The NBA landscape has completely shifted: The Warriors Dynasty have lost one of its key pieces, the Brooklyn Nets have completed possibly the greatest two year turnaround in NBA history, and the Clippers may finally be the Kings of Los Angeles. As the dust settles and the smoke disappears from the remaining Woj bombs, we at JTP are going to analyze who stands atop the NBA mountain as of now.
1.) Los Angeles Clippers
Although the Clippers’ offseason initially looked dull as Kawhi Leonard, according to almost every trusted source in America, seemed to be down to the Lakers and the Raptors, a last minute monumental trade to acquire OKC SF Paul George pushed Kawhi to LA. It seemed like a perfect fit— low profile but still in his hometown, ability to offer max contract, and the ability to claim them as his team. With the resigning of key pieces like Ivica Zubac and hard-nosed defensive point guard Patrick Beverly, the Clippers have the perfect combination of star power and depth.
2.) Los Angeles Lakers
The Clippers’ historic “big brother”, the LA Lakers, also have a team that is poised to dominate the Western Conference. After acquiring Anthony Davis in a long-awaited trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, the “Lakeshow” has a historic 1-2 punch with the likes of the King and the Brow. With the freed up cap space reserved for signing Kawhi, the Lakers have been able to sign valuable assets to relatively inconsequential contracts. They added shooting and guard depth by signing Danny Green and Quinn Cook while resigning veteran point guard Rajon Rondo. In addition, former All-Star Center Boogie Cousins signed a one year deal in the hopes of tacking on to another championship level team(sorry it didn’t work out last year Boog). The Lakers surely don’t have the same level of depth or defensive prowess as the Clippers but with a player like LeBron James on your team, anything can happen.
3.) Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers said sayonara to Jimmy “All I Want to Do Is Win” Butler who apparently would rather go 42-40 and lose in the first round rather than contend for an NBA Championship….. Yes, we’re still a little hurt. Regardless, the Sixers did add some meaningful pieces including Al Horford, Kyle O’Quinn, Josh Richardson and resigned Tobias Harris. With the KD-less Nets the Sixers should be the favorites to finally get over the hump into the NBA Finals.
4.) Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee essentially retained their entire squad last year to long term contracts and are poised to repeat their sixty win season from last year. This team reminds me of the 2014 Hawks– great in the regular season but doesn’t have enough star power to make a serious playoff push. However, the NBA is a league of disorder; a couple injuries here and a dash of dysfunctional management, the Bucks could find themselves in the NBA Finals.
5.) Golden State Warriors
No, the Warriors haven’t gone away just yet. Annoying? Yes. But you have to admire the capacity of GM Bob Meyers to retain a talented nucleus even in the face of losing arguably the best player in the world. Newly acquired D’Angelo Russell should make an immediate impact with the loss of Klay Thompson for a majority of the year(unless he gets traded before the deadline which is a highly likely scenario), and the addition of Willie Cauley-Stein alongside Kevon Looney and Draymond Green should surprise teams with a shockingly formidable and physical front court.
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