With 2017 in the rear view mirror and 2018 on the horizon, what should NBA fans be hoping for this year?
10-A competitive Finals. Regardless of what happens in the 2018 Finals, fans can look forward to either a new champion or witness one of the greatest dynasties in the history of team sports. As hard to believe as it is, no NBA team since the 11-championships-in-13-season-Celtics has ever won three titles in four seasons. After the Rockets’ end-of-year struggles, the Warriors are again the owners of the league’s best record, but 29-8 is their worst record through 37 games in the last four seasons (last year 31-6, two seasons ago 35-2, and three seasons ago 31-6). Does that mean they are primed to be knocked off or bored and ready to peak for another Championship run? Either way, I hope it is competitive.
9-The Lakers being bad for a little longer. I’d love to see the Thunder and the Cavs gel. While I hate superteams, I hate the Lakers more. If Paul George succeeds with the Thunder he is less likely to go to the Lakers. If Isaiah Thomas gels with Lebron and the Cavs go back to the Finals, Lebron is more likely to stay put. There is nothing I would enjoy more than the Lakers having a ton of money to sign free agents and to have their top acquisition to be someone like Aaron Gordon. If George and/or Lebron don’t come to LA, that decreases the chances of another star signing with LA. Am I the only one enjoying the Lakers’ suffering? While they have some promising young players, they are still a few years away from winning in a meaningful way without a top-notch free agent signing.
8-The All-Star draft to work. The NBA All-Star Game has been a joke for 20 years and I’d love it if this draft makes the game more competitive. If Lebron and Steph pick teams, in a televised draft and create drama and feuding and hurt feelings, that would make the game more competitive, which would be great to see.
7-A dunk contest with Aaron Gordon, Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Bell, and Larry Nance Jr. Too bad Zach Lavine won’t be available. Gordon’s creativity should have won two years ago, but Lavine was out of this world. I want to see Gordon bring it again this year against high flying rookies Mitchell and Bell and the dunk of the year performer, Nance (FYI the dunk of the year was Nance over Durant). How fun would it be to see Nance become the first second generation Dunk Contest Champion? My bet is on the high flying Mitchell. It seems like every game he has at least one, “What did he just do?!?” play. I want to see much more of that in 2018.
6-Ben Simmons hit a three point shot. A guard averaging 37 minutes per game and 16.6 points on 50.7 percent shooting who has not made a single three-pointer in 35 games is unheard of in today’s NBA. It would be nice to see him hit at least one three-pointer in his first season, he’s only shot nine and I think seven of them were against-the-clock heaves. If Simmons can develop a jump shot, he could be a multiple MVP winner. If he doesn’t, he could be doomed to be the next Tyreke Evans or Michael Carter-Williams.
5-A charity night. In 2018, the NBA should adopt a new tradition where players could opt to participate in a charity night where their salaries for a single game would be donated to a charity of their choice. Players would not be forced to participate and would be allowed to choose their own non-profit if they have one. How much good could the NBA do in a single night for their communities? I’d love to see it.
4-A healthy Playoffs. I want a healthy Isaiah Thomas, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, James Harden, Steph Curry, Joel Embiid, all of them. I want all stars back and healthy. I don’t want to see a single Playoff series decided by an injury. I don’t want to hear Spurs fans talking about how they would have beaten the Warriors had Kawhi been healthy or Clippers fans saying they would have won had they not lost their two best players to injury or Cavs fans claiming they would have knocked off the Warriors with a healthy Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving or Warriors fans complaining that they were one Steph Curry knee away from going for their fourth in a row. It seems like every season injuries give fan bases everywhere excuses for losing. I want one post season where all teams are 100 percent healthy and we can really see who the best team is.
3-Parity. The NBA has zero teams with single digit wins and only two teams (Houston and Golden State) with single digit losses. The Warriors are on pace to have the league’s best record at 64-18. The last time the league’s best record was so poor was 2013-14 when the Spurs won 62 games. That season, the Bucks had the leagues worst record at 15-67 and the Sixers won just 19 games. This season, Even the league’s worst teams this season, the Hawks and Lakers, are on pace to win 22 and 25 games respectively. This kind of parity has not happened for years. Who knew that the secret to getting a competitive balance was to allow teams to build these superteams of multiple All-Stars? Chemistry actually does matter and it is showing this year. It’s fun to not have a single doormat in the league. Then again, maybe this won’t matter when the Warriors start trying again, but it’s fun to dream.
2-The Decision Part 3. All bets are off on what Lebron does when he becomes a free agent this summer. He has proven that he is willing to leave Cleveland, but can he do it again? He has fulfilled his promise to bring Cleveland a title, so could Cavs fans really blame/hate him if he did leave? Rumors have circulated that Lebron will go to the Lakers (I doubt it, unless he can talk one or two of his buddies to join him there) or the Rockets (a much more likely scenario in my mind), or Philadelphia (they seem a little young for this stage of Lebron’s championship or bust). This single decision will affect the entire power balance of the league for the next three years. While Lebron will be entering his 16th season (a point where many are calling it a career), Lebron has never looked better and he appears to be motivated to set a new standard of the duration of a player’s “prime” and what a player can do in terms of minutes. He is a complete freak of nature and where he goes will impact who raises the Larry O’Brien trophy for the next three seasons.
1-I would gladly give up all of the other items on this list, if I could get this one: Not seeing a single headline involving LaVar Ball. I am done hearing about every event and non-event of this sexist egomaniac and his Big Baller Brand sons. Please, everyone reading this, do the world a favor and stop clicking on any headline with LaVar Ball’s name on it. If you ignore it for long enough, he will go away. This is the last time Ball’s name will appear in one of my articles.
Here’s hoping for a great 2018.