Basketball’s Return

it+felt+good+to+shoot+a+ball+around.+Haven%E2%80%99t+done+this+in+well+over+10+years.+I+felt+like+Tom+Shep+playing+against+Nutso.

Edgar Chaparro

it felt good to shoot a ball around. Haven’t done this in well over 10 years. I felt like Tom Shep playing against Nutso.

Kyle Ward, Writer

With the NBA having made it’s return on Tuesday the 19th for it’s 75th season, there are many teams looking to take the crown on this historic season, this is as good a time as any to preview all thirty teams going into the year. 

 

  1. Milwaukee Bucks

Additions: George Hill, Grayson Allen, Semi Ojeleye, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Rodney Hood, Justin Robinson, Georgios Kalaitzakas

 

Losses: Elijah Bryant, Mamadi Diakite, Bryn Forbes, Justin Jackson, Jeff Teague, Sam Merrill, PJ Tucker, Axel Toupane

 

While the Bucks mostly kept the championship winning group together, they did swap around role players, losing Bryn Forbes and Jeff Teague in free agency, and adding George Hill by signing and Grayson Allen by trade. This keeps them as a heavy favorite because the title winning formula remains in the Cream City.

 

2. Brooklyn Nets

Additions: LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre’ Bembry, Jevon Carter, David Duke Jr., Paul Millsap, Patty Mills, Cameron Thomas, Kessler Edwards, James Johnson, Day’Ron Sharpe

 

Losses: Spencer Dinwiddie, Jeff Green, DeAndre Jordan, Landry Shamet, Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot, Mike James, Tyler Johnson, Chris Chiozza, Alize Johnson, Reggie Perry

 

Despite the question of whether Kyrie Irving will play this season due to his refusal to get the vaccine, the Nets still have Kevin Durant and James Harden with a decent supporting cast, which should be able to get them through the regular season towards the top of the standings.

 

3. Los Angeles Lakers

Additions: Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kendrick Nunn, Rajon Rondo, Trevor Ariza, Avery Bradley, Kent Bazemore, Sekou Doumbouya, Wayne Ellington, DeAndre Jordan, Jay Huff, Malik Monk, Austin Reeves, Russell Westbrook

 

Losses: Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso, Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Jared Dudley, Marc Gasol, Wesley Matthews, Markieff Morris, Alfonzo McKinnie, Ben McLemore

 

The Lake-Show had massive roster turnover in the supporting cast around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Swapping shooters like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ben McLemore and Wesley Matthews for Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn, Kent Bazemore and Wayne Ellington. Adding Carmelo Anthony should bring a nice scoring punch to the roster along with the gained ball handlers in Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. The Lakers goal is a championship and they will accept nothing less, otherwise a similar roster turnover may occur next offseason.

 

4. Utah Jazz

Additions: Rudy Gay, Eric Paschall, Jared Butler, Hassan Whiteside, Malik Fitts

 

Losses: Derrick Favors, Ersan Ilyasova, Jarrell Brantley, Matt Thomas, Georges Niang, Juwan Morgan

 

Utah had a rather disappointing postseason blowing their series lead to the Kawhi-less Clippers, but they made a few nice moves to bolster depth. Paschall and Gay especially will help the four spot if Bogdanovic goes down again like he has previously, while Whiteside will allow for Gobert to rest in non critical situations.

 

5. Phoenix Suns

Additions: Elfrid Payton, JaVale McGee, Chandler Hutchinson, Landry Shamet

 

Losses: Torrey Craig, E’Twaun Moore, Jevon Carter, Langston Galloway, Ty-Shon Alexander

 

Phoenix fell just short to Milwaukee in the NBA Finals, continuing Chris Paul and the franchise’s drought of no championship. But the suns made much needed moves in the offseason in acquiring a backup center in JaVale McGee and a bench shooter in Landry Shamet, while their only significant loss was Torrey Craig, who had his best season of his career for the team last season. The Suns should be back in contention but the DeAndre Ayton contract situation could be a distraction.

 

6. Philadelphia 76ers

Additions: Andre Drummond, Jaden Springer, Charles Bassey, Georges Niang, Grant Riller, Aaron Henry

 

Losses: Dwight Howard, Mike Scott, George Hill, Gary Clark, Anthony Tolliver, Rayjon Tucker

 

While the Sixers have the “situation” with Ben Simmons looming over their heads for the foreseeable future, they still have a well put together roster to make at least an attempt at the conference finals. Joel Embiid will have as good an opportunity as any to take over and be an MVP candidate, and he will need to be healthy come playoff time if this team wants to function.

 

7. Los Angeles Clippers

Additions: Eric Bledsoe, Keon Johnson, BJ Boston, Isaiah Hartenstein, Jason Preston, Justice Winslow

 

Losses: Patrick Beverley, DeMarcus Cousins, Yogi Ferrell, Daniel Oturu, Rajon Rondo, Patrick Patterson

 

The Clippers may struggle this regular season pending on the exact date of Kawhi Leonard’s return, the offense will have to heavily rely on Paul George, Reggie Jackson, and Marcus Morris. With the inconsistency of those players, this could go really well, or terrible in a stacked western conference.

8. Miami Heat

Additions: Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, Markieff Morris, Marcus Garrett, Caleb Martin

 

Losses: Goran Dragic, Precious Achiuwa, Andre Iguodala, Kendrick Nunn, Nemanja Bjelica, Trevor Ariza

 

The Heat made a huge splash trading for Kyle Lowry to bring in as a primary ball handler, this will help relieve some pressure off of Jimmy Butler and let him play more offball. The acquisition of Lowry will also help the pick and roll offense with Bam Adebayo, helping them get more easy points. Ultimately, the Heat are one of the bottom tier title contenders, but they are still in the conversation, they did get to the finals in 2020 so maybe acquiring Lowry is the piece that gets them over the edge.

 

9. Denver Nuggets

Additions: Nah’Shon Hyland, Jeff Green, Petr Cornelie

 

Losses: Paul Millsap, JaVale McGee, Shaquille Harrison

 

Denver didn’t really change much about their roster from the previous season, shuffling around veteran big men and bringing in a young promising guard in Bones Hyland. The Nuggets will likely be in the race for the title, but as previous years have shown, they might not have enough to go all the way.

 

10. Atlanta Hawks

Additions: Delon Wright, Sharife Cooper, Jalen Johnson, Gorgui Dieng, Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot

 

Losses: Tony Snell, kris Dunn, Bruno Fernando, Nathan Knight, Brandon Goodwin

 

While a return to the Eastern Conference Finals is unlikely, they could have the same magic remaining after last years’ run. They will once again rely heavy on Trae Young carrying the offense, Cam Reddish and Kevin Huerter should be able to contribute at a higher level than last year, and it would help them greatly if their depth were to perform in the playoffs.

 

11. Dallas Mavericks

Additions: Moses Brown, Reggie Bullock, Sterling Brown, Frank Ntilikina, JaQuori McLaughlin, Eugene Omiyori

 

Losses: Tyler Bey, JJ Redick, Josh Richardson, Tyrell Terry, Nicolo Melli, Nate Hinton

 

The Mavericks are in a very similar situation to that of the Atlanta Hawks, offensive load carried by a star guard, a highly paid versatile big man, and in need of role players stepping up in the playoffs to make a deep run. While Luka will get MVP votes this year, he will only be a true candidate if he leads the Mavericks to a top seed in the west. 

 

12. Portland Trail Blazers

Additions: Larry Nance Jr., Tony Snell, Cody Zeller, Trendon Watford, Ben McLemore, Dennis Smith Jr., Greg Brown Jr.

 

Losses: Carmelo Anthony, Enes Kanter, Zach Collins, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Harry Giles, Derrick Jones Jr., TJ Leaf

 

While the Blazers goals this offseason should have been to build a title contender around Damian Lillard to convince him staying is the right option, the Blazers seemed to do the exact opposite, doing more shuffling around of pieces than moving the needle towards a Championship, they are very likely playoff contenders, but they should be looking towards loftier goals as their superstar reaches the wrong side of thirty.

 

13. Chicago Bulls

Additions: Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, Matt Thomas, Derrick Jones Jr, Alize Johnson, Ayo Dosunmu, Tony Bradley, Tyler Cook, Marko Simonovic

 

Losses: Al-Farouq-Aminu, Thaddeus Young, Lauri Markkanen, Daniel Theis, Ryan Arcidiacono, Christiano Felicio, Adam Mokoka, Garret Temple, Tomas Satoransky, Denzel Valentine

 

The Bulls are likely the most improved team after this past offseason, surrounding Zach LaVine and trade deadline acquisition Nikola Vucevic with Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso just to name the most important ones. This should lead them to a decent positioning in the east, allowing them to just pass having to play in the play in. 

 

14. New York Knicks

Additions: Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Luka Samanic, Quentin Grimes, Jericho Sims, Wayne Selden Jr, Miles McBride

 

Losses: Reggie Bullock, Frank Ntilikina, Elfrid Payton, Jared Harper, Luca Vildoza, Theo Pinson, Norvell Pelle

 

The Knicks made a pair of splash acquisitions that could either sink or swim. The first was Kemba Walker coming over from OKC after getting bought out, the second being Evan Fournier on a rich salary to poach him away from Boston. These moves were made to support a deeper playoff run than 5 games, and with the return of Mitchell Robinson to keep a paint presence on the floor for 48 minutes, the Knicks top defense in the league should be able to stand pat.

 

15. Boston Celtics

Additions: Dennis Schroder, Al Horford, Enes Kanter, Josh Richardson, Bruno Fernando, Sam Hauser, Juancho Hernangomez, Brodric Thomas

 

Losses: Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Tacko Fall, Carsen Edwards, Semi Ojeleye, Tremont Waters, Tristan Thompson, Luke Kornet

 

The Celtics will likely attempt to take a big step this year after a relatively disappointing result coming from last season. They, like many other teams who like their core but not the cast around it, shuffled pieces around or in Eva Fournier’s case they weren’t willing to pay the amount the Knicks offered. The big man problem is seemingly helped by the returns of Enes Kanter and Al Horford, but now their question is reliable guard depth, as they traded Kemba Walker to OKC in the offseason.

 

16. Golden State Warriors

Additions: Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Andre Iguodala, Chris Chiozza, Jeff Dowtin

 

Losses: Kent Bazemore, Jordan Bell, Kelly Oubre Jr., Eric Paschall, Alen Smailagic, Mychal Mulder

 

The Warriors are also looking for steps forward, but it will be a daunting task in the Western conference, they will likely be in the play in tournament again, which will hurt their dreams at another title or another Curry MVP.

 

17. Toronto Raptors

Additions: Dalando Banton, Precious Achiuwa, Goran Dragic, Scottie Barnes, Isaac Bonga, Justin Champagnie, Sam Dekker, David Johnson, Svi Mykhailiuk

 

Losses: Kyle Lowry, Rodney Hood, Aron Baynes, Paul Watson, Freddie Gillespie, Jalen Harris, DeAndre’ Bembry, Stanley Johnson

 

The Raptors have stumbled mightily from their championship glory of 2019, missing even the play in tournament last season. This will be the first Raptors roster without Kyle Lowry since the 2012 trade deadline, and they will look to new acquisitions like Scottie Barnes, Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa to replace the production of the franchises face.. They look to be a contender for the play in barring either a massive injury wave to make them miss the play in or a surge of wins to elevate them past the seventh seed. 

 

18. Indiana Pacers

Additions: Torrey Craig, Chris Duarte, Brad Wanamaker, Isaiah Jackson, Duane Washington Jr., DeJon Jarreau

 

Losses: Edmond Sumner, Aaron Holiday, JaKarr Sampson, Cassius Stanley, Doug McDermott, Amida Brimah

 

The Pacers look to be a fringe playoff contender once again this season, but at the very least they have good depth and a roster that if healthy is at least a threat to most playoff teams, the eventual return of TJ Warren will do wonders for the offense that they needed so desperately last year.

 

19. Sacramento Kings

Additions: Davion Mitchell, Tristan Thompson, Alex Len, Neemias Queta

 

Losses: Hassan Whiteside, Delon Wright, Kyle Guy, Justin James

 

Sac-Town will look to finally take the jump into the playoffs after a few seasons of teetering around it. They have the pieces to be an exciting and good team, especially with the return of Richaun Holmes to the front court. This team will look to De”Aaron Fox once again to lead this team as far as he can, but he will get some relief with the drafting of Davion Mitchell this offseason.

 

20 Charlotte Hornets

Additions: Kelly Oubre Jr., Mason Plumlee, Kai Jones, James Bouknight, Ish Smith, JT Thor, Scottie Lewis, Arnoldas Kulboka

 

Losses: Malik Monk, DeVonte Graham, Cody Zeller, Grant Riller, Brad Wanamaker, Caleb Martin, Bismack Biyombo, Nate Darling

 

The Hornets will only go as far as LaMelo Ball can take them, he is the offense of this team and they attempted to surround him with offball shooters and pick and roll big men. The drafting of James Bouknight and signings of Kelly Oubre and Mason Plumlee attest to that. While the Hornets may have a chance to sneak into the play in tournament, they are currently on the outside looking in.

 

  1. Memphis Grizzlies

Additions: Steven Adams, Zaire Williams, Jarrett Culver, Yves Pons, Santi Aldama, Sam Merrill

 

Losses: Jonas Valanciunas, Grayson Allen, Tim Frazier, Justice Winslow, Jontay Porter, Sean McDermott

 

The Grizzlies seemingly took a step back in the offseason with their move of trading Jonas Valanciunas for Steven Adams, the pick used to select Zaire Williams, and the eventually traded Eric Bledsoe. Improvements from Jaren Jackson and Desmond Bane could help propel this team who has strapped their rocket to Ja Morant’s back.

 

  1. Washington Wizards

Additions: Spencer Dinwiddie, Aaron Holiday, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Corey Kispert, Isaiah Todd, Joel Ayayi

 

Losses: Russell Westbrook, Robin Lopez, Alex Len, Garrison Mathews, Ish Smith, Chandler Hutchison, Caleb Holmsley, Isaac Bonga

 

The Wizards undoubtedly won the Russell Westbrook trade, but I still doubt their chances at the playoffs with this new core. Their defense will still be a massive issue, particularly in the interior, and their reliance will still be on Bradley Beal’s shoulders even after taking Spencer Dinwiddie away from Brooklyn.

 

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Additions: Patrick Beverley, Nathan Knight, Taurean Prince, Leandro Bolmaro, McKinley Wright

 

Losses: Ed Davis, Juancho Hernangomez, Jarrett Culver, Ricky Rubio

 

The T-Wolves didn’t do much with their roster this offseason because they still believe if healthy this core can make a playoff push, they will also be expecting further improvements from Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels.

 

  1. Houston Rockets

Additions: Jalen Green, Daniel Theis, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, Josh Christopher, Daishen Nix, Garrison Mathews

 

Losses: Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, Sterling Brown, Anthony Lamb, Dante Exum, Cameron Oliver, Cam Reynolds, DJ Wilson, Khyri Thomas

 

While the Rockets are still a ways away from contending, they should be exciting and show improvements off the back of Jalen Green and Christian Wood. The looming John Wall trade will still shake up the roster a bit but we don’t know exactly what a package for Wall would get Houston in return.

 

  1. New Orleans Pelicans

Additions: Jonas Valanciunas, Tomas Satoransky, Devonte’ Graham, Trey Murphy, Garrett Temple, Herbert Jones, Jose Alvarado, Daulton Hommes

 

Losses: Lonzo Ball, Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, Wenyan Gabriel, James Johnson, Wesley Iwundu, James Nunnally

 

The Pels ultimately got worse this offseason with the loss of Lonzo Ball in particular. They could be able to win some games that they maybe shouldn’t against teams with a lack of defense, but they will also be missing Zion Williamson for the beginning of the season.

 

  1. Detroit Pistons

Additions: Cade Cunningham, Kelly Olynyk, Luka Garza, Isaiah Livers, Trey Lyles, Jamorko Pickett, Chris Smith

 

Losses: Wayne Ellington, Sekou Doumbouya, Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, Tyler Cook, Dennis Smith Jr., Deividas Sirvydas

 

The addition of Cade Cunningham should turbo charge this teams future, but for right now they will just marginally improve from worst in the league. They still do have a solid core with Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, but the core just isn’t ready to make the playoffs yet.

 

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Additions: Derrick Favors, Josh Giddey, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Tre Mann, Aaron Wiggins, Vit Krejci, Paul Watson

 

Losses: Al Horford, Moses Brown, Tony Bradley, Josh Hall, Jaylen Hoard, Svi Mykhailiuk

 

The Thunder still need time to develop their core, but last season was promising, watching Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Aleksej Pokusevski and Lu Dort improve should definitely boost their confidence. The rookies brought in should help solidify the future plans of contention in OKC, as for this season thought, probably another downer as they don’t have the tools to contend at the moment.

 

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Additions: Evan Mobley, Lauri Markkanen, Ricky Rubio, RJ Nembhard, Tacko Fall, Ed Davis, Denzel Valentine, Kevin Pangos

 

Losses: Larry Nance Jr., Taurean Prince, Matthew Dellavadova, Damyean Dotson, Mfiondu Kabungele, Isaiah Hartenstein, Jeremiah Martin, Brodric Thomas, Anderson Varejao

 

The Cavs will continue to be an offensive dynamo lead by Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, but their defense outside of Jarrett Allen remains to be a question. Evan Mobley has defensive potential but it’s an unknown as of know because he’s a rookie, but their next best defender is probably Ricky Rubio, who is ok on the perimeter but isn’t exactly the savior of the defense. They will probably score a ton of points but allow even more, which isn’t set up for success.

 

  1. San Antonio Spurs

Additions: Thaddeus Young, Zach Collins, Bryn Forbes, Doug McDermott, Joshua Primo, Joe Weiskamp, Jock Landale, Devontae Cacok

 

Losses: Luka Samanic, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Trey Lyles, Gorgui Dieng, Patty Mills, DaQuan Jeffries, Quinndary Weatherspoon

 

The Spurs have stripped this team of most of what remained to start a rebuild centered around Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson. This may also be the end of the hall of fame career of Greg Popovich, as he is getting very old and slightly out of touch with his roster building skills. If they can add a Chet Holmgren or Paulo Banchero to this roster in the offseason, that would certainly kickstart this rebuild in the right direction.

 

  1. Orlando Magic

Additions: Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Robin Lopez, E’Twaun Moore

 

Losses: Otto Porter Jr., James Ennis, Dwayne Bacon, Chasson Randle, Sindarius Thornwell, Donta Hall

 

The Magic are far away from any success with the team they currently have. Adding young talent at the trade deadline and the offseason will be good to set up their future, Wendell Carter Jr., Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner will all be the building blocks used to build this team back into a playoff contender but they’ll need some fine tuning. The Magic could be a legit contender in about 2025.