Dwyane Wade

Shooting guard Dwyane Wade's return to Miami was one of many different storylines that highlighted the 2017-18 NBA season. 

The Associated Press

At the beginning of every NBA season, fans believe that they have it all figured out.

People thought the Cleveland Cavaliers would have an ‘easy’ path to the NBA Finals this year. They assumed the Golden State Warriors were on their way to a second straight championship and third in four years.

I’m guilty myself of  jumping to conclusions regarding a league that I follow on a daily basis. It’s so easy to fall into the hype of certain teams and completely disregard others.

But if this NBA season has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen.

Let’s recap some of the big events that happened across the association this year.

Gordon Hayward suffered a season-ending leg injury five minutes into his Celtics debut. Kyrie Irving’s season ended early with Boston as well due to a nagging knee injury, all but striking a final blow to the team’s championship aspirations.

LeBron James started out the season with a completely different roster beside him then what he’s taken into Cleveland’s first-round playoff matchup with the Indiana Pacers.

And for the first time in a long time, many are questioning if the ‘King’ will make it out of the first-round series on top.

Dwyane Wade is somehow back on the Miami Heat after weird stints with the Chicago Bulls and Cavaliers, helping it get off to a good start in a competitive first-round series.

The team Miami faces — the Philadelphia 76ers — is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012 after winning 52 games this season. Prior to the start of the year, the 76ers had lost 190 of its previous 246 games.

Out west, the storylines are even juicier.

After many wondered how two ball-dominant guards in James Harden and Chris Paul could play together in Houston, the tandem has controlled the western conference with a league-high 65 wins.

The Warriors are still good. Surprise, surprise. But with injuries that have plagued the team all year long, many — including myself — wonder if their ‘easy’ journey to the Finals has been halted.

Portland surprised a ton of NBA fans with a fantastic regular season that has gotten starting point guard Damian Lillard some MVP looks.

Anthony Davis single-handedly thrusted the New Orleans Pelicans into the playoffs with his ridiculous play after All-Star teammate Demarcus Cousins went down with a torn Achilles in January.

Utah rookie guard Donovan Mitchell has become a must-see player in the blink of an eye. He leads the team in scoring and helped the Jazz become one of the hottest teams in the league down the stretch.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were a disappointment for most fans this year, playing sporadic and uncontrolled basketball with the quickly-assembled trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. How deep they get into the postseason may determine if the team sticks together past this year.

And probably the oddest storyline of all is Kawhi Leonard’s silent treatment directed toward his own franchise, the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard hasn’t played since Jan. 13, deciding to sit out due to a quadriceps injury that many have questioned whether it’s fully healed. For a superstar like Leonard to not speak to a well-respected organization like San Antonio, especially in the playoffs, it’s pretty eye-opening.

My main point here is this: The NBA does a wonderful job of setting up interesting stories every single year.

It’s people’s jobs to look ahead and determine which player is going where in 2023, and predict which teams will collapse in the playoffs and which will begin a dynasty in the coming years.

But what this year has taught us is that we’re always going to be wrong. At least somewhat. Basketball is too unpredictable with injuries, shooting slumps and blossoming stars to determine what going to happen.

So let’s just relax, sit back and enjoy the show.

Follow Skyler Lebron on Twitter @SkylerLebron and contact him at [email protected]

Skyler Lebron is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida men's basketball team. Throughout five semesters with the Alligator, he has covered Cross Country, Volleyball, Softball and now covers Men's Basketball. Skyler is also