The Golden State Warriors were once unbeatable, but on Oct. 22 the NBA landscape changed
Balance has returned to the force, or rather, the NBA. The past three seasons, the Golden State Warriors were an almost unstoppable force while employing one of history’s best scorers: Kevin Durant.
The Toronto Raptors won its first NBA title against the Warriors last season thanks to Kawhi Leonard. Leonard has since joined the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent while Kevin Durant also made a splash in free agency by joining superstar point guard Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets.
Over in the Eastern Conference —sometimes known as the weaker conference— not much has changed for the top teams from last season. Philadelphia hopes to make a run at glory after trusting the process for the past few years. If Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid can take the next step in their skills, then they can be the best 76ers team since Allen Iverson graced the court.
The Boston Celtics is the most storied franchise and it’s making its way back to playoff stardom. But with Irving now in Brooklyn, the Celtics is running its offense through Kemba Walker, who is good, but not quite the caliber of Irving. Second-year man Jayson Tatum will need to evolve his game if the Celtics want any shot at a championship this year.
The Raptors are basically the same team they were last year, minus star player Leonard. It will make the playoffs, but anything beyond that will take a miracle. Last season’s MVP, Giannis Antetokoumpo, is leading the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are off to a slow start, but when you have a fantastic athlete like Antetokoumpo, aka “The Greek Freak,” it’s hard to be counted out.
Leonard joins another all-star forward, Paul George, to create one of the best teams the Los Angeles Clippers has seen. Lebron James is now in year two with the Los Angeles Lakers and they recently brought in one of the top big men in the league, Anthony Davis. James is keeping his standard stat line that puts him near the best in the NBA, but Davis is a top 5 player in points (28.8), blocks (3), and rebounds (12.5) so far this season.
Both LA teams look to lead the Western Conference, but the up and coming Utah Jazz is an exciting team to watch, with Donovan Mitchell as the star averaging almost 25 points a game in 2019. However, as long as Gregg Popovich is coaching the San Antonio Spurs, they will be an obstacle for other teams. Demar Derozan is the star, but the roster has plenty of talent and young point guard Dejountae Murray has what it takes to make the Spurs dangerous again.
The Golden State Warriors is no longer the team to beat in the west. Durant is gone and multiple key bench players are playing elsewhere. A team with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will not be a pushover. However, with Thompson still recovering from an ACL tear from the end of last season’s playoffs and Curry suffering from a broken hand, Green will have to take over as the team’s best asset for now.
Also in the west, there is the rookie sensation, Zion Williamson, who is healing from a knee injury. Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans are young and dynamic and they just might surprise the rest of the NBA.
The most dangerous team in the west, outside of the LA Clippers, is the Houston Rockets. The Chris Paul and James Harden combo was good, but it didn’t work out as planned. Paul is gone and now the 2016 MVP Russell Westbrook joins the 2017 MVP Harden to create a two-headed monster down in Texas.