Last month the NBA season kicked off with a bang. Throughout the league, fans were grappling with how the offseason changes made by their respective teams would play out. There was a great deal of speculation if Lebron James and Anthony Davis would make a difference for the Lakers in the LA market. Another talking point around the dinner table was how the Kevin Durant decision to exit the Golden State Warriors would affect their ability to compete. And, would Kwahi Leonard and Paul George signing with the Los Angeles Clippers finally put the team in a position to compete for a title. Lastly, how would the number one draft pick in this year’s draft, Zion Williamson, impact the New Orleans Pelicans in the South? This year it turns out that the old saying, “expect the unexpected” could not be more apropos.
The West could easily be dominated by the Clippers. In a strong showing last month they blew past the Los Angeles Lakers and proceeded to follow that with a dominant performance against the Golden State Warriors. Led by Kwahi Leonard, the team is hitting on all cylinders and that’s with the absence of Paul George. The Clipper fans have long waited for the team to be the major player in the LA market and this year could be the year.
The Lakers are expecting big things with the recent acquisitions of Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Dwight Howard. Throw in Quinn Cook and on paper, the Lakers appear to be a major contender. But can they jell as a team with all the personalities? With Lebron at the helm can they play selfless basketball and mesh as a team? The answer is tricky. It lies somewhere between playing well and not. Recent history has shown that when the team struggles, Lebron evolves into a one man show. That’s not a knock on his ability to lead, but successful teams win because players in his capacity are able to elevate their surrounding cast to play well. He’ll need to give up the ball and trust his teammates to execute.
The Golden State Warriors appear to be sucking wind after the exit of Kevin Durant. Add to that the injury to Klay Thompson and Steph Curry breaking his hand last month and things are looking pretty dire for team. Steve Kerr will need to scan the free agent market to find a player to help stop the bleeding.
The Brooklynn Nets are off to a rough start in 2019. The recent acquisitions of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan in the offseason have not panned out as expected. However, the Nets fans should not give up the ship just yet as the team could easily turn things around and make a play for the Eastern Conference title. If the team can minimize its turnovers and stay healthy, they could easily make a run for it.
In New Orleans, Zion Williamson’s contribution to the Pelicans has been put on hold since his knee injury during the preseason. The normal time frame for an injury such as his is six to eight weeks. His injury puts the Pelicans behind the eight ball, yet the one saving grace is that the team is in a rebuilding mode and should contend in years to come. In the interim, there have been some bright spots with Jahiil Okafor and JJ Redick picking up the mantle.
The one true fact is that the 2019/2020 season should be an exciting one. My personal take is that Milwaukee Bucks may be the team to beat in the East but who knows out West.