with what looks like a salary dump, as they prepare to add Lonzo Ball and ensure they have cap space ready for Lebron being a free agent in 2018.

In a pre-emptive move Cleveland fired their GM, David Griffin, although the joke has been that he was superfluous anyway as Lebron runs the team.  Expect Cleveland to try and entice some better players, with Kevin Love looking most likely to be sacrificed as possible trade bait.

That might be easier said than done though, as the talk coming out of Cleveland since Griffin was sacked is that this is a franchise in chaos, and there were even reports that some Cavs players warned Chicago’s Jimmy Butler not to accept a trade to Cleveland because it’s a sinking ship.  

The NBA draft is actually quite interesting this year (Midnight BST Thursday)

The NBA draft uses a lottery system, meaning the worse you are the greater your chances are to be drawn out of a real lottery and get the first pick, or second etc… 

This year the lottery winner was the Boston Celtics, thanks to a trade with the Nets a few years back.

There was much debate about who will be taken first in the draft. Lonzo Ball is an unquestionably talented player out of UCLA and was at one point clear favourite to be taken first. The problem is he has one of ‘those’ fathers in  Lavar Ball, who through his ‘Big Baller Brand’ has already been ‘promoting’ his son, making it clear he does not want him to be drafted by anyone but the Lakers as he has released a $400+ dollar sneaker.

He may get his wish as the Celtics have traded picks with the Philadelphia 76ers who were picking third. It is widely believed that the 76ers will select Markelle Fultz with the first pick and then with the second pick the Lakers will pick Ball. We’ll see.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge may trade again or may select Josh Jackson; the Celtics are stock piling picks and are a couple of impact players from challenging Cleveland as the best in the East. 

Talk is that the Bulls attempted to trade Butler to the 76ers for the 3rd pick, but were rebuffed. This is interesting because the Celtics, who are after free agent Gordon Hayward (a player who played his college basketball for Celtics coach Brad Stevens) would surely be interested in sending the 3rd pick to Chicago for Butler who they tried to acquire during the regular season.

The point of all these moves and potential moves is that teams are despertately trying to give themselves a chance to take on the Warriors. For the casual US Sports fan who might be reading this, if you get the chance to watch Golden State I’d urge you to try it, because when they click, which is most nights, it really is a thing of beauty. 

Not everyone is a fan though and for some the NBA may have what is known in the NFL as a “Patriot problem”. The Warriors are such a dominant team, but so far it has yet to affect the all important TV ratings, although it should be pointed out that this year’s playoffs were utterly irrelevant until the Cavs and Warriors faced off.

More competition is needed, and hopefully the moves made across the NBA before and during the draft will ensure that is the case.

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Andy Turner
College Football Anorak from Britains Steel City. Boomer, GO Jets
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