NBA season preview: Three title contenders: Lakers, Celtics and Warriors headline top teams of 2018

Randy Sforza, Staff Writer

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NBA fans around the globe rejoice! Contrary to the last few NBA seasons, this year has countless impactful story lines. Heading into tip-off, more teams than usual are considered title-contenders.

Finally, a season where the conclusion is not as clear on who will be holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Nevertheless, three teams have overshadowed every other franchise with big storylines and championship contention leading up to this NBA season.

Los Angeles Lakers

Have you heard yet? Well, if you missed it, the greatest basketball player of the current generation decided to take his talents to the West Coast. Los Angeles finally acquired a big-name free agent, and he may be the biggest name they could have possibly ever drawn, LeBron James.

The beautiful thing about Los Angeles signing James is that they are not getting a washed-up veteran who is trying to coast through his final seasons looking at palm trees and clear skies.

Last year, LeBron performed extremely well, averaging 27.5 points per game to go along with 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds. LeBron is on a mission to pass Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player to ever live.

He went to the Lakers to give that starving franchise an NBA Championship because he knows that will finally ascend him over Michael.

Of course, LeBron will dominate the LA headlines this year, but this team has a legit chance to be a championship contender.

Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations, has attempted to recreate the “Showtime Lakers.” Over the years of suffering, the team was able to draft talented players like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. James plus this young core of remarkable talent will be exciting to watch.

The Lakers also added savvy veterans Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and JaVale McGee to give this team some toughness to go with the overwhelming talent. How far can LeBron take this Lakers team in his debut season?

Golden State Warriors

The champs are back and better than ever. After winning back-to-back titles and three in the past four years, Golden State Warriors General Manager Bob Myers had himself a very successful offseason.

First, Kevin Durant resigned a two-year deal with the team that automatically puts the team as the favorite to win-it-all (again).

Next, they were able to keep the majority of their role players that have been key contributors to the winning cultured developed in Silicon Valley.
Finally, Myers pulled off what seems to be the heist of the offseason, when he signed the four-time All-Star whom many consider the best center in basketball today, Demarcus Cousins. What is that old saying? The rich get richer.

Yes, the back-to-back champions signed a player who averaged 25.2 points, 5.4 assist, and 10.7 rebounds per game last season, before he tore his left Achilles tendon.

If Cousins is 80 percent of the player he used to be, the Warriors have the potential to go for the coveted threepeat. In the modern NBA, only two other franchises have ever threepeated: the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Could the Warriors make history and become only the third franchise to threepeat?

Boston Celtics

Welcome back, All-Star Gordon Hayward and NBA Champion Kyrie Irving, Boston missed you.

Last season, the Celtics made it all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals without their two superstar players. In addition, the team was led by rookie small forward Jayson Tatum.

In the playoffs, Tatum averaged 18.5 points per game on better than 50 percent shooting from the field. Those were some impressive numbers, putting into account that he was only a 20-year-old rookie who can’t even buy a drink at the bar. Over the offseason, Tatum worked-out with five-time NBA Champion and Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant on improving his all-around basketball mechanics.

Boston General Manager Danny Ainge has constructed a well-oiled machine led by one of the greatest basketball minds in the game today, Head Coach Brad Stevens.

Stevens took a team that lost its two best players and turned them into a title-contender. It has been almost a decade since the Celtics earned a berth to the NBA Finals.

Boston is the favorite in the Eastern Conference and anything  short-of-at-least playing in the finals would be a disappointment, especially since LeBron left the east.

In yesterday’s opening night, the Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers by a score of 105-87, and the Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-100. Jason Tatum led the way for the Celtics with 23 points while Steph Curry led the Warriors past the Thunder with 32 points of his own.

NBA Finals prediction:

Boston Celtics versus the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron wins the championship in his first year in LA against former costar Kyrie Irving. The Lakers win the series 4-2.