Only one team can win every year. It’s a shame–especially since there are 30 teams–but that’s the whole point, I guess. You can have the goddamn Greek freak Giannis Antetokounmpo on your team and still not make the Finals. It’s absolute madness. The only people who predicted the Golden State Warriors to win yet again in 2022 were the Warriors themselves, and the only people who predicted them to face the Celtics in the finals were the Celtics. Predicting this sport is silly, and yet, I’m going to do it anyway. Below is a rundown of what every team in the NBA has going for it heading into the 2022-2023 season–what fans should be excited about, and what fans should fear.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, Wesley Matthews, Grayson Allen, Jordan Nwora, Serge Ibaka, Sandro Mamukelashvili
In their Game 3 loss against the Celtics this past playoff series, the core trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, and Jrue Holiday scored 80 points, while the entire rest of their team accounted for just 23 of their 103-point total. It’s a stat I love to bring up because however the Bucks choose to move on from this loss will decide their success this season. They ended up losing 109-103, behind by only six points. There are two ways to look at what happened. No. 1 is that All-Star Khris Middleton wasn’t on the court due to a knee injury. Had he been healthy, the defending champs may have been able to get to the finals. Viewpoint No. 2 is that the Bucks have had a starting lineup problem ever since they refused to pay P.J. Tucker enough money to stay last season. In Game 3 against the Celtics, guard Grayson Allen shot 0-6 and Wesley Matthews added just three points. It took Giannis’ massive 42-point game with nine made-threes to get them even close to that 103-point total. Based on their roster moves this off-season (if you can say they made any at all), the consensus in Milwaukee seems to be the former–that with Khris back, they shouldn’t have the same problems.
- DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams, Ayo Dosunmu, Alex Caruso, Goran Dragic, Coby White, Javonte Green, Andre Drummond, Marko Simonovic
Lonzo Ball’s lingering pain following knee surgery is not a good sign for the Bulls this upcoming season, especially since the starting point-guard is poised to miss both training camp and possibly the beginning of the season as well. Whether Chicago planned this contingency or not, luckily most of the roster consists of guards who can momentarily take his place, including Ayo Dosunmu, Alex Caruso, Coby White, rookie Dalen Terry, and recently signed free agent Goran Dragic. The Bulls also still have Zack LaVine and last year’s potential MVP, DeMar DeRozan. As of now, starting-lineup trust in Chicago remains with Patrick Williams–a power-forward who averaged just 9 points-per-game last season–but what the Bulls could really use is more consistent three-point shooting.
- Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, Raul Neto, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Dean Wade, Dylan Windler, Robin Lopez
Forget everything you thought about the Cleveland Cavaliers because they just made one of the most game-changing moves this off-season. Without losing the core trio of Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, or Evan Mobley, the Cavs acquired Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell for Lauri Markkanen, free-agent Collin Sexton, three first-round picks, and draft pick Ochai Agbaji. While some fans are sure to be disappointed that Ochai was traded, this is a huge win for the Cavaliers. With Garland at point-guard, Mitchell won’t have to run the show. Plus, Allen and Mobley were a way better defensive combo last season than Gobert alone. It seems like a perfect fit.
- Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White, Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard, Danilo Gallinari, Blake Griffin, Luke Kornet
The Celtics are running it back this year and they’ll have a little more help from the bench. Before, Boston had maybe three players to safely rotate in: Derrick White, Grant Williams, and Payton Pritchard. This season, Malcolm Brogdan will join, a point-guard who averaged 19.1 points-per-game last season starting for the Pacers. They’ll also still have 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart. Not having Robert Williams III for the start of the year as he recovers from a knee injury will definitely hurt a Boston squad spread pretty thin (especially while, ya know, they’re also dealing with the Ime Udoka fallout), but they have a couple contingency plans. Just the week, they signed free agent Blake Griffin from the Nets and rolled out an experimental three-guard starting five of Smart, White, Brown, Tatum, and Horford. It seems like a pretty good fix and one they should keep working through.
Los Angeles Clippers
- Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall, Reggie Jackson, Normal Powell, Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac, Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris Sr., Robert Covington, Amir Coffey, Moses Brown
In 2019, Kawhi Leonard came in like a mercenary in the night and won a championship for his sole year on the Toronto Raptors. Tearing his ACL after moving to LA to play with Paul George, Kawhi’s return for the 2022-2023 season will be his first time back in over a year. Luckily, he reenters the game with a Clippers team even better than the last. Paul George is a perennial All-Star, Reggie Jackson is probably playing the best basketball of his life despite entering his 14th year, and an imploding Trail Blazers squad brought in both Norman Powell and Robert Covington. The Clippers also picked up John Wall, a speedy former All-Star point-guard who also hasn’t played in a good while. Sure, roughly three guys who haven’t touched the court since the 2020-2021 season may be cause for alarm, but these aren’t just any three guys. The Clippers are also a top pick for what is arguably the deepest team in the league this year, as well. LA’s second unit–Jackson, Powell, Kennard, Morris, and Covington–looks better than some starting lineups this year.
- Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams, Tyus Jones, Danny Green, Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman, Santi Aldama, Kenny Lofton Jr.
The small-market Grizzlies turned a five-year playoff absence into a successful team that was No. 2 in the West last season by betting on developing young players such as Ja Morant and Desmond Bane. Morant won Rookie of the Year in 2020 and then Most Improved Player in 2022. Some may just call that obvious growth, but his talent cannot be denied. The 23-year-old has completely transformed the atmosphere in Memphis for the better. Danny Green will join the bench this year and hopefully offer some veteran experience, but the Grizzlies are doing mighty fine. These are still young guys with tons of years ahead of them, and some, like Jaren Jackson Jr., even rose to become the 2022 NBA blocks leader. A fun surprise: back-up forward Santi Aldama has shown major improvement this off-season. He’s shot three games over 20 points throughout the pre-season, and may even start in Jackson Jr.’s absence as the power-forward recovers from a foot injury.
- Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, Clint Capella, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Lou Williams, AJ Griffin, Justin Holiday, Jalen Johnson, Frank Kaminsky, Onyeka Okongwu
Trae Young has needed help for years. There are only so many times a guy can put up 40+ point games and somehow still lose before he cracks. Eyeing that the Spurs were in full tank, the Hawks worked out a deal that brought them a star guard in Dejounte Murray. Last season, Murray had career-high points-per-game, field-goal percentage, rebounds, assists, and steals. In fact, he was the 2022 steals leader. That’s all to say that a guy who is playing the best basketball of his life so far is now Trae Young’s right-hand man. Nothing else about the Hawks has changed, but maybe they’ll at least secure a better spot in the playoffs.
- Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Victor Oladipo, Tyler Herro, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Nikola Jovic, Dewayne Dedmon, Javonte Smart, Omer Yurtseven
There’s a lot I don’t understand about the Heat. Jimmy Butler is one of the best players in the NBA and he’s paired with one of the best defensive giants in Bam Adebayo. So why are they surrounded by Max Strus and Caleb Martin–two potential starters in Miami who barely passed 10 points per game last year, if that. They’re good role players, don’t get me wrong, but guys like Strus have had plenty of time to prove that they should be the shooting guard to help out Butler without delivering at all. Just 8 points in their final game against the Heat with 35 minutes on the floor? Eek. He aimed to prove me wrong by shooting five three-pointers for 24 points in a pre-season game on Oct. 10, but I’ll call fluke for now. How they held on to Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro for a new $130m/4-year deal instead of him finding a starting role somewhere else is also beyond me. I hear the Suns are looking to move Jae Crowder–the Heat better raise their hands as fast as possible.
- LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges, Mason Plumlee, James Bouknight, Cody Martin, Kelly Oubre Jr., P.J. Washington, Bryce McGowens, Jalen McDaniels, Mark Williams
Since drafting 2021 Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball, the Hornets have only reached as far as the play-in tournament. It was also just last year, which means the Charlotte squad is on the right track. However, some unfortunate events occurred this offseason. They rehired a formerly-fired Hornets coach, which can’t be good energy. Miles Bridges, one of their up-and-coming stars, was also arrested on felony domestic violence charges. LaMelo, as well, just suffered a pre-season ankle sprain. There is one rookie I’m excited to keep an eye on in Charlotte this year–No. 15 pick Mark Williams. He’s a 7-foot center and a former ACC Defensive Player of the Year for Duke who led all of collegiate basketball in dunks this past season. If there’s any season to get some minutes, this is it. Maybe Charlotte should tank for Victor Wembanyama too.
- Mike Conley, Collin Sexton, Malik Beasley, Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Clarkson, Talen Horton-Tucker, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Ochai Agbaji, Jarred Vanderbilt, Rudy Gay, Cody Zeller
Danny Ainge, a basketball executive known for completely ripping apart franchises, came to Salt Lake City and did just that. Making the playoffs but never meaningfully advancing, the Jazz entered a full rebuild this off-season–trading away Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Royce O’Neale, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Hustle star Juancho Hernangomez. In return, they got some decent players like Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen, but they’re sure to struggle heavily throughout the upcoming season. Utah is also far from finished when it comes to deal making. Before the trade deadline, I wouldn’t be surprised if Conley and Clarkson were out as well. I mentioned that this is the season to tank for Victor Wembanyama already, didn’t I?
- Keegan Murray, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Harrison Barnes, Domantas Sabonis, Davion Mitchell, Kevin Huerter, Richaun Holmes, Kent Bazemore, Terence Davis, KZ Okpala, Trey Lyles
The Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006. It’s the longest drought for any team in the NBA, and they’re closer than ever at potentially sneaking in for a play-in spot this season (especially since the Jazz and the Spurs will both likely not be making a return to the postseason in 2023). Sacramento picked up Malik Monk, a great guard who was wasting his time playing off the bench in Los Angeles. The Kings were also just bad enough last season to get the No. 4 draft pick, Keegan Murray. He was easily the best and most consistent player at the 2022 Summer League, even winning MVP honors to prove it. If he’s the player he appears to be, maybe he can turn Sacramento around in the next four to five years.
New York Knicks
- Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Evan Fournier, Mitchell Robinson, Immanuel Quickley, Derrick Rose, Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin, Miles McBride, Cam Reddish, Jericho Sims
The Knicks bet everything on acquiring Jalen Brunson in free agency this off-season. With a healthy amount of tampering, like hiring his father to their coaching staff, it seems to have paid off. What that means for New York is another question entirely. Brunson is definitely a piece towards success, but he can’t make up for the Knicks’ other problems on his own. The Garden squad also don’t have a history of turning good players into even better players after they put on the blue and orange jersey. The up-side: the Knicks now hold a massive 21-pick stash through 2029, including an unheard-of four first-round picks in 2023.
Los Angeles Lakers
- LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverly, Tomas Bryant, Dennis Schroder, Lonnie Walker IV, Austin Reaves, Kendrick Nunn, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Scotty Pippen Jr.
LeBron James acted as both a player and a GM for the 2021-2022 season, attempting to assemble a super-team made up of all of his friends. For starters, the Lakers sent a ton of valuable bench players away for Russell Westbrook and he massively underperformed. AD was hampered by injuries once again, Dwight Howard was not the Superman he was a decade ago, and a 37-year-old LeBron James (despite still averaging 30 points a night), only played for 56 games. They not only missed the playoffs, but their failure became the laughing stock of the NBA. They’ve got a new coach this year, and a better help from Patrick Beverly, Lonnie Walker, Kendrick Nunn, and a returned Dennis Schroder, but we can’t expect the Lakers to really just go back to being title contenders without some proof this whole thing works better than last year.
- Paolo Banchero, Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton, Mo Bamba, Chuma Okeke, Bol Bol, Caleb Houstan, Jonathan Isaac
I’m really excited about what No. 1 draft pick Paolo Banchero can do for Orlando. The Magic are currently in year three of the rebuild, and they’ve been racking up some good talent. With that in mind, they don’t have the best development program. Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, and Markelle Fultz are all great players, but their stats have only moved incrementally since college. Mo Bamba, one of the most cited examples, is a 7-foot No. 6 pick who hasn’t averaged more than 10.6 points or 8 rebounds since joining the team in 2018. I wish Paolo the best, but he may not want to make Orlando his home base after proving he’s already got what it takes. That is, unless the Magic can keep having the worst team in the East to rack up never-ending No. 1 picks. Wembanyama anyone?
- Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, Spencer Dinwiddie, Christian Wood, Dorian Finney-Smith, JaVale McGee, Dwight Powell, Josh Green, Maxi Kleber, Frank Ntilikina, Davis Bertans
Luka Doncic and the Dallas crew finally made it past the first round of the playoffs last season by defeating the Utah Jazz (for good, it seems), and it was all thanks to elevated play from Spencer Dinwiddie and Jalen Brunson. They may have lost the latter, but picking up Christian Wood and JaVale McGee could turn the Mavericks into a sort of Iron Wall-style defense. Maybe I’m giving Dallas too much credit, but I’m digging this starting lineup. Luka, as always, will be an MVP contender, and they’ll also get Tim Hardaway Jr. back this year.
- Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Patty Mills, Joe Harris, Royce O’Neale, Markieff Morris, T.J. Warren, Nic Claxton, Cam Thomas, Yuta Watanabe, Day’Ron Sharpe
It’s time to acknowledge the Brooklyn Nets as the Lakers in the East. Like the LA outfit, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are too good to barely be playing any games, and it’s insane that a lineup that should look like the best team in the league has garnered nearly zero confidence from sportscasters and fans. Brooklyn also still has a major problem on defense, which they’ll need to address unless they just think they can lay down more buckets in an offensive battle like they unsuccessfully did last year. I’m willing to throw my trust back into the Nets as a title contender if they actually show up to play, but man is it odd that a team that looks this good on paper hasn’t even made it to a Conference Final in the Durant/Irving era.
- Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown, Jeff Green, Bones Hyland, DeAndre Jordan, Ish Smith, Zeke Nnaji, Christian Braun
Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic had to play missing two starters last season and the Nuggets were still decently formidable as a sixth-seed. To make up the deficit, Denver acquired Jeff Green, Aaron Gordon, DeMarcus Cousins, and Bryn Forbes. It almost worked, but they fell to the eventual champs in the first round of the playoffs. Murray and Porter returning should only bolster the starting lineup, and additions such as Bruce Brown and Caldwell-Pope could help as well when Jokic isn’t on the floor. Because, really, what to do when Jokic isn’t on the floor is Denver’s top concern.
- Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, Bennedict Mathurin, Oshae Brissett, T.J. McConnell, Daniel Theis, Chris Duarte, Goga Bitadze, Jalen Smith, Trevelin Queen
With Myles Turner apparently on the chopping block after trading away both Malcolm Brogdan and T.J. Warren this offseason, the Pacers seem to be abandoning any hope of their current rebuild to start over from scratch again. They got the No. 6 pick, Arizona forward Bennedict Mathurin, but I can smell Indiana joining the tank-for-Wembanyama train, even in they won’t admit it. Not securing DeAndre Ayton after offering him the largest offer sheet in NBA history was also a massive blow. Unless they move Haliburton, Hield, and Turner by the trade deadline, tanking for Scoot Henderson may be more in their wheelhouse.
New Orleans Pelicans
- Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, Jonas Valunciunas, Larry Nance Jr., Herb Jones, Devonte’ Graham, Jose Alvarado, Dyson Daniels, Naji Marshall, Trey Murphy III, Willy Hernangomez
Zion is back, and much like Kawhi with the Clippers, he’s rejoining a team that has vastly improved thanks to the Trail Blazers imploding last season. New Orleans acquired Portland’s CJ McCollum and Larry Nance at the same time that rookies Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado came into their own. Who else can I shout out? Brandon Ingram improved, Willy Hernangomez just helped Spain win the FIBA Championships, Trey Murphy III dropped seven three-pointers the other night, and rookie Dyson Daniels was the top G League prospect. I have high hopes for New Orleans this season.
- Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart, Alec Burks, Killian Hayes, Marvin Bagley III, Nerlens Noel, Cory Joseph, Kevin Knox II, Jalen Duren, and Kemba Walker
Year three of the Pistons rebuild feels like it’s on the right track. After missing the playoffs for the eighth time in ten years during the 2020-2021 season, Detroit offloaded Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson. Their demise brought them the No. 1 pick overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, where they selected point-guard Cade Cunningham. This year, they got two of the best picks in Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. In my brain, I’m treating these guys as the next Grizzlies and Ivey as the next Morant. At the very least, they’re definitely one of the most exciting, young teams this season.
- Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Precious Achiuwa, Otto Porter Jr., Chris Boucher, Malachi Flynn, Christian Koloko, Dalano Banton, Juancho Hernangomez
I know no one really wants to move to Toronto to play basketball, but Toronto may just have the best development program in the league. Scottie Barnes won Rookie of the Year. VanVleet, Siakam, Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., and Precious Achiuwa all get better every year. This is a really exciting squad. They’ll also have a bit of a bench this season. Otto Porter Jr. is coming over after winning a championship with the Warriors and Hustle star Juancho Hernangomez was finally signed in free agency after helping Spain win FIBA Championships. Will surely be paying attention to Toronto this season.
- Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., Eric Gordon, Alperen Sengun, Kevin Porter Jr., TyTy Washington Jr., Josh Christopher, Jae’Sean Tate, Bruno Fernando, Tari Eason, Usman Garuba, Boban Marjanovic
John Wall may have derailed the Rockets’ rebuild for nearly two years due to contract disputes, but after having the worst record in the league last season, the promising rookies are finally coming to Houston. For starters, they doubled up on No. 2 picks two years in a row with Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. The Rockets also landed Tari Eason this year at No. 17 (with one of their Harden to the Nets trade picks I believe), and the 6’8″ power-forward has just been a walking double-double. I’m not expecting a ton from Houston, considering they did go 20-62 last year, but maybe they can improve to a noticeable 30 wins.
- Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, PJ Tucker, Tobias Harris, De’Anthony Melton, Matisse Thybulle, Paul Reed, Furkan Korkmaz, Georges Niang, Danuel House Jr., Montrezl Harrell
Back in 2019, then-president of the Houston Rockets Daryl Morey presided over a lineup of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and Daniel House Jr. Entering the 2022 season with the 76ers, Morey has reassembled a good chunk of this squad in Philadelphia, including Harden, Tucker, and House. Hell, he even shot for Gordon but the Rockets didn’t budge. Why? I think he just likes working with them. That squad lost 4-1 in a second-round playoff exit against LeBron and the Lakers back in the 2019-2020 season, but perhaps they’ll do better with Embiid and Maxey at the helm. Embiid will also, of course, be shooting for the MVP Award he thought he deserved last year. I can’t speak to how those decisions are made, but I will say that I don’t think anyone would have complained had they named him instead of back-to-back wins for Jokic.
San Antonio Spurs
- Keldon Johnson, Josh Richardson, Jakob Poeltl, Joshua Primo, Malaki Branham, Devin Vassell, Romeo Langford, Jeremy Sochan, Doug McDermott, Isaiah Roby, Tre Jones, Keita Bates-Diop
Welcome to the new worst team in the league. If anyone is tanking for Victor Wembanyama, it’s San Antonio. The only problem is that even though the Spurs front office might be doing everything they can to make sure they don’t succeed, guys like Richardson, Johnson, and Vassell haven’t lost the drive to improve. They even made the play-in last year. Sure, they had Dejounte Murray at the time, but his exit is the final nail in the coffin for now. Everyone in dunking on them this pre-season. Even Orlando and Houston. Sorry, San Antonio.
- Devin Booker, Chris Paul, DeAndre Ayton, Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Cameron Payne, Landry Shamet, Torrey Craig, Duane Washington Jr., Ish Wainright, Bismack Biyombo
Phoenix has both decided to run it back and fail at the same this year, it’s astounding in a weird way. Mainly, because they went No. 1 in the West with a 64-18 record last season. Since then, the team has been forced to sell due to shitty ownership, pay the maximum to keep Ayton, and completely sideline Jae Crowder. Crowder? That’s what you thought wasn’t working here? Crazy. Feels like Phoenix’s best bet is another decent regular season followed by a disappointing second-round exit. To expecting anything else after few changes in three years would be a miracle–especially with the drama behind the scenes likely taking up the narrative this season.
Oklahoma City Thunder
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Chet Holmgren, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley, Aleksej Pokusevski, Jalen Williams, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Aaron Wiggins, Tre Mann, Marquese Chriss
I feel really bad for Thunder fans this year. Chet Holmgren, out for the season, before it even began. Sure, that means another season of poor play could net them another great pick next year, but some of these rookies look like they can actually move. Jalen Williams in particular. Josh Giddey is still amazing as an assist man, but my bigger fear is how much longer guys like Shai and Giddey will stick around in Oklahoma City waiting for Chet to hit his third, fourth year. There wasn’t much else to be excited about this season, but I’m hopeful for their massive draft-pick pool. 30 picks throughout 2029–the largest haul of any team in the league.
- Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert, D’Angelo Russell, Jaden McDaniels, Kyle Anderson, Bryn Forbes, Jordan McLaughlin, Taurean Prince, Eric Paschall, Austin Rivers, Naz Reid
The idea that Rudy Gobert is going to run up in here and make Minnesota title contenders is kind of silly. I think it opens up a lot of new doors for the Timberwolves. It lets Towns focus on scoring over defense, and it also ushers in another Twin Cities era. Fun. It’s the kind of move that could get Minnesota from a seven-seed to a five-seed, and that’s worth some form of cheer. My eyes are on Anthony Edwards, however, who seems to be the real cornerstone in Minnesota.
Portland Trail Blazers
- Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, Jerami Grant, Jusuf Nurkic, Shaedon Sharpe, Gary Payton II, Keon Johnson, Nassir Little, Drew Eubanks, Brandon Williams, Trendon Watford
Lillard’s commitment to Portland is admirable, even if it doesn’t feel like the best move for his career should he want to win a championship. He’s got a lot of hopeful talent around him in Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe, but I don’t know if it’s enough to become a play-in team this season in the highly contentious West. Sure, Lillard didn’t play in their recent pre-season game against the Warriors’ bench, but the remainder of the Trail Blazers lineup lost 131-98 and Golden State guys like Curry, Thompson, and Poole didn’t even step on the court…. not the best sign.
Golden State Warriors
- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Kevon Looney, James Wiseman, Donte DiVincenzo, Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, Andre Iguodala
The Golden State Warriors–champions once again. It was their sixth NBA Finals appearance in the past eight years and their fourth title. I guess Steph Curry really just is that good. What can ya do? Well… determined to keep all of their stars in expensive contracts, Golden State lost a good amount of free agents in the off-season, including Otto Porter Jr., Gary Payton II, and Juan Toscano-Anderson. Plus, they now have to deal with Draymond Green just punching his teammates for some reason (though this will undoubtedly blow over in a couple weeks). Still, there’s nothing to do but count these guys in once again. James Wiseman is even back in full form.
- Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma, Will Barton, Monte Morris, Rui Hachimura, Johnny Davis, Corey Kispert, Deni Avdija, Daniel Gafford, Taj Gibson, Delon Wright, Vernon Carey Jr.
Bradley Beal is so committed to Washington that he was given one of the rarest contracts in NBA history. $250 million over five years with a no-trade clause. He’s only the tenth player in the history of the NBA to receive a no-trade clause, and he’s doing it for the Wizards. He has some decent piece around him in Kyle Kuzma and Will Barton, but outside Beal these aren’t guys who consistently put up 20 points a night. Their leading center, Kristaps Porzingis, can also barely stay healthy enough to compete. I don’t know, my man, maybe a trade would be in your best interest. One of the worst places you can be in the NBA is stuck in the middle.
What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.