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10 Curious Questions For the 2018-19 NBA Season

There are a bunch of intriguing, head-scratching questions as we labor our way through the early months on the NBA season schedule. A central theme to many of these questions revolves around the relocation of the player many feel is the best basketball player in the world.

LeBron James’ shift from the Eastern Conference to the West Coast automatically brings questions about a further shift in power westward. In addition, like in every season, there is an interest in which teams may have surprisingly successful seasons, and which newcomers will step to the forefront. Here are 10 questions to get you thinking about the new NBA season.

1.  Which Eastern Conference teams legitimately have a chance to make the NBA Finals?

For eight consecutive seasons, whichever team that LeBron James played for in the Eastern Conference was invariably the consensus favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the finals.

But, King James has packed up his royal court and taken his game to Tinseltown, so that streak will be broken. If he earns a ninth straight trip to the Finals, many will be shocked. However, one thing is growing more obvious by the game.

Someone other than the Cleveland Cavaliers is going to represent the eastern half the league. Toronto and Boston are the general top vote getters. Milwaukee is a difficult team to play, and Philadelphia fans are still in the middle of “trusting the process”.

But, the Celtics are having growing pains early in 2018, as well too are the Sixers. If a thirst for Finals glory is the ultimate driving force, look for the Eastern Conference representative to come from outside the continental United States.

2.  Is 2018-19 Finally Going to Be the Year of the Raptor?

Well, Toronto fans can breathe a little easier, even at this early stage of the season. Not only have the Raptors roared out to the top of the Eastern Conference, but they’re playing very well in the process.

So far, Kawhi Leonard has played in all but four of Toronto’s first 14 games. The Raptors stars look good, and there are even healthy surprises like power forward Pascal Siakam. But, the biggest reason for optimism north of the border is the fall of the Cavaliers.

Cleveland has stuck a dagger in the hearts of Raptor fans during the Eastern Conference playoffs in recent years. Rest easy Raptor fans; you will not face LeBron James in the playoffs, so this may be your year.

3.  When will the process actually produce in the City of Brotherly Love?

Fans have trusted the process in Philadelphia for a handful of seasons now. That trust is beginning to show a little worse for the wear. Sure, untimely injuries have derailed a few key pieces of the 76er’s process, but the itch to be a contender is still nagging at the most faithful Philly supporter.

Sensing the growing angst in the City of Brotherly Love, Sixer’s management just pulled the trigger on the first big trade of the new season. Jimmy Buckets moves from the Timberwolves to Philadelphia.

Many in Minnesota are wondering why the Timberwolves’s brass shipped a superstar in Butler off to the 76ers. But, rest assured, Philadelphia fans aren’t complaining. The process just gained some more trust, and Philadelphia now has their own trio of superstars.

4.  Will the Cavaliers be “royally” bad without King James?

The short answer to this question should be obvious to most ardent NBA basketball fans. Cleveland just watched the greatest basketball player currently living on the planet pack up his game and head out west.

Two questions are immediately being answered in “Believe-Land”. The first one involves many of the supporting cast Cavalier management brought in to surround their superstar. Many scratched their heads, and many still are.

Cleveland’s current roster, albeit without their best player, simply is not playing well at all. The second question involves how much LeBron really meant to the Cavaliers. Combining these two concepts, the early season answer is a lot, a whole lot.

5.  If the Lakers make the playoffs, is LeBron the consensus MVP?

Now that LeBron has taken his royal stardom to Hollywood, where is he going to fall in the MVP conversation? Many pundits hold hard and fast to the premise, that to be in the MVP conversation you need to play for a team that is seriously “in the conversation”.

A lot of folks still believe, in spite of suiting up the best player in the world on a nightly basis, the Lakers are a year or two away from being a bonafide contender. However, what if LA makes some noise out west, even just a little more than previous seasons?

Will that propel the new-found savior of “Showtime” to the forefront of the conversation about who really is the most valuable player in the league? We all kind of know who that best player is, but can he win the MVP award playing in the Hollywood spotlight on an average team?

6. Is the Dirk done in Dallas?

The German-Giant slipped all the way to the ninth pick 20 years ago, landing in the lap of the Milwaukee Bucks. Maybe Milwaukee would have reaped the success of a superstar, European player decades earlier, if not for shipping Dirk Nowitzki off to Dallas, Texas.

What transpired over these last 20 years is Nowitzki brought a championship to Dallas and now sits third all-time in most minutes played. However, Nowitzki has limped into the new season without a single minute of court time thus far. While he might eventually be healthy enough to fill a limited role, is the era of Dirk done in the Big D?

7.  Which rookie will be the surprise of this year’s class?

Everyone had a strong hunch that Ben Simmons, Jason Tatum and Donovan Mitchell were going to post impressive statistics. Even Lauri Markkanen was on most rookie-radars prior to last season’s first tip-off.

However, many were surprised at how fast Kyle Kuzma materialized into a steady performer. Who will step to the forefront of this year’s rookie class? Most expert lists include the likes of Luka Doncic, Collin Sexton and Kevin Knox.

Keep an eye on another newcomer to the Hollywood Scene, Shea Gilgeous-Alexander. The LA Clippers, Los Angeles’s other team, are a perplexing unit. If they remain in the hunt, look for them to use their best players. Gilgeous-Alexander is one of them, and a lot of important court time may earn him consideration as the best in his class.

8.  Can the Dub Nation creep closer to the vaunted Celtics record for straight titles?

Sure, we’re still a long way from Golden State matching the historic streak of the old-time Boston Celtics. Founded as one of the original eight NBA franchises in 1946, Boston has the most NBA Championship banners dangling overhead.

The Bill Russell-led Celtics brought every championship banner home to Boston in the 1960s. A decade-long streak no one has even come close to duplicating, including the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls. However, the Warriors (dubbed the Dub Nation), have been part of now four consecutive finals.

If not for the first championship in eons for Cleveland sports fans, Golden State would be working on being crowned kings of the NBA four times in a row. It might seem totally unrealistic to think anyone is ever going to run up a streak of 10 straight championships.

But, with the constantly shifting player landscape around the league, superstar players seem to have an urge to play for the hardware. That trend, and a lot of very young, talented and dedicated players already on their roster, gives the Warriors at least a chance to press on towards legendary status.

9.  Which player will get T’d-up the most times during this season?

You have to figure, if your name is on the list of players who have been most frequently hit with a technical foul, it’s not the most auspicious addition to your stat line. Boogie Cousins and Dwight Howard are the two most noteworthy stars making the current list. The seemingly casual play of Karl Malone actually tops this notorious list of bad behavior.

However, Malone played more games than anyone, other than Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Dirk Nowitzki earned his way on that list, again, by playing in a whole bunch of games. Possibly the only saving grace for Howard and DeMarcus Cousins, is the amount of time they have spent on the sidelines during their careers, donning their Sunday best.

Matched only by the on-court fervor of his current teammate Draymond Green, Cousins is all but a shoe-in to earn his way from honorable mention on the top 20 of all time. Howard seems to have mellowed in his old age, so if Cousins gets enough court minutes, look for Boogie to take home the Title for the most T’s.

10. What will be the final total point tally in the NBA All Star Game?

And our final question will deal with a somewhat more lighthearted aspect of professional basketball. The annual track meet, otherwise called the NBA All Star Showcase. For over thirty years, the NBA All Star game kept pushing closer and closer to a collective 300 point final total.

Players raced for four quarters to top that mark twice in the 1980s, but both those games went into overtime. Sure, the all star game has notoriously been a run and fun type environment where defense is at a premium.

The West put up over 150 points twice in the early 1960s. However, the last couple of seasons has lent a whole new perspective to weak or non-existent defense. Beyond pushing the final two-team total towards 300 points, each team is creeping closer to scoring the unfathomable number of 200.

Last year’s team-captain concept seemed to bring a little more respectability back to what it means to guard the other guy, at least a little. But, the winning total each of the two years previous skated ever so close to 200 points.

After breaking the 300 collective total a couple times in three decades, the best professional basketball players in the world were on a four game streak of passing that mark. So, the 2019 All Star Classic will be the same draft format as last year. In fact, the NBA seems to think their mid-season recess is of special interest to fans.

So much so, that this year the draft process for the All Star game will be televised. However, will any of the chosen few decide to bring a little defense to North Carolina in the NBA’s next battle of the stars?

These are 10 curious questions to start the new NBA season. Some of the answers are beginning to unfold, barely a dozen games into the early schedule. Of course, everyone would like to know the answer to certain questions. But, that would take all the excitement out of the season right? Sit back and watch, and more will be revealed.