NBA Preview (Collage by Francisco Palacios)
NBA Preview

Collage by Francisco Palacios

Palacios predicts the 2019-2020 NBA season winners

October 31, 2019

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The 2019-2020 NBA season has just started, and it’s already shaping up to be a dramatic and exciting year for its fans. During the offseason, teams and players have made decisions that are changing the organizations from a rebuilding era to a championship contender team era. Rookies and stars are warming up for the long season to come.

A “rebuild team,”  in terms of NBA basketball, is a team that is trying to restart and looks towards the future of their franchise. Fans now look down upon these teams as they are not fun to watch. They are giving up before the contest begins.

For example, the Oklahoma City Thunder had all-stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George and now have traded away both of their stars for future draft picks and young prospects like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Clippers, who were a rebuilding team, are now my favorite to win the NBA Finals in June 2020.

The Clippers finished eighth in the Western standings and made the playoffs with a team that should have been out of the conversation. During the off-season, Kawhi Leonard, who just miraculously won the NBA Finals with the Toronto Raptors, is now going to LA with another fabulous All-Star in Paul George who just came off an MVP-caliber season with the OKC Thunder. 

This off-season, the Warriors who were the NBA’s super-villains after Kevin Durant signed with them in 2016, are now the underdogs in the Western conference and some might say that they won’t even make the playoffs after losing Kevin Durant in free agency and Andre Iguodala to a trade to the Memphis Grizzlies. Durant’s decision shocked the NBA when he signed a four-year, $160 million deal with the new upcoming Brooklyn Nets. They just became championship contenders from signing Durant and Kyrie Irving from the Boston Celtics.

In today’s NBA, a team with no hope at all can change into a contender just from a couple moves.

This year’s draft was also very important to the NBA, with the new star in Zion Williamson picked #1 Overall in the draft. Williamson is the most exciting prospect since the 2003 draft with Lebron James also being picked #1 Overall. Williamson is expected of big things and he has to exceed them or else he would be majorly criticized. The expectations for the 285-pound beast are to win Rookie of the Year and to also lead the New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs. RJ Barrett, the other major star in the NBA draft coming out of Duke with Williamson was picked 3rd Overall in the NBA draft to the New York Knicks. The New York Knicks are another team in the rebuilding phase and since they are located in the Big Apple, it comes with big expectations. During the NBA summer league, RJ Barrett did not perform and many people were overwhelming the NBA world with “Bust” terms for Rj, but in the pre-season, he has performed much better averaging 15 points per game and starting in the Knicks lineup. 

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Western Conference Preview

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Standings-

#1. Clippers- With the new acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers will win the Western Conference and will be the best team in the NBA.

#2. Nuggets- The Nuggets have always been a good consistent team and through all 82 games. They have a good depth which will allow them to not be reduced talent-wise from injuries. They also have a new upcoming rookie in Michael Porter Jr who will help them tremendously.

#3. Jazz- Just like the Nuggets, the Jazz will also be a very consistent team, and, now, from signing an all-star point guard in Mike Conley, they will have many scoring options with Conley and Donovan Mitchell. They will also be a very good defensive team with a 2-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert locking up the paint.

#4. Lakers- Although the Lakers have signed MVP candidate Anthony Davis in the off-season, and also they are rebuilding their whole team with role players like sharpshooters Danny Green and Quinn Cook. They will also be dealt with injuries. I don’t think Lebron and Davis will be able to sustain there talent in all 82 games of the season, and will be dealt with injuries and team management.

#5. Rockets- Rockets also added a major asset in former MVP and triple-double legend Russel Westbrook but gave away All-Star veteran Chris Paul. James Harden is the face of the franchise but if an injury or time management occurs then the Rocket’s depth won’t be able to balance the talent to keep the Rockets at the top of the Western conference.

#6. Trailblazers- The Trailblazers did not necessarily change in players, other than adding anchor center Hassan Whiteside former Miami Heat player, so they will have to be consistent in all their games. All-Star Damian Lillard will have to have an MVP caliber season for the Trailblazers to be successful.

#7. Warriors- The Warriors now are the underdogs of the NBA. After losing Klay Thompson to a miserable ACL  injury in the NBA finals and Kevin Durant to free agency, they are left with Steph Curry and Draymond Green to lead the way until Thomson comes back. Luckily, the Warriors got upcoming young star D’Angelo Russell from the Brooklyn Nets and he and Curry will be a fabulous duo for the big portion of the season. If all stay healthy and Thomson comes back even better, there’s no room to say they won’t be able to accomplish an amazing season just like they did in the 2015-2016 NBA season where they set an NBA record 73-9 season. This is possible, but many pieces need to come together. Curry will also need to play like an MVP and lead the league in scoring for this to be possible and to compensate for the scoring loss of Klay Thompson.

#8. Spurs- The Spurs are always a fundamental consistent team in the hard Western conference only not making the playoffs 4 times throughout the whole Spurs franchise. With Dejounte Murray coming back from an ACL injury and being the youngest player to make all first-team defensive team, the Spurs will yet again be one of the best teams defensively which they will need to do since they don’t have as much raw talent as other super teams do.

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Eastern Conference Preview

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Standings-

#1. 76ers- After giving up Jimmy Butler in a trade with the Miami Heat, they gained future All-Star in Josh Richardson, an athletic shooter who will be able to play on both ends on the floor. Teams to win the conference have to have consistency and stay healthy so Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will have to play great and stay healthy throughout the whole 82 game season.

#2.  Bucks- Former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will lead the Bucks to the 2nd seed in the East but will need a lot of help from his teammates. If he were to get hurt, teammates like Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez will have to step up but I don’t think they will be able to keep up the winning percentages as if they were all healthy. Khris Middleton’s former all-star will also have to step up and average at least 18 points to help the Bucks put the ball in the basket.

#3. Celtics- Losing Kyrie Irving is never a good thing, but when you gain an all star-like Kemba Walker it makes up for most of it. The Celtics have been known for being very young these past 3 seasons, drafting Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Carson Edwards. In 2017 when they played the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals, these young players stood out and shined when All-Star Irving was taken out injured throughout the playoffs. The opportunity for these young players to stand out while the star players were injured help them develop and was a blessing in disguise for these cookies. During the season these players will be able to shine but the lack of veterans and leadership will be the reason why they won’t be as consistent as other teams higher-seeded even though they have similar talent levels.

#4. Nets- This off-season, the Brooklyn Nets acquired all-star Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Even though Durant is injured for this whole season, the fabulous season they had in 2018 with a poor team will only skyrocket from now getting Irving and Durant. These 2 MVP caliber players will help the Nets tremendously in getting a good seed for playoffs and for years to come.

#5. Raptors- Even though the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Championship, losing Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard is never a good thing. Raptors have done good in giving extensions to Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Kyle Lowry, but pure scoring power will lack. Raptors will be a good consistent mid-table team with coach Nick Nurse who just finished coaching the Canadian National Basketball Team.

#6. Pistons- Keeping Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond in the off-season was a big plus to the Piston’s future. Now all they need is to acquire an all-star caliber point guard to play the pick and roll game with the great big men they have. Derrick Rose, newly acquired sixth man will suit this role as a point guard but won’t be enough for the Pistons to obtain a high seed for playoffs. There tenacity and aggressiveness on defense will help them majorly and will keep them somewhat successful throughout the season.

#7. Heat- Jimmy Butler joining the Heat is a big plus for them but they will need many more pieces to be successful during the season and playoffs. Rookie Tyler Herro is performing like a ROTY candidate in the preseason but the Heat will need much more than that. The Heat will be a team that pulls put up a fight in every game through effort and tenaciousness but their talent level lacks compared to the teams above.

#8. Pacers- As of now, Victor Oladipo is hurt with a torn ACL and is working back from recovery from last season. Without the Pure Talent of Oladipo, the Indiana Pacers will be missing out on scoring possibilities and will have to rely on fundamentals and effort from players trying to gain a spot in this league.

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