The NBA returns to our screens in the early hours of October 28th and myclubbetting.com basketball enthusiast Calum Chinchen has prepared this complete season preview containing everything you need to know about the upcoming campaign.
All the quoted prices are an average from across the industry and were correct at the time of publish.
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have arguably the strongest starting five in the NBA when everybody is fully fit, with the presence of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love causing defences from all across the country to shake in their boots. LeBron James returned to his hometown club last season, signing for Cleveland after an incredibly successful spell in Miami which saw him win two NBA Championships. There is no doubting that LeBron is among the greatest players of his generation, and many see him as the heir to Michael Jordan’s throne as the greatest player in history. The incredibly talented Small Forward excels in all areas of the game and is equally comfortable when crashing boards defensively as he is when converting routine lay-ups at the other end of the court.
Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are also massive players for Cleveland. Irving is one of the best point guards in the league, and loves to dominate the basketball, while the giant Love is a man who was born to convert three pointers when under pressure. The three mentioned players will need to combine as they did during the regular season last year, rather than their sub-standard showing in the playoff final series, where the Cavaliers were comfortably beaten by Golden State. We see Cleveland making a real charge for the NBA Championship this year, comfortably taking the Central Division and Eastern Conference titles in the process.
The injury suffered by key man Derrick Rose has affected everybody associated with the Chicago Bulls. The popular point guard suffered a leg fracture in pre-season practice and now looks likely to miss a large chunk of the season. Rose showed his typically dominant style of play throughout last season, and was absolutely superb during their Eastern Conference play-off campaign. Rose will need to return sooner, rather than later if The Bulls are going to mount a realistic charge for the lucrative NBA Championship. That being said, we see the presence of powerful center Joakim Noah and talented power forward Pau Gasol being enough for Chicago to finish behind Cleveland in the Central Division, thus making it to the playoffs.
The Miami Heat really struggled to come to terms with the loss of LeBron James last season, and that had a huge influence on many of their performances, especially in big games. Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh made up the other two thirds of ‘The Big Three’ when LeBron was with the Heat, and the fact that both men have stayed with the club is a huge boost for everyone associated. The pair are among the best players in the league and will be looking to show that they don’t need to rely on a certain Mr James in order to be successful. Bosh is a converted center who is at his best when dominating opponents with his typically aggressive style, while Wade is arguably the best shooter in the NBA when operating at top-form. The Heat seem to have finally moved on from LeBron and have looked a revolutionised team during preseason. We see them as a surprise package this year and really fancy them to beat Atlanta to the Southeast Division title and cause problems in the resulting playoff campaign.
We fully expect the Toronto Raptors to dominate the Atlantic Division. The Canadian outfit play arguably the best team basketball in the entire NBA, and use their salary budget across the entire roster, rather than focussing on expensive stars. The Raptors are at their strongest when DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are combining on the court, with the two men contributing to a large majority of the teams total points during games. There is no doubt in our minds that Toronto will win The Atlantic Division, however as with last year’s campaign, we see them falling short in the playoffs.
BEST BET: MIAMI TO WIN SOUTHEAST DIVISION @ 3.00
The Golden State Warriors deservedly won last year’s NBA Championship, claiming the Pacific Division and Western Conference titles on route. Golden State key man, Stephen Curry was named MVP last season, after he led his side to an impressive 67 wins during the season and individually breaking the regular season three point record. The prolific point guard threw an unbelievable 286 three pointers during the regular season, and averaged a more than impressive 23.8 point average. The most impressive thing was that Curry didn’t let his form drop during the playoffs, recording a 26.0 points average during the finals, thus leading his side to victory against Cleveland. As impressive as the Warriors were last year, we just feel a lot of their success was down to one man, and any injury to Stephen Curry may prevent them from reaching their potential during this campaign. Sadly, we cant see a repeat of last seasons glory for Golden State.
Kevin Durant had an injury hit campaign for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year. The 2013/14 MVP was hardly on the court last season, and that massively contributed to the Thunder’s disappointing campaign. That being said, when Durant is fit and well, Oklahoma look like one of the most dangerous sides in the entire NBA, especially when the towering small forward finds himself on court at the same time as Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook. Spaniard Ibaka is one of the most defensively dominant players around, using his 6 foot 10 inch frame to his advantage when crashing boards at both ends of the court. On the other hand, Russell Westbrook resembles an artist on the court, with the talented point guard often plotting attacks in a patient and precise manner before releasing the ball to the always prolific Durant, who usually converts. If the three mentioned men stay fit and together for the entire campaign, then we see no reason why the Thunder can’t conquer the Northwest Division and the resulting Western Conference title on route to the finals.
The San Antonio Spurs had a below par season last year, exiting the playoffs in the first round after defeat to the LA Clippers. Tim Duncan is a man who everyone associates with the Spurs, and the veteran center is going into his nineteenth season with the club after signing an extension in the summer. Frenchman Tony Parker has become one of the most prolific Point Guards on the planet over the years and his scoring ability has become crucial to the Spurs. We fully expect San Antonio to make an improvement on last year’s disappointing showing, and fancy them to pip James Harden’s Houston Rockets to the Southwest Division crown, but we don’t see them challenging for the NBA Championship if we are honest.
The LA Clippers are now without a doubt, the dominant force in Los Angeles, with the Lakers no longer being a match for Doc River’s exciting young team. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are the key men for the Clippers, and when both men bring their best to the court, it often means their team comes away with a victory. Eight time NBA all-star, Chris Paul is a point guard who is relatively short in stature, measuring in at a mere 6 foot. That being said, the man commonly known as CP3 has the ability to single-handedly control games from start to finish, and often finds himself at the top of the NBA assists and steals standings at the end of the regular season. Blake Griffin is a man who benefits from the generosity and unselfish style of CP3, and the prolific power forward is himself a five time NBA all-star. Griffin is commonly known for his crowd pleasing dunks, but the more educated basketball enthusiast will know that he is far from a one trick pony. The Oklahoma City native is a wonderful athlete who has a rounded game, and is equally comfortable when rebounding or scoring, however Clippers fans will be hoping to see Griffin add more assists to his game during this campaign. We can see the Clippers building on a successful 2014-15 season with another solid campaign this year, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them reach the Western Conference finals.
BEST BET: OKLAHOMA TO WIN WESTERN CONFERENCE @ 6.00
There is no doubt that the Western Conference is going to be the more exciting watch for neutral fan this season. We fully expect Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma and the LA Clippers to reach the Western Conference playoffs, and feel that the competitive nature of the games will take enough out of them to hinder them come the NBA Finals.
We can see the now settled LeBron James dominating opponents in The Eastern Conference and leading his Cleveland side all the way to the NBA finals, and in our minds picking up the regular season WVP title on route.
The fact that Cleveland are in a far easier division and conference to their nearest rivals may allow them to rest key men during the regular season, allowing them to freshen up for the inevitable playoff campaign.
In our minds, that will be enough to see the Cleveland Cavaliers lifting the 2015/16 NBA Championship.
CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS: CLEVELAND @ 3.80
REGULAR SEASON MVP: LEBRON JAMES @ 4.00
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