The NBA season starts today, and I’m sure every outlet in North America will be publishing a piece previewing the best players, top games, and all the other fluff they think hard core basketball fans care about.

That may be true, but here at Shifter we’re gonna give you the real stories of the upcoming 2018-2019 NBA season that you really want to know about. So with that, here are the Shifter Sports Top 10 Intriguing NBA Storylines This Season:

Is this a make or break season for Andrew Wiggins? The Simple answer: Yes. Wiggins numbers dropped off last year from 23.6 ppg. in 2017/2018  to 17.7 ppg. last year, after signing a five-year, $148 million contract extension with the Timberwolves. Those weren’t the numbers the T-wolves were expecting after trading for the former No. 1 overall pick (2014) in exchange for Kevin Love and his healthy double/double average. True, the acquisition for Jimmy Butler (as we’ve seen lately) and the emergence of KAT (Karl Anthony Towns) didn’t do anything to help Wiggins expand his game. If Wiggins doesn’t emerge into a bonafide scoring threat this season, the term ‘bust’ might end up in his Wikipedia profile, along with fans adding his name next to the likes of (cringe) Anthony Bennett.

Andrew Wiggins (Photo Credit: NBA.com)

Will the real JR Smith and Kevin Love stand up? Speaking of Kevin Love, I’m not too sure about this whole notion that Lebron makes all players around him better. He makes some players better, but others seem to lose themselves. Like Love and J.R. Smith. Love went from averaging a health double/double in Minnesota for 6 seasons to being an unreliable spot up shooter in Cleveland. J.R. was a promising, athletic shooting guard in Denver and New York, but somehow became an NBA meme for the better part of his time with the Cavs. With Lebron out the way, I’m hoping they will get back to their old selves, pre-Lebron era.

What will Joel Embiid say on social media? By far Embiid is the most entertaining player off the court online. From his tweets ‘shooting his shot’ for Rihanna, to calling out rival NBA big men like Hassan Whiteside and Deandre Jordan, to just being plain funny. It’s refreshing to see pro athletes be themselves and not a plastic version of what they think the audience wants.

How many games will it take before Boogie Cousins comes to blows with Durant or Draymond? There’s no secret about the scuffles Boogie has had with the Warriors last year. As cozy as the Warriors locker room has been during their Dynasty run, it won’t take much for personalities like Boogie, Durant and Draymond to pop off. The only question is will it be in the locker room or during a game.

From the left: Draymond, Boogie, and Durant (Photo credit: SI.com)

Who will be the first one to dunk on Utah’s Rudy Gobert? Lebron James, Damian Lillard, Andrew Wiggins, Blake Griffin, Vince Carter (the old man version if you can believe it) are just a small percentage of players that have made Gobert a victim over the last couple of seasons. To be fare, Gobert is a tough defender who isn’t afraid of contact and did win Defensive Player of the year last season. That said, my pick to dunk on him next would be the Mavs’ Dennis Smith Jr. who I can’t believe hasn’t already.

Which Laker will get the bench wrath of LJB first? Through all the publicity of Lebron’s greatness as a teammate, his sideline tantrums often get overlooked or forgotten. In Miami it was Mario Chalmers. In Cleveland, it was Kyrie. L.A.? I’d say it’s probable that Lance Stephenson or Lonzo Ball will fill in that blank. Rondo could could be a good bet as well, as he’s known to get into it with teammates.

What scenario keeps Kawhi in Toronto? None. There’s no way a kid from L.A., who played college ball in California and has the opportunity to play anywhere else as a free agent will want to stay in the six. Unless his name is Demar Derozan. Kawhi and Demar have had similar career paths. The only difference being Kawhi has experienced what it feels to be a champion. Let’s be real, Demar was the exception and not the rule, as Stoudamire, Carter and Bosh all eventually wanted to leave for greener pastures. Demar’s motivation to stay in Toronto was it gave him the best opportunity to win a title. Kawhi already has that so even if the Raps with the NBA title this year, I don’t see any motivation for him wanting to spend years of his prime suffering through Toronto winters when he could be enjoying life on Long Beach (CA) or South Beach (FL).

Who will be the best hip hop hooper? Probably Quavo since he did win MVP at last year’s All-Star Celeb game. With Drake a far second. Next question.

Quavo (Photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Are the Celtics the new ‘Warriors’? They can be. It seems like they have all the pieces, minus deadly consistent 3-pt shooter from the outside like the splash brothers. All the other ingredients are there to make a title run this year, and in the future. Kyrie has already pledged to resign after this season, and they have enough young talent for the long term. The real question should be: Can they beat the Warriors in the Finals? My prediction: Yes.

Who is the NBA’s sneaker king? It’s a tie between Lance Stephenson and PJ Tucker. Both are certified Hype Beasts on social media. Neither has a signature shoe to date, but are often caught flashing several pairs of retrofit on their feet pregame and in game. In case you don’t see this as a big deal, the the NBA Players Association gave Tucker the ‘Sneaker Champ Award’ after last season. Stephenson has already publicly declared that he’s coming for throne.

P.J. Tucker (Photo credit: Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

The NBA season should be an entertaining one as usual. Here’s some other predictions you might me interested in:

  • NBA Finals: Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors (First Finals without Lebron in 8 years)
  • MVP: Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers (He’ll win MVP with all the publicity in the L.A. market, unlike last year)
  • Rookie of the year: Kevin Knox, New York Knicks(This would be considered an upset win)
  • Defensive player of the year: Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors (This will happen in the weak Eastern Conference)
  • 6 man of the year: Carmelo Anthony, Houston Rockets (LOL only if he agrees to come off the bench)
  • Most improved player: Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves (We believe)
  • Coach of the year: Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors (He’s a nobody that will take the Raps far, but not far enough)

Sheldon Barrocks

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