The 2019/2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) season begins today, 22nd October 2019 with much anticipated buzz and euphoria around it. This season promises to be an exciting one with a host of teams presenting star-studded squads in their bid to be crowned NBA champions.
There were some interesting coaching changes during the off season with the likes of Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento King all heading into the season with new faces in charge. The Cavaliers replaced Larry Drew in the off season with John Beilein. Lakers parted ways with Luke Walton who will now take charge at Sacramento Kings and appointed in Frank Vogel as the new coach whilst the Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns replaced J.B. Bickerstaff and Igor Kokoškov with Taylor Jenkins and Monty Williams respectively. Exciting trades and draft choices were also made. We take a look at some of the teams who are highly tipped to be “value for money” teams and how they have shaped up for this season ahead of the Toronto Raptors versus New Orleans Pelicans season opener at the Scotiabank Arena.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
The L.A. Clippers ended last season with 48 wins but head into the new season as one of the odds-on favourites from the Pacific Division in the Western Conference this season after bagging the 2019 NBA finals Most Valuable Player and free agent Kawhi Leonard after his departure from the 2019 NBA finals winners Toronto Raptors. The deal went through after the Clippers traded 3 players along with 5 first-round pick swaps to Oklahoma City Thunder for Paul George in order to convince Leonard to sign for the Clippers. Lawrence Frank and his staff also brought in upcoming talent, Maurice Harkless to beef up the roster. Rookie Terance Mann who was quite impressive during preseason could also be given opportunities to show his worth this season. The Clippers will host LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center and will be looking up to Kawhi Leonard to take them to the NBA championship.
Denver Nuggets head into the new season as the division leaders in the northwest division in the conference and were undoubtedly the “surprise packages” in the NBA last season with 54 wins and could once again repeat the feat they achieved last season or better still go beyond that. The major acquisition by the Nuggets was Jerami Grant from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Michael Porter Jr. returns this season after missing the whole of last season with injury and could a big impact along with star player Nikola Jokic whilst Jamal Murray extended his contract in July.
Denver Nuggets begin the season on Wednesday, 23rd October 2019 against Portland Trail Blazers.
The 76ers ended last season with 51 wins and are one of the teams tipped to advance from the Eastern conference this season and win the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2020. They arranged a sign- and-trade agreement with Miami Heat, exchanging Jimmy Butler for Josh Richardson and also recruited Al Horford to play with Joel Embiid. They also re-signed Tobias Harris and Mike Scott with the former signing a deal worth $180 million. Other new additions to the roster include Kyle O’Quinn, Trey Burke, Raul Neto and draft pick Matisse Thybulle. Ben Simmons also extended his contract for another 5 years. The 76ers will be counting on both Simmons and Embiid this season to put in impressive performances this season starting with their first game with the Boston Celtics.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
The Golden State Warriors head into the new season not as clear favourites for the NBA championship for the first time in over 4 years despite being division leaders in the pacific divisionin the western conference. They have also been tipped to struggle after Kevin Durant’s departure to the Brooklyn Nets. Last year’s beaten finalists also head into the season without the services of key veterans Andre Iguodala and Shawn Livingston in their locker room and will hoping D’Angelo Russell who was brought in as part of the Durant sign-and-trade deal with the Brooklyn Nets will help Steph Curry and a youthful locker room in the absence of Klay Thompson who is out until at least the All-Star break with an ACL injury. The Warriors begin their season against the L.A. Clippers on Thursday.
The Brooklyn Nets roster this season boasts of a star-studded locker room after the acquisitions of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan. Though they lost All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell to the Warriors, they could still prove to be a decent team. They will however start the season against Minnesota Timberwolves without Durant who is currently injured.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
LeBron James in his second season in the Lakers team will be hoping for a better season in contrast to the disappointing season his team had. He will also be looking to stay fit for the entire season as injuries hampered his performances last season. The Lakers have acquired Anthony Davis and have also re-signed Javale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso. Experienced players like Danny Green, Dwight Howard and Jared Dudley have also been recruited. They will be hoping for some LeBron magic against the Clippers on Tuesday.
The Rockets as usual are favourites for the Western Conference title this season. However, there is pressure on Coach Mike D’Antoni who is in the final year of his contract to deliver an NBA championship for the Rockets. They traded Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook and also added high profile duo Tyson Chandler and Thabo Sefoloshe. With James Harden and Westbrook in the same team this season, Houston Rockets could become a dominant force this season.
All is set for what could be one of the most memorable seasons in NBA history, NBA lovers can expect nothing but excitement and intrigue as the season unfolds.