|Posted: 27 July 2019 at 10:18am | IP Logged | 3
Dog days of summer. Nothing but time to think about what's on the line for a bunch of NBA players' legacies next year. There may be only three or four consensus contenders but with GS finally out of the way the next title is more up for grabs than at any time in five years. I'd say there are about five legit contenders and many legends waiting to be finally made.
Kawhi cemented his rep winning it all for the Raptors but if he takes the 0 titles in 49 season Clippers to the promised land, he'll be the first player in league history to be MVP calibre in three different champion NBA cities. A whole different elite. LeBron has the same opportunity in the same city, giving him another argument to stand alongside MJ as THE all time greatest. But the clock is running. No title next year leaves him 36 and a half years old for his next shot and likely facing significant decline in his abilities. Paul George and AD have the chance to shed their "great players who can't win on the big stage" anchors, as do Embiid, Giannis, Harden, Westbrook and Boogie Cousins. Brooklyn can't win the O'Brien without KD but a solid showing would redeem Kyrie Irving's divisive last 2 years in Boston. Similarly, Curry improves his legend if he and an eventually healed Klay Thompson drag GS back to the playoffs for a respectable showing absent KD, Igoudala, and Boogie plus a lengthy Klay absence.) Though some pundits don't even have them in the playoffs, GS could still cause big problems for good teams if they peak at the right time.
Top title contenders you must go through: LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Houston Rockets, Philly, Milwaukee.
Flying under the radar but still dangerous: Denver (quiely won 54 last year and added Jerami Grant, drafted Bol Bol), Boston (lost Kyrie, Horford and Morris but gained Kemba, flawed but interesting Kanter; drafted well), Portland (lost to now-gimpy GS in the Western Conf. Finals, added Hassan Whiteside, Bazemore and Pau Gasol while losing similar talent), Indiana (lost Bogdanovich but added Brogdon, TJ Warren, Jeremy Lamb, Oladipo back).
Massively changed fun-to-watch teams with serious potential to do damage if they come together: New Orleans (added Zion Williamson, three Lakers starters, JJ Redick, Derrick Favors), Utah (Bogdanovich, Conley, Jeff Green)
If the Lakers are able to land Iguodala somehow (Memphis claims they won't release him despite being in apparent "tank now" mode) they have everything they need despite a softer defense than many.
The Clippers look like the favorites though both Kawhi and George were injured for portions of last year and must learn to adjust to playing together and life on their third team / city in three and four years.
Philly faces huge questions having lost Butler and Redick and having to integrate aging 33 y.o. Horford and Josh Richardson, keep Embiid healthy and see if this is the year Simmons finally gets an outside shot. If those are yeses, Philly makes the Finals.
Edited by Rick Senger on 31 July 2019 at 3:38pm