By: Chris O’Keefe
How Five of the Most Changed Franchises Will Fare in the 2019-2020 NBA Season
1. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have been the most dominant team in the 2010’s decade. They have won 3 championships since 2015 including back to back championships in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons. However three of the main players from their dominant run will not be with the team to start the season. 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Igoudala who was released in the offseason. They will also be without three point specialist Klay Thompson who is a multi time all-star and cornerstone for the franchise. He tore his ACL on Game 6 of the conference final round last season. And last but certainly not least is Kevin Durant. A bonafide Hall of Famer and scoring champion, as well as two time finals MVP. He left in free agency for the Brooklyn Nets. However the Warriors were able to perform a sign and trade deal with the Nets landing them All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell. Russell had an outstanding breakout year and a very solid most improved player campaign. He is likely to play shooting guard for the Warriors. The Warriors are still a good team in the western conference projected for a top 5 seed finish.
2. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets have been a great team for the last few years. Although they haven’t been to the NBA Finals in the James Harden era, they have always gone deep in the playoffs and have been in the conference finals. The team has made one of the biggest blockbuster trades this offseason landing the Hardens former teammate MVP point guard Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Chris Paul and draft picks. The two MVPs have the potential to be very good or very bad this season. Both players like to take over 30 shots per game and go for triple double stat lines. It’s possible that if they can work together and put their self interests aside they can be a top 3 seed in the Western Conference. However, we will need to see them play together before any true predictions can be made.
3. Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets had a very good offseason, signing both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, both NBA Champions and multi time all-stars. They were also able to land former LA Clippers center Deandre Jordan. Kyrie will have a big impact on the team and carry most of the workload this season due to KD’s Achilles injury suffered in last seasons playoffs with the Warriors. The Nets however are still set for a remarkable run in the Eastern Conference due to the lack of real talent in the conference with the only other real competition being the 76ers, Bucks, and Celtics. However, when Irving was traded to Boston he did not fit in well with the team. If he can fit in with the Nets roster and coaches, as well as run the same type of system they ran last year with D’Angelo Russell, it’s plausible to say that Irving and the Nets will thrive. Although Nets fans are excited for this season the entire league is looking to next season when KD joins the team. The Nets are projected to finish in the top two teams in the East.
4. Los Angeles Clippers
Another team from the Western Conference the Los Angeles Clippers are expected to be a top team. With the huge signing of last season’s NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard the Clips are looking good led by the fun guy. With the addition of Leonard, Paul George was traded for from the OKC Thunder hours later. It’s known that Kawhi would only sign if they traded for PG and NBA legend Jerry West made it happen. These two all-star caliber players are being added to a stellar lineup showcasing defensive guard Pat Beverly, multi time sixth man of the year Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. The Clippers will be one of if not the best defensive team in the league if not of all time. Paul George who was a candidate for MVP last year is known for his elite two-way style of play. The Klaw Kawhi is a former defensive player of the year and Pat Beverly is a top defensive guard. They are led by the defensive minded head coach Doc Rivers as well. The Clippers are looking at a top two seed in the West next season.
5. Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers thought they would be a playoff contending team last season after the signing of future Hall of Famer LeBron James. However, when the team was plagued with injuries including LeBron and Lonzo Ball. They went into a downward spiral and still weren’t good enough for the playoffs when James returned. They also went through a lot of trade deadline drama last season when practically the entire roster was offered in exchange for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis. Thankfully once the offseason rolled around the Lakers were able to trade Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart, along with a slew of first round picks. The Lakers signed many new names including shooting guard Danny Green who was a three point shooter for last season champion Raptors. They also signed all-star center Demarcus Cousins who will not play at all this season after tearing his ACL in a summer workout, leaving the team to sign Dwight Howard to back up Javale McGee. Even with all the injuries, drama, and new faces the Lakers are projected for a top 3 seed finish.