The 2017 All-Star Weekend lived up to its hype and more. From the many wow moments courtesy the Dunk Contest, the 66th All-Star Game, the 3-Point Contest and the Skills Challenge, to our very own Tanmay Bhat’s and Gursimran Khamba’s adventures in New Orleans, there was plenty of action, adventure and fun headlining the festivities. And to top all that, there was the Kevin Durant announcement, which will see the Golden State Warriors superstar heading to India in the 2017 off-season, following the NBA Finals.
But before Durant lands in India, there is so much NBA action to look forward to. With the break following the All-Star Weekend zipped by, teams and players are now focussed on the 2017 post-season. Home-court advantage, playoffs seedings and the urgency to grab the eighth and final spot in both Conferences, will see the period between now and mid-April feature some most exciting match-ups. With that perspective, here’s a look at some of the important storylines to follow:
Boogie and The Brow cme together
What a blockbuster trade and what timing. DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans right on the day that he was making his appearance at the All-Star Game. His coming to New Orleans should see him pair up with one of the most versatile, young forwards in the game in Anthony Davis. Together, Cousins and Davis will make for a beastly frontcourt pairing, with few teams in the league capable of defending them. What will be interesting to see, though, is whether Boogie is a positive presence in the New Orleans’ changing room and can combine with Davis to lead the Pelicans’ playoffs charge.
Can Russ better Oscar Robertson?
55 seasons ago, Oscar Robertson managed the Holy Grail in basketball when he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists over the length of the entire 1961-62 NBA season. Robertson managed the historic accomplishment by posting 41 triple-doubles (another NBA record) in that season. Nobody has come close to Robertson’s achievement except Russell Westbrook , who at the time of the All-Star break is averaging 31.1 ppg, 10.5 rpg and 10.1 apg. Westbrook already has 27 TD’s this season and should he manage what Roberston managed then, it will be no small achievement. The Thunder point-guard didn’t get a starting place in the All-Star Game, but by emulating Robertson, Westbrook will be reminding fans of just how special a talent he is.
The King chases the Ghost in Chicago
LeBron James won two titles with the Miami Heat. And then last year, he led the Cleveland Cavaliers in heroic style to their first NBA ring. James is pretty much the best NBA player since Michael Jordan retired, and with those three rings in the bag, it is Jordan alone that James wishes to emulate. He said so as much in the 2016 off season: “I looked up to him [Jordan] so much. I think it's cool to put myself in position to be one of those great players, but if I can ever put myself in position to be the greatest player, that would be something extraordinary.” And if James wants to be compared to Jordan, he needs to get to MJ’s six rings. At 32, James isn’t getting any younger. The window for catching up with Jordan, therefore, is pretty short. With the Cavs nicely placed to lead the Eastern Conference charge in the 2017 NBA Finals, James will have yet another opportunity to close the gap between himself and Jordan.
Perfection has a new definition
Last year, the Golden State Warriors were pretty much on course for a second straight NBA title.
They had posted an NBA best 73-9 regular season record and were 3-1 up against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals before capitulating to their opponents.
However, with the acquisition of Kevin Durant in the off season, the Warriors have become an even more formidable entity. Their league-best record at the All-Star break is proof of their pre-eminence.
Yet, everything would come to nought if the Warriors once again fail to land an NBA ring. It would be a wasted year for one of the most talented group of individuals playing together on the same team in NBA history.
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