After an offseason filled with player comebacks, emoji wars, laughable memes and huge free agent moves the NBA has finally graced us with its presence once again for what will be another great year of basketball. After the first 3 weeks of the season it’s apparent that the Golden State Warriors are on a mission to repeat and have shot out the gates with an undefeated record. The San Antonio Spurs and their new superstar acquisition Lamarcus Aldridge look good and poised to give Warriors a run for their money atop the west however the big question with them is if they can stay healthy throughout the year with one of the oldest rosters in the league. Nine teams in the West currently are all within 2 games of each other with the big surprise of the Denver Nuggets and rookie Emmanuel Mudiay in the 8th spot right now. The Thunder are already dealing with an injury to former MVP Kevin Durant however Russell Westbrook continues to prove just how good of a freak athlete he is. Expect the Thunder with a healthy KD and Westbrook to be among the top contenders for a title this year. If you’re a Rockets fan or just love James Harden’s beard don’t worry. This slow start is nothing to be worried about as only 10 games have been played. However a loss to the then winless Brooklyn Nets shows that analytics doesn’t work all the time. Although it’s early look out for either the Phoenix Suns with their guard play or Utah Jazz powered by Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert to be around late in the season.

For the first time in what seems like forever, the Eastern Conference is actually good. The Cleveland Cavaliers as most people figured are the standouts and favorites early to return to the playoffs and possibly the NBA Finals. However there is finally some stiff competition. Chicago is making a case for themselves behind Jimmy Butler who just seems to be getting better and better each game, a healthy-ish D- Rose and one of the more formidable front courts in the league. Despite losing Demarre Caroll the Atlanta Hawks are still a force to be reckoned with in the East. Look for them to be around 3-4 by the time the season ends with close to 50 wins. The Heat, behind a rejuvenated Dwayne Wade, healthy Chris Bosh and rookie Justice Winslow will prove to be one of the surprises out of the East this year. Everyone was talking about The Bucks after their huge free agent win acquiring Greg Monroe but so far they have been subpar at .500 so far. But with Jabari Parker getting back into form after injury had him out last season, their front court size and solid backcourt play will have them in contention for a playoff spot. Watch out for the Indiana Pacers who now have their star Paul George back and Washington looking to be a player with the lethal combo of John Wall and Bradley Beal. And all those New York fans blinded by Porzing-mania right now can relax. If there is any team besides the Raptors coming out of the Atlantic it will be the Boston Celtics sneaking in at an 8th seed. Also don’t look now but Detroit has a big man and he’s pretty good. The Eastern conference playoff race this year will be great because it won’t be a race of mediocre teams as long as your team doesn’t play in Brooklyn, New York or Philadelphia.

-JT

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