2019-2020 NBA Season Preview

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2019-2020 NBA Season Preview


From left, Los Angeles Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank, head coach Doc Rivers, new players Paul George and Kawhi Leonard and owner Steve Balmer, at Green Meadows Recreation Center during a news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

From left, Los Angeles Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank, head coach Doc Rivers, new players Paul George and Kawhi Leonard and owner Steve Balmer, at Green Meadows Recreation Center during a news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Wally Skalij

From left, Los Angeles Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank, head coach Doc Rivers, new players Paul George and Kawhi Leonard and owner Steve Balmer, at Green Meadows Recreation Center during a news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Wally Skalij

Wally Skalij

From left, Los Angeles Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank, head coach Doc Rivers, new players Paul George and Kawhi Leonard and owner Steve Balmer, at Green Meadows Recreation Center during a news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

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On October 22, 2019, the NBA season will be back in business. With all of the offseason moves that went on, this season has the potential to be one of the most competitive seasons in NBA history. 

Free agents such as Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and more have switched teams to create new competitors. There were also blockbuster trades that shaped some teams. Let’s look at the offseason moves of teams I believe will make the playoffs next season.

 

Western Conference

 

  • Los Angeles Clippers

 

The Los Angeles Clippers had the best offseason of any NBA team. After entering the playoffs as an 8th seed the playoffs last year, the Clippers were able to sign Kawhi Leanord for three years and $103 million and acquired Paul George via trade. The trade sent Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and multiple 1st round draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They also resigned Patrick Beverley to a 3 year deal, creating a dangerous defensive trio in Los Angeles. Is this the season that the Clippers make it to the Western Conference Finals?

 

 

  •  Los Angeles Lakers

 

The Lakers made a game-changing trade of their own during the offseason. They received Anthony Davis in a trade with the Pelicans. The Lakers shipped Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and some 1st round picks to New Orleans. 

Besides Anthony Davis, they also picked up Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Quinn Cook, DeMarcus Cousins (who would tear his ACL after signing), and Dwight Howard, as a replacement for Cousins. Since Antony Davis’ contract expires after this season, the Lakers are going to have to be one of the best teams in the NBA if they want to persuade him to stay.

 

 

  • Portland Trail Blazers

 

After being swept in the Western Conference Finals last season, the Portland Trail Blazers are looking to improve off of their success. They extended Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and they also traded for Kent Bazemore and Hassan Whiteside. 

They also signed Pau Gasol to the team to add more depth at the big man position since Jusef Nurkic is still recovering from his ACL injury. The Blazers have the core necessary to make another run to the Western Conference Finals, but they will have to prove that they can compete with the best of the west.

 

 

  • Denver Nuggets

 

The Denver Nuggets were the most surprising team in the NBA last season. Led by All-Star Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, a deep bench, the Nuggets won 54 games, but they lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Portland Trail Blazers in 7 games.

Besides trading for Jeremi Grant and drafting Bol Bol, the Nuggets’ offseason wasn’t that interesting. Michael Porter jr. will start his rookie year this year, and if he can stay healthy, he will help the Nuggets be a stronger team. If Denver can build off of their success from last season, I can see them possibly reaching the Western Conference Finals., or even The Finals.

 

 

  • Golden State Warriors

 

Even though the Golden State Warriors lost Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins in free agency, they were able to make the moves necessary to make sure that they are still solid contenders in the Western Conference. 

The Warriors made sure to extend Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. They also signed D’Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley-Stein. Since Klay Thompon will be out for a majority of the season to heal from his torn ACL, Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell will have to prove that they are still formidable opponents if they want a chance at the NBA championship.

 

 

  • Houston Rockets

 

The Houston Rockets made the last big move of the offseason. After Paul George was traded, Russell Westbrook was traded to the Rockets for Chris Paul and multiple draft picks. The trade has reunited James Harden and Russell westbrook for the first time since the 2011-12 NBA season, the season that the Thunder lost in the NBA finals to the Miami Heat.

 Both Harden and Westbrook had usage ratings of over 30% last season, so Mike D’Antoni will need to figure out how they will be able to share the basketball without one player being unsatisfied with their usage rate. If the Rockets can figure out how to move the basketball, they have the potential to be one of the best teams in the NBA.

 

 

  • Utah Jazz

 

The Utah Jazz also made a move that tossed them into the conversation. Over the offseason, they decided to acquire Mike Conley from the Grizzlies through a trade, sending Jae Crowder, Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver, and the 23rd pick of the NBA Draft to the Memphis Grizzlies. 

Mike Conley should help on both sides of the basketball. Free agent acquisition Bojan Bogdanovic should also be an offensive asset. With Conley, Donovan Mitchell, and Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, the Jazz are ready to compete in the West, but it will be a challenge to outduel the other elite teams in their conference.

 

 

  • San Antonio Spurs

 

Last year was the first year of the first post-Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker era of the San Antonio Spurs. Led by Demar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs struggled throughout the season, but they were able to enter the NBA Playoffs as a 7th seed. They lost to the Nuggets in 7 games. 

Over the offseason, they signed DeMarre Carroll and almost signed Marcus Morris until he changed his mind and signed with the Knicks. Although the Spurs team is weak in star power, they will have Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV back, who both miss significant time with injuries. Derrick White, who was very impressive in the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs last year, will also look to improve off of last year’s success. Although they aren’t one of the elite teams anymore, Gregg Popovich and his team will be a competitive playoff team.

 

Eastern Conference

 

 

  • Milwaukee Bucks

 

Now that Kawhi Leonard has gone to Los Angeles, the Milwaukee Bucks are one of the frontrunners to win the Eastern Conference. Last season, Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer, MVP Giannis Antetokoumpo, and all star Khris Middleton led the Bucks to the best record in the league, but they lost to Toronto in the Conference Finals.

 They were able to sign Kyle Korver, Robin Lopez, and Wesley Matthews to their roster. Although they lost Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic, they still have a talented roster. As long as Antetokoumpo and Middleton maintain their All-Star play, this year may be the year they play in the finals for the first time in over 35 years.

 

 

  • Philadelphia 76ers

 

The other frontrunner in the East is the 76ers. Last season, they lost to the Tornto Raptors in a 7 game series, that ended in one of the greatest game-winning shots in NBA History.

 Over the offseason, they resigned Tobias Harris and acquired up Josh Richardson in a sign and trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat. They also signed Al Horford to play alongside Joel Embiid creating the best frontcourt in the east. 

If Philadelphia wants to win a championship,Ben Simmons has to develop a jump shot in order to spread the floor a lot more. If he can acquire a jump shot, the sixers will be a dangerous team.

 

 

  • Indiana Pacers

 

The Indiana Pacers were having a great season last season until Victor Oladipo had a season ending injury. Afterwards, the Pacers would struggle and lose in the first round of the playoffs. 

During the offseason, they signed Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. McConnell, and Jeremy Lamb to the team. They also drafted Goga Bitadze, who played in Serbia and the Euroleague. With a healthy Oladipo returning and a great shot blocker in Miles Turner, the Pacers have a chance to challenge Philly and Milwaukee.

 

 

  • Miami Heat

 

Meanwhile in Miami, the Heat are building a solid playoff contender. They were able to acquire Jimmy Butler from Philadelphia in a sign and trade, and they traded Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers, giving Bam Adebayo the permanent starting role. 

Miami also drafted Tyler Herro, who was very impressive in the Summer League, with the 14th pick of the NBA draft. The Heat failed to make the playoffs season, so Jimmy Butler will make them a playoff team, but Miami has to prove that they can compete with the elites of the East.

 

 

  • Boston Celtics

 

Last season, the Boston Celtics were expected to be one of the best teams in the NBA, but they struggled throughout the season and lost in the second round of the playoffs. They decided to replace Kyrie Irving with Kemba Walker and sign Enes Kanter. The Celtics were also able to draft Romeo Langford (via Kings trade) and Carsen Edwards. If Kemba and Jayson Tatum can play well together, then the Celtics have a chance to be a strong team in the Eastern Conference.

 

 

  • Toronto Raptors

 

The reigning champion Toronto Raptors will begin their title defense this year, but Kawhi Leonard will not be apart of the team this year. After winning their first championship, this year will be the test to see where the Raptors stand among the Eastrn Conference. 

Toronto still has Kyle Lowry and Most Improved Player Pascal Siakam to lead them, but they won’t be championship contenders without a superstar to lead that team. Even if Pascal Siakam evolves into an All-Star, they won’t be able to compete with teams such as the Bucks and Sixers.

 

 

  • Brooklyn Nets

 

If the Clippers had the best offseason, then the Brooklyn Nets would be right behind them. After the Nets made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2015, they were able to sign both Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Deandre Jordan. If Kevin Durant didn’t have to miss all of this season with a ruptured Achilles, then the Nets would also be frontrunners in the Eastern Conference. 

The Nets still have some key pieces such as Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and Spencer Dinwiddie that led them to the playoffs last year, so They will still be a playoff team. Even if the Nets aren’t great this upcoming season, they have the chance to be a future dynasty when Kevin Durant returns from injury.

 

 

  • Detroit Pistons

 

The Detroit Pistons had an okay season last season. They were able to sneak into the playoffs as an 8th seed, but it didn’t matter because they got swept by the Bucks. The Pistons are in a situation where they aren’t good enough to compete, but they’re not bad enough to get a high draft pick.

 In an attempt to improve their roster, they drafted Sekou Doumbouya and signed Derrick Rose in the offseason to pair with their All-Star frontcourt of Ande Drummond and Blake Griffin. While the Pistons can improve from last season, I doubt the improvement will be enough to make themselves contenders in the East.