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Stars on New Teams
In quite possibly the craziest offseason of all-time, the entire structure of the NBA was shaken up in response to the unbeatable team that was built in the Bay. Here are a few teams that added a star or two in the offseason.
- Added Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, drafted Jayson Tatum
- Lost Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Amir Johnson
- Added Isaiah Thomas, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder
- Lost Kyrie Irving
- Added Chris Paul
- Lost Patrick Beverly
Oklahoma City Thunder:
- Added Paul George, Carmelo Anthony
- Lost Victor Oladipo
- Added Jimmy Butler
- Added Dwight Howard, drafted Malik Monk
- Added Paul Millsap
- Added D’Angelo Russell
- Lost Brook Lopez
- The Cavs lost Kyrie Irving and got better. How does that happen? By adding tons of depth along with players who can stay afloat while LeBron is on the bench. When Isaiah Thomas is back and healthy, this team will be primed to head to the Finals for the fourth-straight year.
- The Celtics added two stars in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, but they lost essential pieces of their core from their first-place team from last season. Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder are all gone, but rookie Jayson Tatum and second-year Jaylen Brown represent a strong future for this team. They’ll give Cleveland a run for their money, but don’t expect them to seize the throne just yet.
- They didn’t make any big-time acquisitions in the offseason like the entire Western Conference did, but they still have enough talent to be considered the third-best team in the East. Boston beat them in seven games last year in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and the Celtics got better, so don’t expect them to finish much better this year. They’ll still be a tough team that you don’t want to face.
- Expect more of the same from Toronto. Pretty good, but not good enough to truly compete in the East. They failed to make any real moves in the offseason, while the teams at the top got better. They’re still a playoff team, but they might not make it through the first round.
- Will Giannis emerge as an MVP candidate this year? No. I think it’s a little too early for that. I mean, come on. He’s ONLY TWENTY-TWO. With LeBron still on top and guys like Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard all in their prime right now, Giannis will have to wait a few more years. He will soon reign as the best player in the league (or at least the East once LeBron finally hangs it up), but it is not yet his day. This will be a team to watch out for though. In a few years, they’ll be title contenders.
- The Hornets are a bit of a sleeper team. Kemba Walker is quickly asserting himself into the “best point guard in the East” conversation, and adding players like Dwight Howard (who is still a solid NBA player) and rookie Malik Monk to pick up the slack couldn’t hurt. This team will make the playoffs, and might even win their first series. They’re a team on the rise, but we know who the real contenders are.
- The Heat barely missed the Playoffs last season, and the combination of them getting better alongside the Pacers and Bulls getting significantly worse makes Miami a playoff team.
- It was either the Pistons or the 76ers, and I chose not to trust the process. Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and the rest will be a fun team to watch, and may even steal this spot, but I wouldn’t count on it. The Pistons are more mature and experienced, and we haven’t really seen any of the Philadelphia ‘stars’ play yet.
- The Warriors kept their core together and added some depth. Other teams can try to make whatever moves they want, but no one is touching the Warriors. It’ll be a little bit more competitive, but let’s be realistic.
- Adding Chris Paul to a team that already has James Harden may be enough to put this team into the Western Conference Finals conversation. They lost their best defender in Patrick Beverly, but Paul will likely pick up the slack while adding more offense to an already great offensive team. If their chemistry works, they’ll be dangerous
Oklahoma City Thunder
- Sometimes throwing a bunch of all-stars on a team makes them a lot better (see: Miami Heat 2010). Sometimes, though, it looks amazing on paper but turns out to be a train wreck (see: Los Angeles Lakers 2012). I think in this scenario, adding Paul George and Carmelo Anthony is a better move than adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, but not quite the same as adding LeBron James and Chris Bosh. This will be one of the most fun teams to watch, but I don’t think they’ll be quite as good as people think. They may make a run at the WCF, but they’re still a long way behind the Warriors.
San Antonio Spurs
- The Spurs may finish as low as fourth or fifth, but don’t sleep on them. They could finish as high as first, but likely won’t. No matter where they finish, though, they are a legitimate title contender. Kawhi Leonard is a downright superstar and the best two-way player in the NBA. Period. Greg Popovich is the best coach in the NBA. Period. This team will always be a contender, no matter what moves the other teams in the West make.
- This will be fun. Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson? Three years ago (with them all at the level they’re at now) that’s a team that is competing for a spot in the Finals with Golden State and Oklahoma City (with Durant). However, the league has changed. Though the Wolves got exponentially better this offseason, they are still a team on the rise while the other teams still sit on the throne in the West.
Los Angeles Clippers
- Blake Griffin is probably good enough to make the playoffs without Chris Paul, right?
- Paul Millsap is going to help keep the Nuggets afloat in the Western Conference playoff picture, right?
- The Grizzlies lost Zach Randolph and Tony Allen in the offseason, but Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are two of the most underrated players in the NBA. They’re good enough and experienced enough to at least make a playoff appearance, despite the changes that were made.
- Most Valuable Player: LeBron James, Cleveland
- Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia
- Most Improved Player: D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn
- Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green, Golden State
- Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens, Boston
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors (Again)
- Warriors win series 4-2
- Steph Curry is named Finals MVP
Best Players By Position
- Steph Curry
- Russell Westbrook
- John Wall
- Chris Paul
- Kyrie Irving
Honorable Mentions: Damian Lillard, Isaiah Thomas, Mike Conley
- James Harden
- Klay Thompson
- Jimmy Butler
- DeMar DeRozan
- Bradley Beal
Honorable Mentions: CJ McCollum, Dwayne Wade, Devin Booker
- LeBron James
- Kevin Durant
- Kawhi Leonard
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Paul George
Honorable Mentions: Gordon Hayward, Carmelo Anthony
- Anthony Davis
- Draymond Green
- Kevin Love
- Blake Griffin
- Paul Millsap
Honorable Mentions: LaMarcus Aldridge, Kristaps Porzingis, Serge Ibaka
- Karl Anthony-Towns
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Rudy Gobert
- Marc Gasol
- Al Horford
Honorable Mentions: Nikola Jokic, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Jordan
-featured image via uproxx.com-