NBA season preview: Five things to watch out for in the 2017/18 campaign

It’s been little over four months since the last competitive game in which the Warriors clinched their second NBA title in three years by beating the Cavaliers in five games.

But NBA teams have certainly been busy in one of the craziest off-seasons in living memory.

Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and others made huge moves in the hope of challenging the Cavaliers and Warriors’ dominance.

Race to MVP

The MVP title didn’t even include LeBron James or the Steph Curry in contention for last year’s battle with triple-doubles taking centre stage.

Russell Westbrook did the unthinkable by breaking Oscar Robertson’s regular season record of 41 triple-doubles.

And the race for the MVP award this season is set to be even more interesting with several teams upgrading to include more All-Stars.

Westbrook now has Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, Al Horford has Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, James Harden has Chris Paul while the Golden State Warriors’ “big four” could all viably fight for the MVP title.

East v West

As the offseason progressed it became clear the Western Conference holds the advantage over the East in terms of quality.

In fact there are 24 players who have made multiple All-NBA teams since the 2010/11 season, and just four of them suit up in the Eastern Conference.

It is a problem the East have had ever since Michael Jordan left the Chicago Bulls in 1998.

In the 19 season since then, Western Conference teams have won the championship 13 times.

LeBron James free agency

While the 2017 offseason was crazy, next summer could be the biggest… well since James last left Cleveland in 2010.

And many pundits and former players believe the four-time MVP will opt out of his deal with the Cavaliers once again when he his free agency.

However, James dropped a hint on the NBA Media Day to officially open the new season by suggesting he is happy to stay in Cleveland.

“It hasn’t changed,” he said.

“That’s why I sit up here today, still in this uniform, still ready to lead this franchise to a championship and put us in a position where we can still be successful.”

Warriors dominance

While everyone has made huge strides to try and compete with the Warriors, the reigning champions are the overwhelming favourites to retain their title.

They signed Finals MVP Kevin Durant to a two-year £40million with a player option for the second year, taking £7million less than the maximum to allow Bob Myers to bring back the veteran leadership.

Andre Igoudale, Shaun Livingston, David West and Zaza Pachulia all re-signed with the Warriors to help retain the core of the Warriors while also adding Nick Young and Ormi Casspi to the rotation.

Rookie of the Year battle

This year’s NBA Draft was loaded with talent and most of the top picks promise to feature heavily for their respective teams this season.

Lonzo Ball is the early favourite to to make an immediate impact for the LA Lakers while Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz and Dennis Smith Jr have also been touted as having big years for the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks respectively.

The argument for Jayson Tatum will depend on how many regular minutes he can earn for the Boston Celtics while Josh Jackson is expected to be a work-in-progress on both ends for the Phoenix Suns.