Everything you need to know about the upcoming 2016/17 NBA season
Last year’s NBA season produced some jaw-dropping moments and culminated in LeBron James lifting Cleveland Cavaliers’ first ever championship.
However, Golden State Warriors countered by making a blockbusting free agency move for Kevin Durant, which sees the Californian team become possibly the greatest side in history.
Here, we take a took at some things to look out for as the NBA season approaches…
Dubs add Durant
After a year of speculation, numerous meetings and rumours, Durant chose to join the team that triumphed over his Oklahoma City Thunder side in the Western Conference semi-finals last term. The move has left a sour taste in many people’s mouths, including that of his once friend and teammate Russell Westbrook.
Durant has now had a successful preseason with the Dubs and slotted seamlessly into a side stacked full of exceptional talent, including perhaps the greatest shooter of all time Steph Curry, dominant Draymond Green and sharpshooter Klay Thompson.
Warriors were remarkably exposed in the Finals and blew a 3-1 series lead. In games five and six, Cleveland deployed isolation plays that Kyrie Irving and LeBron ate up. The addition of another superstar should help Golden State avoid a repeat and puts them in a superb position to win the next few championships. Oakland outfit Dubs are 8/11 to claim the 2016/17 Championship.
Durant will add relentless scoring and a presence in the post that Steve Kerr’s side severely lacked, as Curry failed to step up and Green was suspended for lashing out during the Finals.
LeBron leads East Coast comeback
For the first time in over 50 years, the city of Cleveland held a championship winning parade. Cleveland Cavaliers, who so many doubted when coming into the Finals, overcame previous champions and 73-win record Dubs in Game 7.
LeBron was greeted as a hero when he returned to Cleveland in 2014 after winning two Championships in Miami, and promised to win a title in his home state. Two years later, he fulfilled his promise with almost superhuman performances.
Despite overturning the odds by coming back from a 3-1 series deficit, a feat never before done in the NBA Finals, Cavs aren’t favourites for the title at 7/2.
The Wine and Gold are still the best team in the Eastern Conference by a mile, making a trip the Finals almost inevitable this coming term. However, Warriors, their likely opponents, have strengthened what was an already a historic team, and will pose a greater threat than the Oakland outfit put out last term.
If Cavs hope to emulate their feat of last year, they need to again dominate rebounds and play the physical basketball Kerr’s men couldn’t cope with. Tristan Thompson was a huge factor in doing this and impressed throughout the Playoffs and have him tied to a five year contract worth $82m last year. It may have taken a few months, but maverick shooting guard JR Smith also re-signed with Cleveland.
Rebuilding the NBA’s most successful team started three years ago, when fading Boston Celtics superstars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were traded to Brooklyn Nets for their valuable draft picks.
The trade was a masterstroke by Celtics general manager and former player Danny Ainge. C’s trade saw them collect some of the most valuable assets in basketball.
Not only do Boston have Brooklyn Nets’ next two first-round picks and a future star in Jaylen Brown, Celtics still possess the financial power and assets to either trade for a superstar, or wait until the 2017 free agency when players like Blake Griffin and Westbrook are available. Al Horford has already joined the project and adds star factor to C’s roster.
Head coach Stevens is the perfect fit for resurgent Boston and has a calming influence on the youthful side. Expect Celtics to be a real force in the East this season and challenge for the second spot in the East.
Another team to keep an eye on is the Minnesota Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and rookie Kris Dunn make up an incredibly youthful, yet talented core. Don’t expect the team to challenge this year, but Tom Thibodeau’s men will be immense fun to watch this term. Give Timberwolves three years, and they will be in prime position to compete for championships.
How to bet on the NBA
Coral offers a wide array of markets and fantastic odds to bet on. From super scoring specials to handicaps and in-play action available from tip-off, we’ve got you covered.
Handicap markets are popular in basketball betting and can often be confusing. Here’s how a handicap bet works. If you bet on a team with a handicap of -8, they must win by more than eight points to cover their handicap and win you your bet.