THEY are the champions! No matter what the King and all the queens say. Everything runs through them and the best player in the world right now. Like Nikola Jokić cares about all the talk. Or anything else for that matter, aside from the wedding ring laced around his sneaker. Alongside the can-do Canuck, Jamal Murray, even a Giannis and Dame Time Bucks team-up couldn’t stop Denver.
Especially with guys like Aaron Gordon, Reggie Jackson and KCP capable of stepping-up. Losing Bruce Brown is a game-changer, but not a win column one. Mike Malone’s men have already stone-cut their way to the ‘chip. And just when you thought you had them figured out, in comes Michael Porter Jr. from the help-side.
Team USA may have come back from Manila with a bronze eye (thanks to Dillon Brooks and our site’s national side), but Anthony Edwards gave us a thriller like MJ. Jordan and Jackson. He’s lights, camera and all action like his big-screen ‘Hustle’ debut in the Adam Sandler Netflix movie. Karl-Anthony Towns may not be an uncut gem like Kevin Garnett, but he’s still a big ticket. Let’s hope we can have more punching-in from former DPOY Rudy Gobert. Then Minnie can be as steady as Mike Conley and no longer a mighty mouse in a land of lions.
Oklahoma City Thunder
During FIBA, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put the world on notice. Reminding you of how he stole the regular season show last year in the NBA. This season, he’ll become one of the league’s best. That’s enough for OKC to be a-OK right now. Then you have the happy-go-lucky Josh Giddey and the return of the big and slightly bulked-up Chet Holmgrem. Not to mention rook Cason Wallace, vet star Victor Oladipo, and Jaylin Williams and Jalen Williams, blowing up with twin Afros. The Thunder haven’t had this much reign since Durant, Harden and Westbrook.
Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard has clocked-out for the last time. That’s it. D.O.L.L.A. done. Time to move on, like any bad break-up. Igniting G-League superstar rookie Scoot Henderson will do that for you. He’s got it from here on out. Just like scorching scorer Anfernee Simons and the always reliable Jerami Grant. The Blazers hauled Deandre Ayton, Robert Williams III and Malcolm Brogdon from that blockbuster Dame trade. Portland has the pieces. It remains to be seen whether they’ll clinch a playoff berth, or be used by the next NBA trade deadline.
Is Taylor Hendricks the rookie that will make Utah forget about losing Donovan Mitchell? Many Jazz men sung this summer on the world’s FIBA stage. Jordan Clarkson for the Philippines. Canadian Kelly Olynyk. Marksmen Lauri Markkanen is back like his hair from the kind of mandatory military duty that South Korean super K-Pop group BTS know all too well about. Steadying the ship alongside former Hawk John Collins for when the tenacious talents of Colin Sexton and Talen Horton-Tucker get streaky.
Golden State Warriors
Don’t sleep on a champion just one season removed. Steph Curry still has that night, night. And Steve Kerr’s big-three of Klay Thompson, his Splash Brother and defensive dog Draymond Green are still here. To this day. One of the best Holy Trinity’s the Basketball God’s have ever graced us with. They just added another legend in CP3 too. Even if they had to lose Jordan Poole in the process.
At least they got Gary Payton II back. Adding Canada’s Cory Joseph and valuable veteran Rudy Gay to the Jonathan Kuminga, Kevon Looney and Moses Moody mix. Holding Andrew Wiggins as the x-factor, the Warriors have more than just a little fight still in them. They can K.O. any opponent. With a new WNBA team on deck too, the future of Bay Area basketball is ready for the mountaintop, like driving the San Francisco hills in this Golden State.
Russell Westbrook may have to buy one more iPhone for the squad. The generous soul’s former Rocket and Thunder brother James Harden may be coming over. Would Russ be involved in a package-deal? That would seem a shame after Westbrook’s LA rejuvenation revenge after his unfair treatment from Lakerland fans. That scream to the heavens from the paint is one of the best photographs captured from last season.
Ty Lue’s Clips don’t want to disturb and mess up the mix either. Despite injuries, with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George they have two similar stars who play perfectly on both ends of the floor. Somewhere between Boston’s Brown and Tatum and the legendary Jordan and Pippen. Bones Hyland, Kenyon Martin Jr., Marcus Morris Sr., Terance Mann, Robert Covington, Norm Powell, Nicolas Batum and Ivica Zubac. Los Angeles belongs to the Clippers now. Yet it seems to have taken even longer for them to contend than it did to leave the laughingstock of the league’s basement.
Year 21, and LeBron’s not done. Now if AD stays healthy, maybe an MVP or DPOY will be on the way like he was A’ja Wilson in the W. After dethroning Golden State, the Lake Show is trying to mine more than the Denver team that defeated them. They re-upped with Rui, Reaves, Russell and The Worm like Jarred Vanderbilt (The Vandolorian). Then they added Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, Taurean Prince, and bigs Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood. Sophomore Max Christie is set to soar and Jalen Hood-Schifino is a serious draft choice. Like the rook’s family motto, for Ham’s men, “failure is not an option”.
CP3 and Deandre Ayton may have departed the big-three in Arizona, but when it comes to Booker in downtown Phoenix, book-it for a big bucket. Besides, there’s a whole new big-three on the rise with Kevin Durant and the summer smash of Bradley Beal. As well, KD has even brought his Brooklyn boy, Yuta ‘The Shooter’ Watanabe along for the ride. Making their Pacific rivalry with the Lakers and fellow Japanese sharp-shooter Rui Hachimura that much more interesting. Jusuf Nurkic, Eric Gordon, Damion Lee and Bol Bol add more spike to the cactus.
Last year, the beam of the Sacramento Kings was so bright it almost scorched the retinas of the dead-eye Golden State Warriors. This season, expect it to still shine. People will be gunning for their Californian throne now, but the dominating Domantas Sabonis, De’Aron Fox and Malik Monk know how to ring it up like the cowbells used to. Add veteran Harrison Barnes out for mavericks, and this is Sacto’s best crowning achievement since Vlade, C-Webb, Peja, Doug Christie and Mike Bibby.
Can Luka and Kyrie co-exist? If they can, the rest of the league is in trouble. If they can’t, send help. Seth Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s family ties have that on the wing. Whilst Grant Williams and Markieff Morris keep that same energy on the inside. Mark Cuban deserves to smoke another cigar for all he’s done for the Texan team, but these aren’t the Dirk days. Chemistry is everything. If this all blows up, then beef like Jason Kidd, Jimmy Jackson and Jamal Mashburn squabbling over Toni Braxton will breathe again.
Houston just made Dillon Brooks a very, very rich man. You got a problem with that? If you do, look no further than the silver lining he gave Canada in this off-season’s World Cup. The Olympics in Paris is in trouble like Memphis for giving up on him. Busting ‘Bron’s balls is the kind of hard-nosed jawing we saw in the golden era 1990s. Now he, former Raptor Fred VanVleet, champion Jeff Green and fourth rook Amen Thompson won’t leave you praying for better days. They’re already on the way.
See above. Memphis spat grit out of their mouth when they informed the bark of Dillon Brooks that his time was up. That bites. So does the loss of Tyus Jones. They can still grind with Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. But one of those players is suspended, and the other injured. Steven Adams leads a veteran mix that features new additions Derrick Rose and Marcus Smart in the big backcourt. But it still feels like they have a lost a little something extra.
New Orleans Pelicans
When the Ja Morant controversy hit, Zion Williams was just glad for the attention coming off his, “I know what (or who) you did last summer”. Big Zion should leave it all on the floor and exceed expectations with high-volume scorer Brandon Ingram and culture changer CJ McCollum. The confidence of Jose Alvarado, the bruising of Jonas Valanciunas and the dunks of Larry Nance Jr. add more spring to the Pelicans step. Time to fly!
San Antonio Spurs
The Iceman. The Admiral. Timmy, Tony and Manu. The Klaw. Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich’s franchise used to be so much more. And they will be again, because he’s not done like the legendary Ahmad Rashad, coming in too early for his speech. Victor Wembanyama. Need we say any more? Pop just found his cheat code. Shake that up with the spray can, Rodman throwback of sophomore Jeremy Sochan and just watch these Spurs soar. This clique clicks over hair-dye hi-jinks.