Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry with his history book iconic shot has proved that at will he can score from anywhere and put up video game numbers without anybody. Last year the MVP candidate almost made it past the King in the play-in for the playoffs. This year his Splash Brother, Klay Thompson is back with the headband looking like something out of the ‘Semi-Pro’ ABA 70’s. It’s about to be that time again in San Francisco. Returning to their Golden State of hoops status with defensive Draymond Green bringing back the gold standard big-three. One that will keep them circling dynasty status in the Pacific like Duncan, Ginobili and Parker use to do in San Antonio.
Even sixth man Andre Iguodola is back just like old times. Langston Galloway, Avery Bradley and Gary Payton II keep the range of Golden State, Golden Gate wide and that’s before we crossover to the youth of Damion Lee, James Wiseman and Kevon Looney. Or first round picks Jonathan Kuminga (selected seventh) and Moses Moody (chosen seven spots later at 14). At this point with all this the Warriors can wait on things to be safe again before they bring Canadian Andrew Wiggins back to The Bay.
Los Angeles Clippers
Welcome to Inglewood. The South Bay region of LA is about to house an NBA team again for the first time since the Forum of Laker legends before the new millennium. I’m in to how the new Intuit Dome looks, even if Kawhi Leonard and Paul George weren’t when it came to the music that set off this new arenas opening. All for another hilarious Kawhi meme like his classic cameo in Drake’s ‘Way 2 Sexy’ video. The dome is the 2024 future. Until then this duo will battle another one in LA for the Staples crown.
The Clips have lost a lot over the years. Like the ‘Roc La Familia’ SLAM cover of last years mob big-three Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams and now Patrick Beverly that channeled Elton Brand, Lamar Odom and Darius Miles. Like them or Blake Griffin and CP3 after, the Clippers have always been almosts. But with Nicholas Batum, Serge Ibaka, Ivica Zubac, the Morris twin still in LA, a most improved Reggie Jackson and now Justise Winslow and Eric Bledsoe they’re as determined to stick around contention as they are to claim their own home.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Bubble may have burst in Hollywood for the Disney World champs, but you know what the Los Angeles Lakers did this summer whilst LeBron was recruiting ‘Space Jam’ legends like Lola and Bugs Bunny for his new legacy. The Lake Show reunited with a year removed Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, plus old friends Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington and Trevor Ariza (oh, the memories). Vogel’s crew also bolstered their bench with names like Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn and a re-signed THT. Although they did lose KCP, Kuz, Montrezl Harrell, the GOAT Alex Caruso and the one and only Jared Dudley.
That still sounds like enough in the moat to guard King James’ castle and an injury prone but prolific Anthony Davis right? Wait! We almost forgot. They added superstar Russell Westbrook and Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony (at last) too. Rob’s still not done with one buyout roster spot open. They even got Jordan (DeAndre). Sure this team is older than spice, but wait until they season the rest of the league this 82. With the former 23 changing his number to carry the 6 expect the new nicknamed big-three to do a 360 on the rest of the league.
The scorching Suns salsa danced LeBron’s Lakers out the playoffs last season like Jae Crowder. Dethroning the King’s champs. That’s all you need to know. I had them going all the way, but then the Bucks stopped all that. “Damn”, one of the most offensive players in the game Devin Booker said as he watched Giannis and his freaks get their party on. Commiseration amongst all that celebration, you know his Mamba Mentality won’t forget that moment.
This year with a re-upped Chris Paul still the purest prototype of a point in this game and throwback center Deandre Ayton in a small ball world, expect big-things. Young stud Elfrid Payton and JaVale McGee with championship and Olympic gold pedigree now joins the Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Payne core. Backing down from no one this could be the year Phoenix rises like Mercury with their GOAT’s like Taurasi.
In the King’s division, Sacramento just watched one of their greatest Chris Webber enter the Hall of Fame this September. I guess it really has been a long time. Now as the odd one out in the Pacific, the team who kept their window open for the first decade of the new millennium needs to roar back in the 20’s with a new identity. Could ninth pick Davion Mitchell be that out the gate?
Until then it’s on former All-star Harrison Barnes in his Rudy Gay years, new big pick-up Tristan Thompson, the potential of De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III and everyone’s friend Buddy Hield, who is still here despite rife rumors of trade. Legend Vlade Divac’s team is as young as he was when he joined a dying Showtime in California. He knows all about starting again. Or the raw potential of late top ten draft picks. After all back in the day, he was traded for one.
Just because the team with last years real MVP was bounced early from the playoffs doesn’t mean Nikola Jokic and his Denver Nuggets are a joke. Just wait until they get Canadian Jamal Murray back in from the cold of injury. This duo with a most improved Michael Porter Jr. becoming the potential player he was always meant to be gives this team a big-three and their most exciting times since they drafted Carmelo.
Anthony is now with his best friend for a team these gold Nuggets tested in the Bubble when Murray went off like milk left out of the fridge. Don’t skim over the Nugs chances now they’ve added the air of Aaron Gordon and valuable vet Jeff Green to their Bol Bol big name bench. With Austin Rivers in reserve Denver’s stream runs deep. Stonecutting their way to the chip.
There’s still excitement about the best friend budding up of Karl-Anthony Towns and the icy veins of D’Angelo Russell. But is the team theirs or last years first pick in the draft Anthony Edwards? Can they big-three co-exist? And is adding defensive dog Pat Bev akin to throwing a grenade in the mix?
Minny have more questions than your friends kid when you come over for coffee, but best believe they have more future than Drake songs. If they find their own identity then they will be able to rise amongst the west’s best. But they need patience and a lot more time for the rest to come together. If they want to be as successful as their Lynx in the W, then ‘sota have to look at the bigger picture.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook has been on three teams since he left OKC two years ago. It’s time to put those big-three KD and James Harden memories to bed. Why? Because they’re not it when it comes to the Thunder’s forecast. Underrated but on the rise star, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is. Soon the rest of the league will know. And after drafting Josh Giddey sixth, Oklahoma City are happy.
We will have to wait awhile before this crew goes from the basement to playoff placement. But if SGA stays the course he’ll be the most loved Thunder since Westbrook. And why the hell not? Welcome to Shai city!
Portland Trail Blazers
North by northwest, Damian Lillard rules his division, but it’s time Dame had better. He deserves as such. His backcourt with CJ McCollum is still the best in the association outside a Golden State and now he has one of the best ever to do it in champion Chauncey Billups as coach. Adding the above the rim game of Larry Nance Jr. and former lottery pick Ben McLemore from downtown will be bigger than you think like a healthy Jusuf Nurkic.
As these complimentary pieces fit into a puzzle that will have everyone singing the praises for one of the league’s once overlooked more complete teams. Norman Powell, Anfernee Simons, Cody Zeller, they all stem back to that idea coming up in the City of Roses. Now with Dame DOLLA sticking around (for now), it’s time for all of this to bloom. It’s not RIP in Rip City yet.
How does the best record in the league sound? Sadly for the Jazz last season, not like NBA champions. But it’s all good in Utah. Especially with their most dynamic duo since the pick and roll delivery of John Stockton and The Mailman, Karl Malone. Spida, Donovan Mitchell and the Stiffel Tower of Rudy Gobert are blocking and webbing up opponents and stand as a monument in this city after the salt in the wounds of their COVID fallout.
Add Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson being a walking bucket, and Mike Conley becoming the All-star he always deserved to be and it’s no longer dry in the desert. Hassan Whiteside, Joe Ingles, Rudy Gay and them. Its time to make music.
2018 Rookie of the Year Luka Dončić almost became MVP in year three. Going fourth this Maverick is one of the best in not only the West, but the rest of the league too. Give him a healthy Kristaps Porzingis trying to rediscover that crisp Knick form and Dallas could have what they could only dream of with the one season they had both Dirk and Dončić on the floor.
Tim Hardaway Jr, Jalen Brunson, Willie Cauley-Stein, Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown headline a sterling supporting cast. But when it all comes down to it, it all rests on the greatest guard out of Europe since the late, great Drazen Petrovic. Look out for Luka to make his story with his own storybook historic career for this global game. This one Mark, is for all the Cuban’s. Get ready to light a victory cigar. Even if you have to wait a few years before you can smoke it.
Before the start of last season the Houston Rockets had the best backcourt of an OKC reunion with James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Now the pair have broken-up again and will battle it out for the crown on their respective Brooklyn Net and Los Angeles Laker superteams. John Wall who returned from almost career ending injury and was traded by Washington for Russ has still got it.
As have sixth man Eric Gordon, G-league success story David Nwaba and the rim wrecking son, Kenyon Martin Jr., but after Cosmic City was grounded, the Rockets look to Jalen Green as their new pilot to take them out of this world and into a star stratosphere. Number two in this years draft could keep Houston in some sort of postseason contention orbit. But when it comes to these rocky Rockets, second place always feels like the first loser.
Don’t poke the bear. The Grit N Grind era of the Grizzlies may have been left behind, but the new Ja Morant one rules. When you have him soaring above the rim like a bears claw as he slashes through the defense, what else do you need? How about a big vet like Steven Adams backing him up down low? There’s no one more reliable.
The Grizz are Tyus Jones as a veteran young and full of potential. Already ahead of schedule. And now thanks to a draft day trade with the Pels they now have a top ten draft pick to run with Ja. Number ten, Ziaire Williams to be exact. Ja and Ziaire, this sounds like something of biblical proportions, blessed to us by the basketball Gods.
New Orleans Pelicans
Now sure the New Orleans Pelicans traded their top tenth pick in the draft to our previous previewed team with Steven Adams, but no worries mate. Even without a retired J.J. Reddick, or a Chicago bound Lonzo Ball no longer manning the point N.O are more than alright and built for right now. It’s all about Mount Zion and how far to the top he can take Crescent City with a new season on the horizon.
Especially with Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram gunning the lights out. In major moves this Summer they acquired Devonte’ Graham, Garrett Temple and big Jonas Valanciunas to join their elite level role players like Josh Hart. The closest thing to a legendary supporting Laker player like Rick Fox, brought in with the Pelicans haul for Anthony Davis. But the beating heart of this team is Williamson. Already on household first name terms like LeBron.
San Antonio Spurs
Rookie Joshua Primo could be the primo talent that has the Spurs clicking again. You don’t have to watch a wonderful Tony Parker documentary (‘The Final Shot’) on Netflix, or see a dread locked Tim Duncan letting it all out at the Hall Of Fame to see those good ole days are gone. One day Coach Pop will call it a Hall of Fame career too and hand the sidelines over to Becky Hammon for NBA HERstory from the WNBA legend. Until then these Spurs are on rebuild mode. But oh what the leader of Team USA can do with all those young pieces like Lonnie Walker IV, Tre Jones, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Zach Collins and Doug McDermott.
Veteran Thaddeus Young is probably the most recognizable name to those who have been quarantined from the league the last few seasons. And there was a time that all seems like yesterday when the 33 year-old was literally the young star with a bright future ahead of him. Now he’ll be tasked to light the way for these future San Antonio stars in the locker room. He may not be as young as his team too, but the great leader Greg Popovich can still get it popping.