As a new season has officially begun, there may be more reasons than ever to watch the NBA this year.
The structure of the NBA has changed drastically since the Finals took place back in June, where the Raptors upset a crippled Warriors roster. One of the biggest moves that will affect this season is Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers.
After winning his second NBA title and second Finals MVP, Leonard chose to leave Toronto for the West Coast. He decided to join the Los Angeles Clippers alongside Paul George. Head Coach Doc Rivers for the Clippers said Leonard’s work ethic is something that stands out to him.
“It’s hard to explain,” Rivers said. “He’s maniacal and it’s long and it’s very serious. I think for the young guys, even for our young coaches, like the seriousness that he takes his workouts, I haven’t seen anything like that.”
Leonard is coming off his best season statistically with a career-high 26.6 PPG and 7.3 RPG on a 49.6% clip from the field.
Looking at the runner-up, the Warriors are in unfamiliar territory for the first time in over five years. After being the favorites to win the Finals for several years in a row, Golden State is projected to finish seventh in the Western Conference.
A lot of that has to do with roster changes and injuries. After winning the Finals MVP for two years in a row, Kevin Durant decided to join the Brooklyn Nets with Kyrie Irving and Deandre Jordan.
Durant dealt with several injuries during the Warriors’ postseason run in 2019. However, none was greater than his ruptured achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The injury ultimately sealed the fate for Golden State, who would fall to the Toronto Raptors in six games.
Following the injury to Durant, teammate Klay Thompson voiced his frustrations with the unfortunate injury.
“It sucks, I feel so bad for him,” Thompson said. “He’s going to come back stronger though. That’s the kind of fighter he is, and I’m going to miss him, man.”
Thompson would also be victim to injury, tearing his ACL in his left knee the following game. Durant is expected to miss the entire 2020 season. Thompson is expected to miss the majority of it.
There is even more action on the West Coast with Anthony Davis and Lebron James looking to bring the Los Angeles Lakers its first Finals’ championship since 2010.
After his tenure at the Pelicans of New Orleans, Davis ventured to join James. Danny Green also decided to head west after winning the Finals alongside Leonard for the Raptors. The Lakers are expected to be contenders for the first time in nearly a decade.
Looking more local, the Houston Rockets have a new weapon with Chris Paul now gone. Russell Westbrook alongside James Harden is scary to think about. While these players were former teammates at Oklahoma City, much has changed with their roles on the court.
Both Westbrook and Harden had become their team’s main offensive producer, but that will have to change at Houston. Sharing the ball and rebuilding that chemistry will be key on the Rockets’ success this season.
Meanwhile in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks are the favorites to represent their conference in the 2020 NBA Finals.
After going up 2-0 to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals in May, the Bucks would lose four straight to end its season. This year, the Raptors are not the same team, and the only team that arguably stands in their way are the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers added Al Horford to be another body for Joel Embiid in the paint. Meanwhile, the Bucks kept their core intact with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kris Middleton in the frontcourt. This should be the most likely conference finals matchup barring any injuries.
There are countless new stories to chase as the new NBA season has begun, including the number one pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson. This season will be unlike any other in recent memory, and the battle for the Larry O’Brien Trophy has never been more up in the air.