As NBA season slowly approaches, there are many many things to look forward to in 2016-2017. The stories coming into this season are remarkable. Can Golden State be stopped? Can Derrick Rose reignite his career in New York? Can Dwight Howard do the same in Atlanta? Is any team in the East close to challenging the Cleveland Cavaliers? This season should make for a much more interesting one. The media causes the idea or belief that players and teams dislike each other. Sometimes it causes actual tension between players or sometimes the hype is just played up.
Feuds between players are caused by a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's about players always being compared to you, a player always being said to be better than you. Sometimes a player departs from the team they played for their entire career because of contract issues. The Rookie of the Year Award sometimes is incredibly close between two players and those players are constantly compared to one another. Rarely, a player leaves a championship contending team to join up with the team that defeated them in the playoffs.
Here are the top 15 feuds to look forward to this upcoming NBA season.
15 Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz
These two teams both improved during the offseason. Both teams are also still very young. Karl Anthony-Towns and Rudy Gobert are both young Centers in the league. Gobert is a defensive stud and Karl Anthony-Towns may be unstoppable in a few years. Gordon Hayward has been underrated in the league for a long time, and many people leave out his name when they talk about Small Forwards. Andrew Wiggins is a young forward in the league and a former Rookie of the Year looking to improve his game. Personally I believe that Andrew Wiggins is overrated and I would take Hayward over Wiggins. Both these teams are going to be competing for a playoff spot in the Western Conference and while this feud may not prove as high-level as other, look for intensity to come from both teams when they meet on the court.
14 DeMarcus Cousins and Karl Anthony-Towns
Karl Anthony-Towns is only going to be entering his second season in the NBA. However, I believe he is in contention for being the best Center in the NBA. The only man in the league that can contend with that is DeMarcus Cousins. DeMarcus Cousins has yet to make the playoffs in his six year career. Mainly because the Kings have not once tried to build a team around him. As a fan of his, it sucks that this will likely prove another year that Cousins sits out come playoff time as the Kings will most likely fall short of a spot. Karl Anthony-Towns and DeMarcus Cousins this season will be fighting to prove who is the best big man in the league. Cousins currently has the edge on Anthony-Towns for the time being, but Karl Anthony-Towns may be able to take over soon enough.
13 Tom Thibodeau and Chicago Bulls
Tom Thibodeau is the best defensive coach in the NBA right now. He led the Bulls to the playoffs every year he was there. Thibodeau was wrongfully fired from the Bulls after the 2014-15 season following the Bulls loss in the playoffs to the Cavaliers. Another issue here is is that they were up 2-1 at one point in the series. After sitting out the following season, Thibodeau joined the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason. Meanwhile the Bulls missed the playoffs in their first season without Thibodeau. Thibodeau should have a tremendous and positive impact on the Wolves and whenever he returns to Chicago, it will be a closely watched game. Thibodeau should receive a standing ovation as his accomplishments in Chicago should be appreciated greatly by the fans. Of course time will tell and for now we can only speculate how the Chicago crowd will greet Thibodeau.
12 Dwight Howard and James Harden
They will probably tell you a different story, but watching them on the court, it may be hard to believe that they got along. Dwight Howard's numbers in Houston were not even close to what he did in Orlando. James Harden is a ball-dominant player. Although he averages many assists, his teammates are hardly involved in the offense. Howard and Harden were supposed to be a dominant combo in the NBA, but after three seasons, they only made it out of the first round once. Last season was a terrible one for the Rockets. They were only the eighth seed and barely put up any fight against the Warriors. Howard found a new home in Atlanta or in his case an old home. Hopefully Dwight can return to the player he once was. When these two step onto the court on opposing sides, you can expect to see some fierce competition between the former teammates.
11 DeMarcus Cousins and Sacramento Kings
As previously mentioned, DeMarcus Cousins has not once reached the playoffs in his NBA career. His issues with the Kings management has also been well documented. He was upset with their choice on draft night. They have also had six coaches since Cousins has been a member of the team. His name is constantly in trade talks, talks which I don't understand because he's the best player at his position. He was believed to be at odds with his coach last season, George Karl. They did not re-sign the best player to play with him on the Kings so far in Rajon Rondo. It will be interesting this season to see if they trade him. Some candidates for a Cousins trade include the Clippers, the Cavaliers, and the Los Angeles Lakers. For all we know, Cousin could turn his game around entirely and finally reach the playoffs but we're not placing many bets on that. So, let's just see what happens next in Sacramento.
10 New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls
The Bulls traded their star player for many years to the Knicks for players not even close to his caliber of play. The Knicks also obtained one of their most loved and hard-nosed players Joakim Noah because of free agency. Both teams changed dramatically during the offseason. As a Knicks fan, I obviously think the Knicks have a much better team. However, Chicago has an interesting team with Jimmy Butler, Dwayne Wade, and Rajon Rondo. Both teams by many are considered to be at the same level, but the Knicks are a ton better than the Bulls. Will Rose return to what he once was? This is is the question that many ask even though Rose had a very good second half of last season. I'd be shocked if Rose and Noah are booed when they return to Chicago. One way or the other, the Knicks and Bulls will provide some strong entertainment.
9 Dwayne Wade and Miami Heat
Dwayne Wade is the greatest player to ever play for the Heat. He left them this offseason to go play for a team that he faced many times in the playoffs, the Chicago Bulls. It is believed that Wade did not re-sign because he wanted to finally get a chance to receive a big contract. Wade sacrificed for many of his teammates such as Chris Bosh and LeBron James when they came to Miami. Wade believed it was finally his time to receive that big contract but when free agency came Pat Riley low-balled him in favour of Center Hassan Whiteside. Wade is now with Chicago and the Heat are left without a superstar. Wade without doubt will receive cheers when he comes back to play Miami, as he helped bring the city their only three championships. It is highly unlikely that the crowd will boo Wade but the feud between Wade and his former team will be intersting.
8 Kristaps Porzingis and Karl Anthony-Towns
Kristaps Porzingis shocked many fans last season and was arguably winning the Rookie of the Year race up until Febuary. Karl Anthony-Towns dominated the rookies for much of the season. Porzingis may be looking to prove this season that he is better than Karl Anthony-Towns, and that he should have been picked first in the 2015 NBA Draft. And although Karl Anthony-Towns may be better at the moment, Porzingis is not that far off from being an absolute monster in the NBA league. The battles that these two will have in the future will be very entertaining to watch. Kristaps Porzingis could be an NBA All-Star this year while Karl Anthony-Towns will be one for sure. Porzingis on the other hand has been praised a ton by many NBA players current and former so look for Porzingis to prove himself this upcoming season, especially when playing Anthony-Towns.
7 Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry
During the season it was without question that the two-time MVP Stephen Curry was better than Kyrie Irving. After the season this is being put in to question. Irving absolutely destroyed Curry in the Finals which included hitting the championship winning shot right in his face. Curry did not play well in the Finals whatsoever and it's mostly his fault as to why they lost. Now they are more than likely to meet once more in the NBA Finals with Cleveland having little competition in the East and the Warriors more than likely dominating the West. Kyrie Irving put himself back in to the conversation for being a top-three point guard. After his injury, it was put into question. But this last NBA Finals ended the discussion, and Irving showed that he is possibly better. On the other hand, Curry will be looking to redeem himself when playing Irving and the Cavaliers which should make for some exciting basketball.
6 Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors
The only team that put up a fight against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Playoffs were the Toronto Raptors. It took the Cavaliers six games to finish off the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. While the Cavs team stayed pretty much the same, the Raptors got better by adding Jared Sullinger. The Cavaliers on the other hand, have not made any additions or subtractions that would make them better. Cleveland may still be a better team but the Raptors should not be slept on and may be the only team in the East that can stop the Cavaliers from having a cake-walk to the Finals again. Cleveland still have to re-sign JR Smith who was a pivotal part to their success. When the Cavaliers meets the Raptors expect some highly competitive basketball.
5 LeBron James and Kevin Durant
LeBron James and Kevin Durant are two of the greatest Small Forwards to ever play basketball. They have met in the NBA Finals once in 2012 with LeBron and the Miami Heat defeating Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder four games to one. They could have met again in the NBA Finals this season, but the Oklahoma City Thunder blew three games to one series lead against Golden State in the Western Conference Finals. With both teams being expected to dominate their conference, Durant and James are more than likely going to meet up again in the Finals except this time with Durant being a member of the Golden State Warriors. The outcome however may be different this time with Durant being a member of a dominant-looking Golden State team. That's just not fair.
4 San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors
The San Antonio Spurs were the team everyone expected to stop the Warriors in the playoffs. They were predicted to meet up in the Western Conference Finals. However this was not the case as the Spurs broke down in the Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs have the only chance in the West to stop the Golden State Warriors this season. Nobody in the West are even close to competing for a championship besides these two teams. The Spurs were able to give the Warriors one of their nine losses in the regular season. These teams contrast in styles vastly. Golden State likes to run and shoot teams out of the building. The San Antonio Spurs on the other hand grind it out on offense and play tremendous defense. These two teams should make for some intriguing match-ups in the regular season and the postseason.
3 Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook
The bad blood between these two is definitely real. Russell Westbrook has been disrespected by almost all NBA fans. Somehow, people say that Curry is better than Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is a better scorer, passer, rebounder, and defender than Stephen Curry. Yet people continue to put Curry ahead of him in the Point Guard race. The only advantage I would give Curry against Westbrook is shooting, but other than that he is not better in any other aspect of the game. Even though the Warriors beat the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, that is to no fault of Westbrook. Curry was defended well much of that series and the Thunder lost because of the weak play from Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson turning in to an absolute monster. Look for Westbrook to play hard against Curry to prove he is the better Point Guard.
2 Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers
The NBA Finals match-up for the 2015-16 season left us on the edge of our seat for much of it. LeBron James finally achieved his goal of bringing a championship to Cleveland and he did it on what was an uphill task. Down three games to one, Cleveland did what no team has ever done before and came back from that deficit. Tensions and emotions were obviously at an all-time high with ejections and suspensions. These teams faced each other in back-to-back NBA Finals, so it is more than likely that they know each other like the back of their hands. A third NBA Finals match-up is also likely as there is no team in the East to stop Cleveland and Golden State added Kevin Durant in the offseason, so look out West! This rivalry between two teams with a smaller market are the things that legends are made of. And if a trilogy does happen, the ratings will be incredibly high.
1 Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
Without question, this had to be number one. These two will be going at each other every game the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder play each other. Kevin Durant will receive the loudest boos in sports history once they finally meet up in OKC. Russell Westbrook became the Thunder's hero once he re-signed with the Thunder before he would have became a free agent next summer. I believe that Russell Westbrook is far more better and obviously far more loyal than Kevin Durant. Durant and the Thunder were one win away from making it to the NBA Finals. But Durant left it all behind to take the easier route to getting an NBA Championship. Look for passionate play when these two run into each other this season. While every other feud is worth watching, keep a close eye on this one as it could become the most intense.