‘A change is gonna come’ sang Sam Cooke, and as the 2019/20 NBA season kicks off, change is here and all the power has seemingly shifted to Los Angeles.
Oracle Arena was where the Golden State Warriors called home for their phase of dominance, but as they move to San Francisco and the Chase Centre, the balance in the West has shifted down the coastline.
LA has become the NBA’s power city, with both of its teams making big moves this summer. However, with added star power comes higher expectations, and, as Sean Connery once said, ‘There can be only one.”
Showtime could be back at the Staples Center. Not only is LeBron James coming back from the most rest he’s ever had in 17 seasons in the league, but after giving away a King’s Ransom to the New Orleans Pelicans, Anthony Davis is finally a Laker.
AD and LBJ could be one of the most dynamic duos to ever play the league, but the bigger test for coach Frank Vogel might be how he copes with a less than stellar cast to supplement his superstars.
No one will accept anything less than a massive improvement on 37 wins last year, but only time will tell if they are able to pick up over 50 victories, something they haven’t managed since 2011.
After winning the NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors, for weeks and weeks Kawhi Leonard had everyone second-guessing where he would pick as his new home or if he’d stay put with the champions.
While the media were looking left, the Klaw zagged right and convinced Paul George to join him at the Clips, forcing the Oklahoma City Thunder to part with the six-time All-Star.
Doc Rivers now has his own power duo, but PG13 will be out for around the first 10 games, putting the emphasis on Leonard to get the ball rolling. However, having a squad which looks stronger than their neighbours definitely gives them an advantage.
Lou Williams is one of the best six-men in the NBA. Patrick Beverley will set the tone on defence, making sure everyone follows his lead and the addition of Maurice Harkless adds depth.
The Clippers won 48 games last season. It’s hard not to believe the new additions add at least another five or six, especially when George is back and fit for the playoffs.
All questions used to centre around whether or not the Warriors would win the title. Now we have to wonder if they will make the playoffs.
The West is stacked. Competition is as fierce as ever, but with Kevin Durant now a Brooklyn Net and Klay Thompson out until the latter stages of the regular season, it is a lot of pressure to put on Steph Curry, regardless of how often he continues to defy what we think he is capable of.
D’Angelo Russell joins him in the Bay, and Steve Kerr needs to get him on side ASAP, or it could be a disappointing season in San Francisco.
Yet, if they are in contention and finish in the top eight spots – assuming Klay comes back 100% fit and ready to go – this is the playoff team you would want to avoid.
Elsewhere in the West, GM Daryl Morey has again gone big, bringing Russell Westbrook to the Toyota Centre, reuniting him with fellow former Thunder guard James Harden.
A lot has changed since the two last played together. Harden is now an MVP candidate and one of the most ball-dominant players in the game… Just like Russ.
How these two combine together is going to be fascinating and if Mike D’Antoni can pull it off, he should be Coach of the Year. Achieve those heights and the Rockets will be pushing for a place in the Finals.
But that’s a lot of ifs. Basketball is not played on paper and this could also burn up in flames.
After losing 4-2 to the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Championships, the Bucks, led by the incredible Giannis Antetokounmpo, are looking to go one better this term.
Malcolm Brodgon, the 2017 Rookie of the Year, has left for Indiana, but they still have the majority of last year’s roster, adding in two brothers to the team. Thanasis, the older brother of Giannis and Robin Lopez, brother of fellow big man Brook
Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe continue where they left off and will be expected to supplement the Greek Freak towards recording the best record in the league.
The 2018/19 MVP becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2021, meaning he will start discussions on a new contract next summer. If the Bucks can prove they can continue to be contenders, it would definitely help negotiations.
Brett Brown and the Sixers were one shot away from a place in the Eastern Finals. Kawhi’s dagger from the corner ended their hopes and dreams and now they are back to try and dominate the conference.
Jimmy Butler has moved on to Miami, Tobias Harris resigned and Al Horford joined from the Celtics. He will help keep Joel Embiid fit and healthy through the season.
Reportedly, Ben Simmons has been working on his three-point shot, which if it proves effective could be a game-changer.
Defences already have to worry about Embiid and Harris, throw the Australian into the mix and the 76ers become a true triple-threat from the perimeter.
An upgrade on the outside could be enough to take them up to the next level and favourites to win the East.