5 Major Changes to the NBA Season
The NBA offseason was not as dramatic as its 2019 counterpart, but there were sufficient changes to shake up the 2020/21 campaign. While the Lakers remain NBA betting favorites, the league is wide open beyond them.
Stars returning from injury, coaching changes and big trades will see a different NBA in 2020/21 from what we witnessed in 2019/20.
Here are five major changes to follow ahead of the new NBA season, which tips off on December 22nd with the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets.
NBA season: Five major changes
The Warriors are back
Maybe it would be more accurate to include a question mark with that heading. Golden State have Steph Curry and Draymond Green healthy (though Green will sit out the season opener), they drafted James Wiseman second overall and traded for Kelly Oubre.
Projections for the Warriors present a wide range of outcomes. Some have them missing the playoffs, others envisage Curry carrying the team towards a top four seed.
After what was effectively a year off, Golden State hopes to be in serious contention once again. It’s potentially a big season for Curry’s legacy.
Much like the Warriors, the 2019-20 season was a lost one for Brooklyn. Kevin Durant was out all year and Kyrie Irving was dealing with injury issues throughout.
The Nets might not have traded for a third star, but this is a different Brooklyn from the one that made the playoffs a couple of seasons ago. Kenny Atkinson has been replaced by Steve Nash, with Ime Udoka and Mike D’Antoni leading an All-Star coaching cast.
Durant and Irving will play their first NBA game together on December 22nd. The futures of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Spencer Dinwiddie are uncertain as James Harden trade rumors rumble.
Van Gundy & Zion
Jrue Holiday was flipped to the Milwaukee Bucks. Alvin Gentry was replaced by Stan Van Gundy. Steven Adams arrived from Oklahoma City. There was change aplenty in New Orleans as the Pels try to build a team around Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.
The defense was cataclysmically bad last season. Van Gundy has a track record of top tier defensive teams, but his teams also tend to play slow. This Pels team needs to get out and run, as their halfcourt offense is woefully lacking in shooting.
Most of all, though, how many games will Zion play? What shape will he be in?
New Orleans are a very hard team to evaluate. One thing is for sure, though – Zion’s short- and long-term health will determine the future of this franchise.
Doc tries to fix Philly
Just like Brooklyn, everything with the Sixers must be qualified by their involvement in any Harden trade talks. Flipping Ben Simmons for the former MVP changes everything.
As of the time of writing, the Sixers have reshaped their roster without an overhaul and have made a change on the bench, hiring Doc Rivers to replace Brett Brown. Danny Green and Seth Curry bring much-needed shooting to space the floor for Simmons and Joel Embiid. First-round pick Tyrese Maxey impressed in preseason.
It’s easy to get lured into the Sixers as a concept. It’s time for the concept to become reality or it will be the end of the Simmons and Embiid duo.
Westbrook and Beal team up
Did Russell Westbrook request a trade because he knew Harden wanted out? Was Bradley Beal fed up with John Wall? Whatever the prelude, the outcome was John Wall and Russell Westbrook being traded for one another.
The Wizards are trying to be competitive. They know they are under pressure to give Beal a winning team. Westbrook and Beal are the best backcourt in the Eastern Conference, but this Washington roster is perilously lacking on the defensive end.
This should be a fun offense. How good can they be with a below-average defense? Anything less than the top-half of the play-in and the Wizards will be sweating on Beal’s future.