Thursday, 23 May 2024

Around the NBA: 2019-20 Preview — The Basketball Movement

Already less than a month away, it is time to start the annual tradition of eagerly anticipating the NBA season. As per the new norm, the NBA offseason has been eventful. The 2019-20 regular season is quickly approaching, with tipoff taking place on October 22nd. Now that we have our calendars marked, let’s speculate on how the season ahead will unfold for each of the 30 NBA teams and their exciting lineups.

The Basketball Movement has already provided a detailed breakdown of the major offseason moves, so we won’t delve into every detail of player transfers. However, player movement remains the most intriguing aspect of the upcoming 2019-20 season and will be woven throughout this preview. Let’s start with the Western Conference and focus on the reigning NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard.

Western Conference

Kawhi may have been ninth in MVP voting for the regular season, but he demonstrated his dominance during the Playoffs. Unfortunately for Toronto, they lost him in the offseason. However, Leonard didn’t join a team stacked with other star players, like we’ve seen with many NBA superstars recently. Instead, he joined the Los Angeles Clippers, a solid but unspectacular team. His addition instantly turned the Clippers into contenders. But what pushed them over the edge was the trade that brought in Paul George from the OKC Thunder, sending Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and picks the other way.

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With an elite defense complementing a solid offensive attack, the Clippers are instant favorites for a top-two finish in the West. Their crosstown rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, also made significant moves by retaining Kyle Kuzma and LeBron James while shipping the rest of their young core to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis. If James remains healthy and Davis lives up to expectations, this pair has the potential to become an all-time-great duo.

Speaking of the Pelicans, they acquired a promising young core in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart, plus this year’s number one draft pick, Zion Williamson. The expectations for Williamson are massive, and if he can stay healthy and meet those expectations, he could have a phenomenal rookie season.

After trading away Paul George, the Oklahoma City Thunder decided to enter a rebuilding phase. Russell Westbrook, who had spent his entire career with the Thunder, was traded to the Houston Rockets, reuniting him with his former teammate and MVP hopeful, James Harden. The deal also included Chris Paul, who is currently still with the Thunder, although it remains to be seen if he and Gallinari will still be in Oklahoma City by the start of 2020.

Despite losing Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors remain formidable. They acquired D’Angelo Russell, an Eastern Conference All-Star, in return for Durant. Alongside Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Steph Curry, the Warriors still boast a talented roster, and Curry will likely be looking to make a strong MVP case this season.

The Utah Jazz, with their subtle offseason additions of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdonović, are also primed to make a significant impact in their pursuit of a title. These additions will complement their core players, including two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Joe Ingles.

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Other teams in the West, such as the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, and San Antonio Spurs, may not have made as many headline-grabbing moves during the offseason, but they are expected to have strong seasons. The Western Conference is incredibly deep and should see intense competition not just at the top, but also throughout the playoffs.

Eastern Conference

Just as Kawhi Leonard’s move shifted the landscape in the West, it did the same in the Eastern Conference. The reigning NBA Champion Toronto Raptors will have a different look without their Finals MVP and two-way superstar. However, with the rest of their core intact and solid additions in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson, they are still expected to be a playoff team. The key to their success will be the continued development of Pascal Siakam, who now takes on a more significant role.

Another player who had a significant impact last season and continues to be a force in the Eastern Conference is Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning league MVP. The Milwaukee Bucks retained key players like Kris Middleton and Brook Lopez, although they did lose Malcolm Brogdon. With offseason acquisitions Robin Lopez and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks will have the unique distinction of having two sets of brothers on their roster.

Kevin Durant’s move to the Brooklyn Nets marked his official arrival in the Eastern Conference. However, he is currently injured and is unlikely to play this entire season. Joining him in Brooklyn is Kyrie Irving, who left the Boston Celtics. The Celtics wasted no time in acquiring their own star point guard, Kemba Walker, to fill the void left by Irving. Although they lost Al Horford to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics still have a solid roster and will rely on a scoring point guard in Walker to lead their team.

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The Philadelphia 76ers, on the other hand, gained Al Horford, who will provide a strong presence on both ends of the court and support Joel Embiid. Jimmy Butler, their closer from last season, left for the Miami Heat, where he will now be the main star. While the Heat may not be as talented as Butler’s previous teams, he will undoubtedly be looking to make his mark and prove himself.

The Indiana Pacers, with the return of Victor Oladipo from injury, are expected to take a notable step forward and contend for a playoff spot. Other teams that have improved but still need to prove themselves are the Atlanta Hawks, with young talents like Trae Young and John Collins, and the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, who have made significant roster improvements.

The Eastern Conference is filled with intriguing storylines, from the battle between the Bucks and the Raptors to see who will claim the top spot, to the development of young players and the return of injured stars. It promises to be an exciting season that fans won’t want to miss.

We are eagerly anticipating the start of the NBA season, as we are true basketball enthusiasts. We wish all the players the best of luck, and we’ll be watching closely as they strive to make an impact on their teams and the league as a whole.

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