As the countdown begins for the NBA 2015/16 season there were a few significant changes during the off season which will be in the spotlight without a doubt. Let us take a sneak peek into how these events may affect the color of this season!
1. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love’s comeback from Injury (Cleveland Cavs)
Disaster struck the Cleveland Cavaliers not once but twice during the last NBA season which left LeBron and Cavs fans both in Sri Lanka and abroad heartbroken. Two of their 3 key players got injured at the worst time possible. The first to fall was Kevin Love who was the victim of, what many would say was, a dirty play by Celtics Center Kelly Olynik. The Cavs were up 3 games to zero in the First round of the 7 match series play offs against the Celtics. It was half way through the first quarter and the Cavs were up by 18 points to 10 when both Love and Olynik were chasing a rebound and Olynik very clearly locked and pulled Love by his arm resulting in a shoulder injury causing Love, who was a very key piece to the Cavs outfit to miss the rest of the 2014/15 season. This situation proved to be quite complicated for the Eastern Conference Power House as LeBron was expected to play more as a Power Forward, a position he personally doesn’t prefer playing compared to his usual small forward spot which gives him more leverage in spacing the floor and controlling the game. It also meant that the Cavs lost a consistent 3 Point weapon as Love could really spread the floor for a big man and knock down those long range shots. It also put a lot of pressure on Cavaliers big men Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mosgov to grab the rebounds as Kevin Love was one of the best rebounders in the league.
During the off season there were a lot of rumors that Love might make a quiet exit from the Cavs and possibly sign with the Boston Celtics, however the clouds seem to have cleared now and Love has resigned with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The second catastrophe the Cavaliers had to face was when their star point guard and the 2014 FIBA World Cup MVP Kyrie Irving got sidelined with a knee injury after experiencing a nasty twist when he tried to execute a behind the back move against Clay Thompson in Game 01 of the NBA finals. Mind you Kyrie Irving was looking smooth throughout the playoffs, especially in Game 1 of the NBA finals, putting on some magical numbers both offensively and defensively in Game 1, blocking Steph Curry’s shots on two different occasions. He was also working exceedingly well with Timofey Mosgov on the Pick and rolls either by making the mid-range jumper off the screen or by connecting with the Russian big man on the alley-oops. His injury increased the pressure on LeBron as he had to now assume duties as the unofficial Point guard of the team. Kyrie Irving is not only a superior ball handler but also an elite scorer and floor general; his services were badly missed by the Eastern conference champions who unfortunately could not end the season as NBA champions.
However, both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will be back on court with the Cavs and Cavs fans in Sri Lanka and all over the world will be having their fingers crossed that fate be kinder to them this time around.
2. Deandre’s Free Agency Flip-Flop and his First trip to Dallas Mavericks
This offseason was no short of drama and the ‘Drama of all Dramas’ was staged when Deandre Jordan suffered from what some would refer to as an offseason ‘Brain Cramp’! I am very confident that none of you Sri Lankan Mavs fans will forgive what Deandre did to the Dallas franchise by first promising that he would sign up with them and then declining to do so at the last moment. The implications of this decision are far more complex than what it seems.
The Dallas Mavericks who had a strong outing in the last NBA season had already committed to this trade and had made the decision of building their team around Deandre Jordan. The 6’11” big man was to be their defensive anchor and everyone else was a second choice. They had acquired shooting guard: Wesley Mathews, whose game style would suit that of Deandre. They had also done something that they might regret for a long time to come, they let go of Tyson Chandler, the lankier Center who was a key part of their 2011 NBA championship. Not only does Tyson Chandler possess a very similar playing style to that of Deandre’s with his ring-rattling alley-oop dunks and massive blocks inside the D but he has more experience than the former and is an NBA champion which might put him ahead of Deandre in the minds of some NBA experts. However there is no coming back from that trade now, as Chandler is now with the Phoenix Suns.
The Dallas Mavericks also didn’t consider negotiating extensively with the former Indiana Pacers Center Roy Hibbert as Mark Cuban who is the owner of the Mavericks franchise was confident that Deandre was going to sign up with them. All of this spells disaster for this elite Western-conference franchise which usually has consistently good performances.
Only time will tell how Dirk Nowitzky and company are going to recover from this nightmare, but one thing is for certain, Deandre Jordan will be booed from the start to the end the moment he steps foot in the American Airlines center in Dallas. The Fans reaction on social media via videos and posts bear testimony to this. Even Sri Lankan Mavs fans will be booing at Deandre sitting in front of their television sets, because DJ has mostly certainly wronged the Mavs!
3. KD’s Return- The Return of ‘Durantula’
Kevin Durant at just 26 years of age is expected, by some, to become NBA’s All-Time leading scorer surpassing Kareem Abdul Jabbar at top spot. Such is the reputation of this Basketball player who has won 4 NBA Scoring titles, NBA Rookie of the year and an Olympic Gold medal in addition to his 2014 NBA MVP Title. He was drafted in the year 2007 as the 2nd overall pick by the then Seattle Sonics (Now Oklahoma City Thunder) and ever since has achieved great feats including a 2014 NBA Finals appearance which has promoted him in the eyes of NBA experts as the 2nd best player currently in the NBA behind LeBron James. Durant suffered an ankle injury 27 games into the 2014/2015 NBA season in a game against the Golden state warriors in December when he crossed over Draymond Green but stepped on the foot of Mareese Speights on his way to the basket. He was sidelined for the rest of the season which is the most probable cause for OKC Thunder failing to make it to the playoffs despite Russel Westbrook having a spectacular season.
Kevin Durant, also known as the ‘Durantula’, has been making great progress during the offseason and has attended all training camps with the Thunder and had even attended a training camp at Los Angles recently with his team. KD looks ready to go and all Sri Lankan Thunder fans, I am sure, cannot wait to see the All-Star back in action. With the way Westbrook played last year, If Kevin Durant could repeat his 2014 MVP performance Oklahoma City Thunder would be a very scary prospect to go up against.
Keep it logged on to ThePapare.com as we continue our journey through the coming weeks. Until then keep balling!