By: Keegan Hartman
Pop the confetti bottles, the NBA regular season is back!
It’ been 128 days since we crowned the Golden State Warriors NBA Champions, their third Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy since 2015. Stephen Curry and company managed to sweep Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games. In James’ seventh consecutive appearance in the Finals, he fell to 1-3 in the championship series against Golden State. Yet again, the Warriors head into the 2018-19 season as the team to beat out of the Western Conference.
However, during the offseason, James made the decision to pack up his family and migrate to the more competitive Western Conference.
James signed a 4-year deal worth $153 million with the iconic Los Angeles Lakers in July.
Nonetheless, this move was not the only transaction that shook the league. Soon after, the Lakers snagged former Boston great and veteran point guard Rajon Rondo, as well as former NBA Champion and Warriors center JaVale McGee. Perhaps most notably, one of James’s iconic foes for many years, former Indiana guard Lance Stephenson, also signed with the team. Most of those acquisitions were on cheap 1-2 year deals, which some speculate might open up the window for Los Angeles make an even bigger splash next year during NBA Free Agency.
The Lakers were not the only team to shop, but before and after James’ impactful move, many other players found themselves donning new colors in new cities. Here are three other teams who made significant moves:
From the NBA Draft to the free agency, Denver quietly crept its way into the playoff picture. The Nuggets took a chance with the 14th pick of the draft, taking former Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr.- who had a brief career in Columbia due to injury- but showed potential. The former McDonald’s All-American put up 30 total points in the only three games of his college career.
Former Nugget and NBA Champion Chauncey Billups spoke highly of Porter Jr.’s abilities moments after he had been selected.
“I am going to assume he’s healthy,” Billups said. “And if he is, I am going to assume he is a young, young Kevin Durant.”
Not to mention, the 6-foot-10 freshman was ranked as the no. 2 recruit coming out of Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, Washington. As for other player move, the Nuggets landed veteran Isaiah Thomas on a 1-year, $2 million deal after he was traded last offseason from the Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade with Cleveland. Thomas was traded again in February- to Los Angeles. Nonetheless, he showed promise in the 32 games played between the Lakers and Cavaliers, nearing the 500 point mark. Compliment veteran leadership with young, but promising rookie talent, and then throw that in with pieces such as Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, Will Barton, and all of the sudden you have a pretty intimidating lineup. The team already has made it to the deciding game for playoffs, however, lack the desired missing piece to get them in. Could these two fit the puzzle?
The Mavericks selected the former Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Champion and league MVP with the 3rd overall pick. The 6’7” Slovenian sensation stepped onto the professional hardwood at 13 years old, and would find himself playing for the Real Madrid Basketball team in the EuroLeague soon after. At 16, Doncic averaged nearly 12 points per game
He led Madrid to its tenth league championship this past June, and accumulated numerous accolades in his career overseas, including league MVP. In the preseason for the Mavericks, Doncic showed promise- shooting 50 percent and averaging 15.0 PPG. But the improvements for the Mavs don’ stop there- they also signed former Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.
A disruptor in the paint, Jordan was the No. 2 rebounder and a top-ten center in 2017. Dallas also welcomed back Devin Harris for his third stint with the team after trading him to Denver in February. The 35 year-old Harris averaged 8.4 PPG with the Nuggets in 2017. He reunites with guard J.J. Barea, who has chemistry with Harris from past stints.
Legendary forward Dirk Nowitzki is nearing the end of his 20-year career in the league. He is the only player drafted in the 1990’s that remains in the league- along with Atlanta’s Vince Carter. The additions, paired with rare veteran leadership for such an overall young roster, bode well for Dallas’ chances to reach the 35-win mark, and possibly contend for a playoff spot.
Golden State Warriors
As an NBA fan, and an advocate for the middle class in terms of social status, to see the rich get richer makes me absolutely sick. Sure, you lose JaVale McGee to the Lakers), but the team’s signing of free agent center DeMarcus Cousins is just unfair to the rest of the league. First, we saw Kevin Durant sign with the team in 2016. In 2018, after Cousins was rumored to return to New Orleans, he followed in Durant’s footsteps and joined the defending NBA Champion Warriors
Nonetheless, whether Cousins is on the roster or not, the Warriors still hold the upper hand in the NBA of and with him, they improve their only past weakness- the center position. This will be the true litmus test that the Warriors have faced in a while, with Durant’s contract expiring in the offseason, along with key figures like Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org