Top News

Free agents fire up new season in NBA

by Travis Politakis

The summer of 2019 was one of the busiest summers in NBA history, with superstar free agents joining new teams. Players such as Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Anthony David all found new homes in the 2019 summer. 

With all these new moves, there is no clear cut favorite to win the NBA Finals in 2020, which fans are ecstatic about. Since 2016, the Golden State Warriors were the obvious favorites to win The Finals, being they had a superteam consisting of former MVP’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, three-point champion Klay Thompson, and multiple time defensive player of the year Draymond Green. 

Within the summer of 2019, free agents moved away from forming “super teams” and transitioned into creating “dynamic duos”. 

One team that has high expectations going into the 2020 season is the Los Angeles Lakers. After a disappointing and injury stricken 2019 season, the new Lakers team is looking to bounce back in 2020. 

Aside from having the world-class LeBron James, the Lakers big acquisition of the summer of 2019 was All-Star center Anthony Davis. Many consider Davis to be the best big man in all of the NBA. The pairing of Davis and a healthy LeBron James along with proven role players such as Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, and Quinn Cook, the Lakers are poised for a special season. 

“I’ve heard a lot of talking about me this offseason and I am ready to go out and prove myself,” said James in a media day interview with ESPN. “I have a much needed chip on my shoulder.” 

Another team that will make noise in 2020 is the Los Angeles Clippers. Sharing the same arena as the Lakers, the fans of Los Angeles are in store for some exciting basketball in 2020. The Clippers’ big move of the 2019 summer was signing 2019 NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard and acquiring MVP candidate, Paul George, from the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

The Clippers were already a solid team in 2019 as they made the playoffs and have talented players such as sixth man of the year winner, Lou Williams and defensive specialist, Patrick Beverly. Adding Leonard and George to an already talented team is a recipe for success.

 Leonard has already proven he can win with anyone as he led the Toronto Raptors to their first ever NBA championship in 2019. The pairing of Leonard and George have the Clippers as the favorites to win the Western Conference and come in at the top of ESPN’s first power rankings in the 2020 season. 

Clippers owner, Steve Balmer, was so excited about the new additions that in the introductory press conference he stood up and enthusiastically motioned for all the media members to get up out of their seats and applaud the new additions. 

“Get up if you’re as fired up as I am that Kawhi and Paul are clippers,” Balmer shouted in the microphone. 

A team in the Eastern Conference that is ready to be a force: The Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia was knocked out of the playoffs on a last second, lucky game seven buzzer beater by Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors. The Sixers are hungry for revenge in 2020 and stocked up on talent during the summer. 

The Sixers added tremendous defensive talents to their roster by signing shooting guard, Josh Richardson, and power forward, Al Horford. The Sixers also kept their young core of Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid in tact. 

Also during the summer, All-Star guard, Ben Simmons, worked tirelessly on developing a jump shot which was something that hindered him in the 2019 playoffs. All-Star center, Joel Embiid, worked on his health during the summer, losing over 20 pounds. When healthy, Embiid is one of the most unstoppable players in the league, but injuries have held him back previously. 

Al Horford has helped the Sixers immensely with his ability to play both the forward and the center position, which can help give Joel Embiid rest. Horford’s defensive ability is elite, earning him an All-Star appearance five times. Horford also has the ability to shoot both the three and the mid-range jumper which is crucial for big men in today’s NBA. 

“I still cannot believe he [Horford] is on our team,” said 76ers coach, Brett Brown, in a press conference. “His presence and leadership is something that is so crucial for our young guys.”

Despite Philadelphia and Los Angeles landing  in the top three in ESPN’s power rankings, there is no clear cut favorite. Teams like the Brooklyn Nets and the Houston Rockets could make some noise and surprise people in 2020. 

Brooklyn added superstars Kevn Durant and Kyrie Irving. Although Durant will miss the 2020 season due to a torn achilles, which he suffered in the NBA Finals, the Nets are still expected to make the playoffs. When the Nets get Durant back, they have a chance to become the NBA’s best. 

The Houston Rockets traded for former MVP point guard Russell Westbrook. Houston now has a pairing of superstars with James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Nobody knows how this pairing is going to work, since they both need the ball in their hands to thrive, but if they can build chemistry and figure out a way to play with each other, they could be the best duo in the NBA. 

The NBA season opens on Wednesday, Oct. 23, with the Boston Celtics taking on the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the Los Angeles Clippers.

Travis Politakis can be reached at travis.politakis@theminaretonline.com

%d bloggers like this: