The 2018-2019 Season was historic for the National Basketball Association, as a team
from outside of the United States won the NBA Championship for the first time: the Toronto
Led by all-star Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors took down the star-studded Golden State
Warriors in six games. Despite being crowned NBA Champions, many NBA fans agree that although the Raptors were undoubtedly a strong team, they had an easier road to success than the other top teams.
“The Raptors championship was fluky… they squeaked past a very mediocre Eastern
Conference and never had to face the two best players in the league — Lebron James and Kevin
Durant — as every other team in the last decade has,” said junior and Atlanta Hawks fan Dempsey Block.
In Game 6, the game in which the Raptors accomplished this historic feat, both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were hurt. The Raptors also barely were able to get by the Philadelphia 76ers, winning the final game on a rim-rattling buzzer beater by Leonard.
Looking forward, there is now massive amounts of hope for fans all over the NBA.
Drastic changes have been made to most every team in terms of personnel since Game 6
between the Raptors and Warriors.
“A ton has changed since last season… This year’s draft class is exceptionally strong and a ton has happened over this past offseason,” said junior Nick O’Reilly, an avid fan of the
This draft class is highlighted by talents such as the New Orleans’ Zion
Williamson, Memphis’ Ja Morant, and New York’s RJ Barret, among others.
“Obviously Zion will make a huge impact… This may be controversial but I think Ja
Morant has bust potential, I feel like he may be a bit overhyped,” said Block. “As for others with
high expectations, I would expect a guy like Chicago’s Coby White out of the University of North Carolina to surprise some people this year.”
Not only have teams gained talent in the form of rookies, but there has also been a lot
of movement of veterans and all-stars. The most notable transactions this offseason include Anthony Davis joining forces with Lebron James on the Los Angeles Lakers, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George teaming up with the Los Angeles Clippers, Russell Westbrook reuniting with James Harden on the Houston Rockets, and lastly, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signing with the Brooklyn Nets. However, Kevin Durant will miss the entire 2019-2020 season because of an Achilles injury he suffered during the 2019 Finals.
With all of these changes, doors have opened up for many teams to win a title this year,
with specifically high hopes for the teams listed above.
“I have to go with my favorite team the Phoenix Suns to win it all this year,” said
O’Reilly. “They have a great young core with guys such as Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Kelly Oubre, along with rookies Ty Jerome and Cam Johnson and I think they can achieve a 50-win season.”
O’Reilly also added that he could see the Milwaukee Bucks
being a strong contender again in the Eastern Conference led by “The Greek Freak”, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Others, like Block, think that Lebron James will return to the finals after a one-year hiatus, as Anthony Davis will push the Los Angeles team to an elite level.
“I’ve got the Lakers no doubt… Lebron is pretty much unstoppable and now you put him
alongside Anthony Davis and a solid supporting cast? It will be too much for the NBA to handle,” said Block.
Other teams that have been prevailing favorites along with the Bucks and the Lakers are
the Los Angeles Clippers. Coached by NBA legend Doc Rivers, the Clippers have picked up reigning NBA champion, two-time finals MVP, and three-time NBA All-Star Kawhi Leonard, as well as 2019 league MVP Finalist and six-time NBA All-Star Paul George. Competing for the top spot in the Western Conference, this team will be a force to be reckoned with.
Another team that has varying expectations is the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans
lost their franchise star Anthony Davis in a trade with the Lakers for several younger players including Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram. The Pelicans also had a particularly strong draft, picking Duke’s Zion Williamson first overall, as well as acquiring a team-needed center in Texas’ Jaxson Hayes through a three-way trade between the Pelicans, Hawks, and Lakers.
As of now, there are a lot of questions about how the season will play out, and it is a
toss-up for who will come out on top. There will certainly be guaranteed surprises as well as guaranteed busts and disappointments.
The regular season tip-off will begin on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 with matchups
between the Toronto Raptors against the New Orleans Pelicans, as well as the Los Angeles Lakers against the Los Angeles Clippers. The hometown Atlanta Hawks hope to rebound after a disappointing 2018-19 season, beginning their season on the 24th of October where they will face off against the Detroit Pistons at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.