The 2014-15 NBA season featured displays of brilliant strategy, offensive schemes that whipped the ball across court with speed and precision, defensive schemes that stifled even the craftiest of players, as well as astonishing shows of personal effort and athleticism.
What made the season truly special however, were compelling narratives of redemption and rebirth, personified by LeBron James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors’ ascent to one of the best teams in NBA history. Luckily for fans of the game, this season promises to bring just as many good teams and stories to the table.
The Warriors won the NBA Championship last year and are hoping to repeat on the back of MVP Stephen Curry’s silky-smooth shooting and an excellent defense lead by Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Tommy Pitcher ’17, a Warriors fan, knows it would be a tough task for the Warriors to repeat because of the high level of play in the Western Conference, especially compared to the East.
“I think they have the best odds to make it out of the Western Conference, but the Cavaliers still have the best chance to win, just because they have such an easy job getting to the finals,” Pitcher said.
Pitcher hails from Ames, Iowa, 1,838 miles from the Warriors’ home stadium, the Oracle Arena. Given this distance and the Warriors’ rapid rise to success, he could easily be misidentified as a bandwagon fan, but Pitcher has a very local connection to this particular Warriors team. Harrison Barnes, the Warriors’ small forward was a senior at Ames High School when Pitcher was a freshman. Doug McDermott, a member of the Chicago Bulls, also went to Ames.
“We had the No. 1 and … the No. 26 high school recruits in the nation, and they would just … wreck kids. Harrison would do 360 dunks in games and ridiculous things like that,” Pitcher said. “Their junior and senior years, we didn’t lose a game.”
Anthony LaMacchia ’16, a fan of the Los Angeles Clippers, is also confident about his team’s chances, particularly because of new additions such as Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson, but he also acknowledges he’s been let down in the past. Last season, the Clippers advanced to the conference semifinals before falling to the Houston Rockets, giving up a 3-1 series lead in the process.
“I loved Paul Pierce when I was a kid, obviously he’s kind of old right now … [but] he’s always clutch,” LaMacchia said. “Every year I think, ‘This is the year.’”
Both Pitcher and LaMacchia agreed that the Milwaukee Bucks, who have a good core of young talent and made the playoffs last year only to be swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers, have a number of exciting players to watch this year, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, nicknamed “the Greek Freak” and recent signee Greg Monroe.
“[Antetokounmpo’s] a super lanky, super athletic player from Greece … he’ll be fun to watch,” Pitcher said.
“[Monroe] doesn’t get a lot of shine, but he’ll probably be the best player on that team this year, and they should be a top five or six team in the East,” LaMacchia said.
For the Bucks to move forward another team will have to move back, as is the story in the NBA every year. Talented teams rise and fall, waiting for the perfect chance to break through and hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at season’s end.