NBA Basketball is BACK!
After what felt like much longer than it was, the 3-month wait since July’s insane free agency is finally over, and the 2019-2020 NBA season is here.
The season that many expect to be one of the greatest ever has had quite the start…
Ben Simmons hit a three.
Kendrick Nunn is leading the Rookie of the Year race.
Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose are… back?
The Phoenix Suns are not that bad,
and the Warriors are… well we’ll get to that.
Oh yeah, and Joel Embiid just wrestled Karl-Anthony Towns.
Needless to say, this season has been anything but unsurprising thus far, and we are just over one week into it.
While the story-lines are endless, there have been some key takeaways after just one week of basketball specifically worthy of mention…
1) The Los Angeles Clippers are exactly what we thought they would be
After the acquisitions of Both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this Summer, the Los Angeles Clippers were immediately recognized as one of the scariest teams in the association. On paper, they pass just about every test you could come up with.
Star-Power? They’ve got it in Kawhi and PG.
Coaching? They’ve got it secured in Doc Rivers.
A bench? It quite literally does not get any better in this league than Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell coming off of you’re bench.
Chemistry? On point; the Clippers roster is made up of some of the most unselfish star talents today, with their two superstars along with guys like Lou Will and Patrick Beverley leading the charge.
But, look, nothing is real until we see it happen on the basketball court. While this all looked great on paper, we didn’t truly know exactly what the Clippers were going to be until we got to see it.
And even without Paul George in the rotation quite yet due to his recovering from Shoulder surgeries over the Summer, we have had all of our Clipper-expectations just about met.
In their first game of the season, Doc Rivers coached this team to a ten-point win against their rival Lakers, a game in which Kawhi Leonard appeared as the best player to touch the court by a mile. Since then, they have gone 3-2.
While a record of 4-2 to start the season may not scream champions, anybody who sits and legitimately watches this team play understands what they’re about. Anybody who watches this team play can see that the pieces are in place for them to make a championship run.
The chemistry is in place, Kawhi is as healthy as ever, Lou Will and Montrezl Harrell are still the bench mob, and Paul George looks as energetic and eager to play as he can be.
While I can’t say it’s suprising, I can say it is now validated: the Los Angeles Clippers, today, are the favorites to win the 2020 NBA Championship.
Now we just wait on PG…
2) LeBron James is not going to be the MVP
A lot of experts and fans had certain expectations for LeBron James this season.
A lot of experts and fans thought that LeBron James, after the longest stretch of time off basketball he has had in his entire career, was going to come out fresher and better than he has ever been.
A lot of experts and fans predicted that LeBron James would win this seasons Most Valuable Player award.
A lot of experts and fans were wrong.
Now do not misinterpret what I am saying as “father time has caught LeBron James. He is old and slow and weak and the Lakers won’t make the playoffs.”
Do not misinterpret what I am saying for that, because that is nonsense.
LeBron James is still one of the best players in the world. Offensively, he may still be the most all-around talented player in the league today (with Kevin Durant injured).
LeBron James is going to have a very good season, and he is going to lead the Lakers to a top 6 seed in the Western Conference, at the least.
However, watching him play, watching him play in comparison to some of the young talent we have in this league, it is extremely difficult to imagine a scenario where a 34 year-old LeBron James wins the 2020 MVP award.
The fact is that he isn’t what he once was in Miami. He isn’t what he was in Cleveland. He is what he is on the Lakers, and that is a man who understands priorities: takes it relatively easy during the regular season, and turns it up in April.
Although I must say, a 34 year old LeBron James who is, smartly, taking it easy, is still one of the leagues top players. That is how good this guy really is.
Having a player like Anthony Davis as you’re running mate, a top 5-10 offensive and defensive talent in the world, does not help James’ MVP case either.
In fact, I’ll say it: if anybody on the Los Angeles Lakers is going to win the MVP this season, it’s gonna be Anthony Davis. If the first four games have showed us anything, it’s that LeBron James is focused on getting AD the rock.
James has already stated that he plans on running the offense through Anthony Davis this season, and that notion along with the defensive load AD will carry gives him a much stronger chance at the MVP.
Actually, I may have just convinced myself to change my MVP pick from Giannis to Davis.
No, nevermind, I’m sticking with Giannis; I can’t switch up on my day-one pick so soon.
What I do feel is safe to say at this point of the season though, is that whether it is in fact Giannis, or Anthony Davis, or somebody else…
the Most Valuable Playerof the 2019-2020 NBA season will not be LeBron James.
3) Kevin Durant will NOT play this season
This is pretty simple.
Lets be honest, before the season began we all had a little feeling inside of us that maybe, just maybe, we will get to see Kevin Durant play in a Nets uniform this season.
But we now know that is not going to happen.
For those of you who don’t know, Kevin Durant went on ESPN’s First Take, a sports debate show starring analysts Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, on the afternoon of Halloween, and put the idea of him playing at all this season to rest.
At sometime during his roughly 20 minute interview, Stephen A. Smith had this to ask Kevin Durant:
“Are you holding out hope that [you can return] at some point in time in this season, assuming the Brooklyn Nets have a successful season and get to the playoffs again, or have you completely ruled out the possibility that you can return?
Stephen A. then clarified by asking, “You’re done? We won’t see you at all this year in a Brooklyn Nets uniform?
To this, KD could be seen shaking his head as he said, “No, I don’t plan on it.”
4) The Warrior’s season is over
So I have good news and bad news:
The bad news is that if you are one of the warriors fans still remaining after the departure of Kevin Durant and the injury to Klay Thompson, you’re favorite team’s season is officially over. They will be in next year’s draft lottery.
The good news on the other hand is that if you have D’Angelo Russell on you’re fantasy team, the points are going to come in BUNCHES.
Seriously though, it is tough to imagine feeling bad for franchise that is coming off of its fifth-straight finals appearance, but how could you not feel bad for this franchise and their fan base right now.
To put it in perspective, the Golden State Warriors past 6 games have looked like this:
6/10: Kevin Durant ruptures Achilles
6/13: Klay Thompson tears ACL
10/24: GS loses home opener in first game at their brand new Chase Arena
10/27: GS loses by 28 to a rebuilding Oklahoma City team
10/28: Sure, they won… against a Pelicans team missing 3 of their starters
10/30: Steph Curry breaks his hand
The point is, the Warriors have taken quite the 180 in the past year or so.
After Curry’s injury Thursday night against the Suns, a game in which the Warriors lost by the way, their aspirations for the season appear to be just about dispelled.
Their plans for the season now, because remember there are still another 78 games to play, will likely include the following:
Steph Curry and Draymond Green will be necessarily load-managed to a larger extent than they would like. Klay Thompson will be pushed to sit out the entire season in order to fully recover for the next. And as far as D’Angelo Russell goes, he is going to ball. He’ll be the focal point of the offense similar to how it was in Brooklyn last season. He will put up great numbers and increase his value around the league substantially, until he is inevitably traded for an asset to better fit with next season’s Warriors.
By the time next season starts, Golden State will be ready to go with their big 3 of Steph, Klay and Dray, and whatever they can get for a package including D’Angelo Russell and the top 14 draft-pick they will most likely end up with.
So yes, this season does appear to be just about a lost cause for the new-look Warriors. However, do not think for a second that their championship window is closed. Do not think for a second that the days of watching Steph and Klay break three-point record after three-point record are over.
The Golden State Warriors will be back, I am confident in that.
Just not as soon as their fan base may like.
5) Kristaps Porzingis is healthy
When the Dallas Mavericks traded for Kristaps Porzingis on January 31, 2019 they took a risk.
They bet that Porzingis would recover this past Summer from his torn left ACL suffered on February 6th of 2018.
They bet that he and Mavericks star Luka Doncic would mesh, both on and off the court.
They bet on the young duo honing the ability to carry this Mavericks franchise that hasn’t seen the playoffs in four years, to a brighter future.
And with a little assistance from Golden State’s unfortunate injury bug, the Maverick’s risks may pay off soon, real soon.
Most importantly, Porzingis looks good! Porzingis looks healthy, and he looks good. In four games this season, the 7’3 Unicorn has put up 22, 8, and 3 in just over 30 minutes per game.
Him and Luka seem to have bonded both on and off the court, forming a relationship founded on the grounds of their international heritage: Porzingis being Latvian and Doncic Slovenian.
Dallas may just be able to slide into this seasons playoffs, and if they do, it will be no doubt behind the lead of young superstar Luka Doncic and a HEALTHY Kristaps Porzingis.
– By Zack Weiss