The months of waiting for NBA basketball to return to our TVs is thankfully now over, and we’re finally getting to learn what’s in store for us this year. Although there is still a long way to go before we find out which of the teams will come out on top, we can take the events of the off-season and make some predictions.
2019/20 is expected to be a record breaking year. As well as being the 6th consecutive season of having more than 100 international players on the teams’ rosters, Lebron James is likely to become the third highest all-time scoring player in the NBA. Among the many other records, James Harden could become the eighth player to achieve the highest scoring average for three seasons in a row, second only to Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
Beating the odds, the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship last year, and have made a good start so far this season, beating the New Orleans Pelicans 130-122. However, things won’t be easy for them if they want to repeat their successes from last year.
Significantly, Kawhi Leonard has left the team, having moved to the Los Angeles Clippers. Leonard was the most influential player in regards to achieving last year’s championship victory, and his departure leaves a large hole that won’t be easy to fill. Thankfully for the Raptors, they were able to sign a contract extension with Kyle Lowry, who will be the starting point guard. Some analysts also put the Raptors’ victory down to a spot of good luck granted to them by the Philadelphia 76ers not making it into the semi-finals.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are the favorites to win this year’s NBA Championship. Last year saw them lose their top-scoring players, but they were still able to win 48 of their games during the 2018/19 season. Many experts, who had been writing the team off, were surprised at how well the Clippers coach, Doc Rivers, was able to reorganize his team to extract the best performance. The new top scorer became Lou Williams, with the team being built around him.
After finishing 2nd in their division and 8th overall in the Western Conference, the LA Clippers made it to the playoffs. However, they were knocked out in the first round by the Golden State Warriors. Having picked up several big names during the off-season, including Paul George, Landry Shamet, and Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers are looking strong to come back in 2019/20.
In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks are looking like the strongest side after topping the table in the conference last year. Last year was the first year with Mike Budenholxer at the helm, so winning the conference was a significant achievement for him. In recognition of this success, Budenholxer was awarded NBA Coach of the Year. The Bucks are likely to build on last year’s success in 2019/20 so have every chance of going all the way.
Despite a lineup that most NBA teams could only dream of, the Boston Celtics were not able to deliver on what they appeared capable of. A team should be more than the sum of its parts; instead, the Celtics somehow managed to get the maths wrong and put a subtraction somewhere in their equation.
Kyle Irving, Marcus Morris, and Al Horford are now gone, making the Boston Celtics a very different team. This means that Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum must step up, working with Kemba Walker as a point guard. With this new lineup, the Celtics will likely take a couple of games to find their rhythm, so don’t expect wonders from them. However, first or second in their division would be a respectable finish for 2019/20.
The NBA 2019/20 season has only just begun and there is a long way to go. This year is likely to be a record-breaking one, with Lebron James and James Harden looking to cement their names in NBA history books. The Raptors are unlikely to repeat last years success, even less so now they’ve lost their star player. The Clippers look strong, but it’s too early to say for certain.