Call it a bad shot all you like Paul, but by George Dame D.O.L.L.A was right on the money with his Thunder clap. R.I.P. OKC. And out in the blooming lovely Rose City of Oregon, the only noise coming out of Portland and their blazing trail of a back-court this summer offseason is the new side hustle rap album from Damian Lillard. Hitting big hits from all over the floor. And that’s just how the Spurs of the Northwest want it in this Wild West. C.J. McCollum and Dame are right on time to shake up your brackets and belief again. And now they have guys like Rodney Hood, Kent Bazemore, Hassan Whiteside and the Spanish legacy of legend Pau Gasol to fill in whilst waiting for the return of the Mt. Hood man mountain of Jusuf Nurkic. It’s going to be a hot one. This year blazing in the flame hair, bandana throwing Bill Walton era jerseys.
Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker may be coming out in theaters this October but why so serious? The real Joker Nikola Jokic is playing all season long. Or he isn’t playing with you, whichever way you want to look at it. And with vet Paul Millsap and the late, great Manute’s mountain of a son Bol Bol by his side that front-line is more imposing than those relatives that take two hours to say goodbye after a quick “just stopping by” visit. But it’s Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. who are mining and running the future of this franchise off the break. The air is clear in Nevada now and the Nuggets are going for gold. Mile high is the limit in this city.
Things looked mighty cold out in Minny when the Butler left for more steak in Philly. But look what he did to the Sixers in the process. Still they still have man mountain Karl Anthony-Towns, their next generation Kevin Garnett and Canadian dry gunner Andrew Wiggins. Once someone they gave up a lot of Love for. Worth it? You decide for yourself this young teams still got a long window to mature, but let’s not leave it open for too long out in this Midwest cold. They may just be go unnoticed, left to freeze to death. At least those purple Prince uniforms still reign.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Cue the John Travolta in Pulp Fiction GIF. Last year it looked so all good that the OK3 could even afford to lose a legend like Carmelo Anthony before the whole league scapegoated him like he wasn’t one of our generations greatest (RESPECT DUE). Well now they’ve lost more marquee players than when they did James Harden and Kevin Durant. Why not? First Paul George did end up going to LA in the end after all…but with the Kawhi Clippers and not the LeBron Lakers. And then even Russell Westbrook bounced like he does above the rim for a Rocket reunion with James Harden. And all the OKC former OK3 got in return was CP3. WoW! And Chris Paul may end up getting brought out like decorations for Christmas by the fall season like overeager shop fronts anyway. At least they still have Aquaman Steven Adams to trident take them out these deep waters of thunder.
Far from home Spider-Man may be out the MCU so now it’s on Donovan Mitchell’s homecoming in Salt Lake City. The best spida since big John Salley, Donovan is one of the best young stars in the world running like Bailey. And with the Stifel Tower of Frenchmen Rudy Gobert by his side gobbling up dunks he has someone looking out for him 3000 like Iron Man. Add the grit-n-grind notes of Mike Conley Jr., young, big talent like Dante Exum and Ed Davis and proven big time contributers like veteran Jeff Green and young stud Emmanuel Mudiay and the Jazz sound pretty Larry David good this year. You’re going to like the way they play…and play on too. And I don’t see no fat lady.
San Francisco Warriors
The Golden State Warriors may have lost the championship AND Kevin Durant, but in NBA terms that was a long time ago. They’re not the Golden State Warriors anymore. Moving back across that Golden Gate Bridge to Silicon Valley they’re the San Francisco Warriors now as the McDonalds All American like Curry jerseys that have one up on the European NBA Store site tell us. And in a new city and new day off the California Coast it’s a new generation for the former Oakland raiding dynasty. One that sees the Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (who did come back like Draymond Green) joined by a triplet in D’Angelo Russell backing them up. The former Brooklyn boy who makes nets all water looks for more Cali revenge over the Lakers that let him go. Add the frontline young force of Willie Cauley-Stein from Sacramento to this California club and the skyline of San Fran really does look different. Take a Cable Car up these ‘Bullitt’ famous sloping streets and see for yourself.
Think it’s all dry in the desert then book a ticket to see the Devin Booker show. Remember the seventies? I’m talking about how many he hit years back not the decade for the kid who wasn’t even born back then. We’ll save our Phoenix metaphors for the rise of these Suns, but this dark Phoenix really is a deal horse like those old Pistons Grant Hill era logos. Remember when that player played with Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire? Those where the run and gun days. But now there could be some big STAT’s with the new big cactus in DeAndre Ayton ready to sophomore soar. Add Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Aaron Baynes to the mix and this Sun spot could burn baby burn. Hope you listened to Bad Luhrmann when he told you to always wear sunscreen.
These Kings may be a long way from the California crown, but it still hasn’t slipped all the way yet. Underrated star Harrison Barnes and the most valuable vet Trevor Ariza leads a young core missing new Warrior Cauley-Stein, but one that can still go to cowbell battle. Fresh out the Hall of Fame legend Vlade Divac has assembled quite the team of potential H.O.F candidates. Guys like DeAaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III. Now that’s a young big-three. They may not be true three Kings yet. But when it comes to the colour purple there’s nothing wrong with a couple of prince’s.
Los Angeles Clippers
When the L.A. Lakers traded for Ant Davis next year’s NBA season looked over, let alone the battle for Los Angeles. Especially with who they thought was coming too. But in the Linkin Park end it didn’t really matter as Kawhi Leonard ended up in Los Angeles…but with the cross-court Clippers instead. And if you thought that was bad Lake Show then Paul George of all people finally came to Hollywood too…but for you know who. Now if that wasn’t enough too, about three former disgruntled Lakers playing big in reserve too? From big man Ivica Zubac and defensive dog Patrick Beverly to the 6 Man G.O.A.T. Lou Will. Now the Clips look to emancipate themselves from the shadow of the bright lights and banners of the Lakers STAPLE too by moving into their own place and state of the art stadium by 2020. Looks like they’re going out on their own now and who better to lead them than the one Finals Most Valuable Player who Canada knows can change everything in a bucket. Ain’t that right Philly?
Los Angeles Lakers
Dwight Howard…Dwight Howard! What is that hair?! Is he dating a Kardashian?! Nah…you know what? I’m done making jokes. You have to respect the redemption. I’ve been wrong when I’ve said this before (like when I used caffeine shampoo), but I think this is going to work. For all the big moves made out in the La La LeBron City of Angels this Summer, the nobody in the world would have believed you weeks ago Dwight Howard/Lakers reunion has made the most waves out in Hollywood (soft…soft). And this is a team that just finally traded for Anthony Davis. To give LeBron and the Lakers the most dynamic duo since Shaq and Kobe…not Dwight Howard and Kobe. But in doing so they had to give them the whole house of hoops. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, (please no, not) Josh Hart and all those future draft picks that could turn into players like that or all they’ve lost with the likes of Russell, Randle, Clarkson, Nance Jr. and Zubac. And Anthony is as afraid of commitment next year as young men in their twenties right about now. But at least they kept Kuzma, KCP…and Caruso. And in keeping Rondo and McGee too, maybe adding another meme in another Anthony in ‘Melo and adding Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, Antetokounmpo (his brother…settle down) and DeMarcus Cousins (before he got injured), the Lake Show’s time is now. But will it be a Hollywood ending for the King? Or will you have to watch ‘Space Jam 2’ for that. It’s going to be a monstar season, but this could be all folks.
Turns out Houston did have a problem. Turns out James Harden and Chris Paul likes each other about as much as Harden’s beard and a straight razor. So CP3 was traded to OKC for a thunderous reunion with Russell Westbrook set to explode like barbershop trash bags if they ever do get James’ chin in the chair. But with this dynamite duo, Sixth God Eric Gordon, big Nenê, sneaker king, P.J. Tucker and blocking X-factor Clint Capela, the Rockets are about to soar. Add Kenneth Faried, Gerald Green, Austin Rivers, Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler to their preseason flight to the Far East and you could take this team even higher than the Tokyo Skytree. Because the former Yao Ming team is about to be big in Japan too for a preseason exhibition against the Toronto champion Raptors. Now let’s just hope their season isn’t lost in translation Bill.
Dirk may be gone as the big 3 in this Texan big-three, but Luka Doncic isn’t just the future of this team, state and Wild West. He’s also the future of the league and the whole wide world of hoops. And he’s just hit the weight room too like a photoshopped Alex Caruso. Get that “random” drugs test sent Commish. Add the power of Porzingis to this Maverick mix too and you probably have not only the greatest Euro one/two punch, but one of the best in the association. Even if their best European big-three of all-time lasted for only half a season after the All Star break. But let’s not forget about ‘John Wick Chapter 3’ Jaws like villain Boban Marjanovic either on a team that still has hot Curry even if it isn’t Dell or Steph. This dynamic duo has the potential to last all the way to the hall. Deck them out in Dallas now.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs may have lost Kawhi Leonard. But come on that was a season and a Canadian championship for the Toronto Raptors (we have to get that in there as much as naturally as possible). But they’ve still got Pop and nothings better like the social media shared video of the FIBA Team USA coach playing ‘Heads Up’ with an iPhone with his team at dinner. Heads up this team still have DeMar DeRozan too. And LaMarcus Aldridge. AND Rudy Gay. And if we’re talking FIBA let’s not forget Aussie ruler Patty Mills lowering the boom. We also have no idea of the potential of Derrick White and Lonnie Walker too…and that’s a beautiful thing. They may not have Manu or TP3 anymore, but big Tim Duncan is back as an assistant. What more could you ask for?
New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis is gone. That’s all folks. But in return the Pels got proven point Lonzo Ball, score at will slasher like Durant with Sprewell hair, Brandon Ingram and the best young role player there is in Josh Hart, plus more blowing through the draft than leaves in Autumn. Now that’s a haul folks. And that comes with the likes of J.J. Reddick, Jahlil Okafor, Derrick and Jrue Holiday still on board too. Playoffs for the Pelicans? That’s a yes for the N.O. and then some. And then there’s some kid named Zion.
The Grit N Grind era is officially gravel drive done for the night now Mike Conley Jr. will be playing Jazz music. Put the Marc Gasol, Tony Allen and Rudy Gay past in the rafters it’s Ja Morant’s time to rule now. And they still have the Sixth Man Finals MVP of former Warrior champion Andre Igudola…for now. And for all those going on about first Japanese top ten pick Rui Hachimara this Summer out in DC before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo how about the Hustle of his FIBA national team teammate Yuta Watanabe? Still capable of being big in the NBA like he is in Japan. The Grizz are also bringing out the old Vancouver, Canada jerseys this year like Mike Bibby and Shareef Abdur-Raheem. But that’s not the only thing that’s going to bear fruit this 82.