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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Takeaways prior to start of NBA season

Rebecca Noble

Then-Arizona forward Brandon Ashley (21) makes a shot while playing against ASU in McKale Center on Saturday, Feb. 7.

The 2015-2016 NBA season begins Tuesday, Oct. 27 after an eventful offseason that had us on the edge of our seats with free agent signings, several trades and a highly talented draft — not to mention the DeAndre Jordan situation.

With that being said, here are a few things to take note of prior to the start of the season.

The West is better than ever

Yes, you read that correctly. The NBA Western Conference is once again an extremely competitive conference to play in, which comes as no surprise, but I don’t think anyone anticipated the West looking this robust.

There are five teams that could make a run for the NBA Championship: the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets — not even mentioning the seemingly always underrated Memphis Grizzlies, who have proven to be a tough team come playoff time.

The Spurs have bolstered their already potent roster by adding one of the best power forwards in the game, LaMarcus Aldridge, and also adding consistent veteran forward David West. The Thunder will be more than happy to have Kevin Durant back after he missed most of last season with a right foot injury. The Thunder is extremely athletic as always, with a deeper bench than it’s ever had.

The Los Angeles Clippers made moves to help strengthen their bench, which was one of their weak spots last season. They traded for scorer Lance Stephenson and signed forward Josh Smith, who killed them in their epic collapse in game six in the second round of the playoffs last season against the Rockets. They were also able to bring back center DeAndre Jordan, who broke off a verbal agreement with the Dallas Mavericks to stay with the team that drafted him.

Elsewhere, the Rockets added more fire power to their high-powered offense by adding point guard Ty Lawson and guard Marcus Thornton and drafting forward Sam Dekker — who Arizona basketball fans know all too well — from Wisconsin,. The Golden State Warriors are bringing back virtually the same roster that won them the NBA title last season. It will be a dogfight in the Western Conference for a playoff spot, to say the least.

New coaches in ideal situations

A trend we are starting to see in the NBA is new coaches stepping into great situations to be successful in a hurry. A season ago the Golden State Warriors brought in former UA guard and NBA champion Steve Kerr to coach a team that already had a dangerous offense but lacked an identity on defense. Sure enough, Kerr was able to lead his team to a national title in his first season as head coach, becoming the first rookie coach to win it all since Pat Riley in 1982 with the Los Angeles Lakers.

During the offseason we’ve seen a similar pattern, as teams that already have winning cultures established brought in successful collegiate coaches to navigate their squad with hopes they could emulate what Kerr did a season ago. The Chicago Bulls brought in former Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg and the Oklahoma City Thunder hired former Florida coach Billy Donovan. Hoiberg compiled an overall record of 115-56 and led the team to one Sweet Sixteen during his five seasons at Iowa State. Billy Donovan led the Florida Gators to two national championships in 2006 and 2007.

Young stars emerging

It’s always exciting as a basketball fan to see young players blossom from raw athletes into some of the best players in the game.

Last season we saw Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans solidify himself as one of the best players in the league. This year we could see Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins, Milwaukee Bucks’ Jabari Parker, our old friend Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson boost themselves into some of the game’s elite young talent.

Two Wildcats cut

The Dallas Mavericks waived forward Brandon Ashley on Saturday after he agreed to a partially guaranteed multi-year deal back in July. Ashley will start in the D-league affiliate this season, unable to make the NBA roster. Another former Arizona basketball player, Grant Jerrett, was cut by the Utah Jazz. Jerrett will now undergo free agency.

The upcoming NBA season should be a fun one to watch with everything from stacked teams to heated rivalries to exciting young players.

Follow Ross Olson on Twitter.

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