It’s been a minute since my last sports-related blog but NBA free agency came in like a bat out of hell and reset the NBA. This is a glorious day. No longer is it the Warriors (if they stay healthy) and everyone else.
We have Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant to thank for this…mostly Kawhi. The NBA is now made up of 5 types of teams.
- True Contenders.
- We just hit the reset button “process teams”
- Up and coming but still too young. (Excited fan base)
- We don’t know what we are doing at all.
I want to focus on who I think the “true contenders” are.
True Contenders: WEST
- The Los Angeles Clippers: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George add star power to a well-coached team with solid role players. In many ways, this team is like the one in Boston that won the title under Doc Rivers. They have a good mix of stars and elite role players. They still need to add a frontcourt player but as we have seen before they can be added mid-season, and I expect the Clippers would be a top destination for any big man that gets bought during the year.
- Golden State Warriors: They lost substantial assets with Durant and Iggy gone. Klay might not play at all next year until the playoffs. Still, they add DeAngelo Russell who they can trade if need be. They keep Looney and add Willie Cauley-Stien. This could be a much grimier Warriors team come playoff time and they still have Championship pedigree.
- The Los Angeles Lakers: This team is pretty much the 2017-18 Pelicans with Lebron James and Kyle Kuzma on it. So what does that mean? I’m not sure. If Cousins can be healthy and stay on the floor, a team with a 6 man rotation of Davis, James, Cousins, Kuzma, Rondo, and Danny Green is formidable. They are paper thin at guard however and have bad chemistry potential if things go wrong.
- Utah Jazz: The Darling of NBA writers everywhere. I need to see it first. Mike Conley is a great addition but I actually think Utah gave up a lot to get him. There are nice pieces in place but they still lack a true superstar. I see them as a good regular season team that will probably lose to a team seeded below them in the playoffs. When I close my eyes I just cannot envision this team playing for the title next year. In this way the might not even be a true contender but NBA writers say they are, and who am I to judge those morons?
- Portland Trailblazers: Not much to say except Lillard and CJ with a healthy Nurkic should have a say in the western conference. I don’t know what the Whiteside deal does for them but they no longer have scrub Meyers Leonard and I say that’s addition by subtraction.
- Denver Nuggets: A situation similar to Portland’s the Warriors got worse so they look better. Another year playing together this team could take a step forward again. They are still too young to really threaten a title but they need to be on the list in a year where there is no clear giant to slay.
I refuse to put the Rockets on here. Those LA teams would both wipe the floor with Houston in a playoff series.
True Contenders: EAST
*If KD wasn’t injured Brooklyn would probably be #1 in my East ranks but sadly no KD means they won’t contend this year.
- Milwaukee Bucks: Teams go through growing pains and last year it happened to the Bucks. A great regular season and a #1 seed did not equal a title appearance. Now, this is a more veteran team, a team with a few battle scars. Oh, and they have the MVP. Losing Brogdon wasn’t great but this is still a very dangerous team.
- The Sixers: They would be my clear cut #1 seed in the East if Jimmy Butler was their max contract extension and not Tobias Harris. That didn’t happen. I don’t love this team with Harris but someone has to come out of the East. It’s in the rules. So if you can contend for the East then you are a contender, and Philly is certainly that.
- Boston: Kemba led Boston is very intriguing to me. There is something I like about this teams potential just from Tatum and Brown getting better and Kemba being a better fit. A healthy Heyward goes a long way. Losing Horford is bad short term but probably fine long term, the last years of his contract in Philly will be hard to live up too. Boston is probably my favorite in the east and I know Danny Ainge might have a midseason move up his sleeve…Maybe they trade for Brad Beal midseason who knows?
- Indiana Pacers: The other NBA media darling is the Pacers. Again I think they have a great regular season and they fall apart in the playoffs. They still seem a player away to me. Most of these East teams do.
Up and coming young teams:
From the West, I see two teams: Dallas and New Orleans. I love New Orleans and I would love to see them in the playoffs. They are too young and unproven to be a true contender but they could and should make the playoffs and give someone (hopefully the Lakers) a hell of a series.
Maybe this is the homer in me but I like the Chicago Bulls roster and how it fits. They made small but good offseason moves by adding Thad Young and Tomas Satoransky to fill in the gaps. The Bulls were a tough out for teams when Lauri Markkanen was healthy and the team was motivated. I am very unsure about the coach but the roster construction has me optimistic.
Atlanta is another team on the rise but they are like the of Bulls last year, still way too young to be anything but back in the lottery.
Reset Button Teams:
Memphis (almost to young an up and coming but not there yet.)
The rebuilding has begun for these three, the reset button was hit with authority. You could argue the Hornets hit the reset button, but how do you reset when you never made the playoffs? They lost Kemba and got nothing for him. The Hornets belong to the…
We don’t know what we are doing at all teams:
not much to say here.
Stuck in NBA Purgatory:
Pistons: Who knows what this team is doing?
Orlando Magic: Just happy to be here and not a worse category.
San Antonio Spurs: How the mighty have fallen.
Miami Heat: I love Jimmy Butler but what a weird move. I thought you were about winning? Better start wooing Giannis now.
SubCategory of NBA Purgatory are teams that I think want to hit the reset button but can’t:
Houston Rockets: ew
Washington Wizards: gross