The NBA always has its shockers and its twists and turns throughout the season. But, there’s always 1 question that rings out before the season starts. In this article I will discuss every team’s major question going into the season.
Atlanta Hawks: Can the young core progress?
The Hawks had 2 top 10 picks this year, and drafted some very talented players with those picks. They already had a solid young duo of Trae Young and John Collins, and were able to add DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish to make a young core than can really make some noise in the future.
Boston Celtics: Are they really better now?
Okay, so the Celtics made some pretty big moves when they brought in Kemba and Enes Kanter to the team. Kanter is a really good offensive rebounder that was able to consistently put up 20 and 15 with the Knicks before he was waived for tanking purposes and signed to Portland. He struggled in Portland, though, and left in free agency. Kemba seems to be an upgrade personality-wise from Kyrie, but can he produce like Kyrie did? They still have Tatum and Brown, as well as Gordon Hayward who is no longer rehabbing a broken ankle. They could be a threat in the East, but they most likely just need one more piece to take them over the edge.
Charlotte Hornets: Are they the new Knicks?
I love Michael Jordan, but he really does suck at his current job. The Hornets keep on making bad moves and trades and they are looking like they will be building from the draft for the next few years. I’m just happy Kemba left so they can fully commit to a rebuild. Will they be the new leaders of the tank squad this season? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Chicago Bulls: Just how good are they?
When you look at some of the Bulls players on paper, you really don’t understand how they have been bad the past few years. Various injuries though have derailed them and have led to a 3-peat of #7 overall picks. They now have Otto Porter, though, and have a starting lineup that is only going to get scarier as they get older. Will they finally take that leap from rebuilding to showing promise?
Cleveland Cavaliers: Will Kevin Love still be here?
The Cavaliers by many accounts were the true winners of the draft this year, as they were able to get Garland and Windler at good spots, and then were able to absolutely STEAL Porter Jr. away at the 30th pick. The Cavs have a lot of salary cap space after this season to do whatever they want with it, so could they possibly trade Kevin Love to clear up even more? Many reports have shown that the Cavs have been interested in a deal with Portland that would send Love over for a mix of players that would include Mo Harkless and Nassir Little among others. Could this be the year that the Cavs finally do it?
Dallas Mavericks: Just how good are KP and Luka together?
During the 2019 NBA season, the Mavericks decided to trade for Kristaps Porzingis, which would give them a duo of KP and Luka Doncic when Porzingis got healthy. He’s going to miss around 15-20 games for load management purposes, but that is still about 62-67 games that the two will be playing together. Individually, these are two of the best young players in the entire league, but how good will they be together?
Denver Nuggets: Are they ready to compete?
The Nuggets were able to make the 2nd round of the playoffs a contest between them and the Trail Blazers, but they eventually lost. They were able to keep their old core intact as well as adding Jerami Grant. And let’s not forget that they are getting Michael Porter Jr. this year, who is already a top contender for rookie of the year. Will their new additions along with one year of age be able to take them to the top of the mountain?
Detroit Pistons: Which Derrick Rose are you getting?
Over the past couple of seasons, we have seen a few different versions of Derrick Rose, and some have been good and some have been really bad. We have seen him drop 50 points, and we’ve also seen him go down with repeated injuries. The main question that the Pistons should be asking is what D-Rose are they getting? And how well will he match up with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond?
Golden State Warriors: Are they still contending?
As much as I hate to say it, yes, in theory they are still contending. But, they are nowhere near the team that they used to be by any means whatsoever. If they had Klay it would be a different story, but he is sidelined for at least half of the season. The Warriors also have no true big with the exception of Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein, so their defensive presence is very lacking at the start of the season. They are the Warriors, though, and as long as they have prime Steph they at least are in the conversation of contending teams.
Houston Rockets: Is it their year?
The Rockets finally parted with Chris Paul and his massive contract in order to get Russell Westbrook in a trade with OKC. They have 2 of the last 3 MVP’s and they were able to keep most of their team other than that intact. If you read my “13 bold predictions for the 2020 NBA season” article (here’s the link for you to check it out: https://atletissports.com/2019/08/09/13-bold-predictions-for-the-2020-nba-season/ ) you will know that I predicted the Rockets to win the title. It all comes down to their team chemistry, as well as if Russ and Harden can set aside their usual tendencies in order to win a championship.
Indiana Pacers: Are we for real?
The Pacers made a lot of great offseason moves this year, as they picked Jeremy Lamb to replace Bojan Bogdanovic, as well as picking up Malcolm Brogdon to play alongside Victor Oladipo. The Pacers were also able to pick up TJ Warren for literally nothing. They still have Sabonis, Turner, and Oladipo as their core along with some very appealing pieces to go along with them. I think they are for real, and that come the 20-21 season, they could be serious contenders to win the East, if not the title.
Los Angeles Clippers: Will the starters matter?
The Clippers have a very good roster on paper, until you see the rotation and the starting lineups. Their starting lineup is Patrick Beverley (great defending guard, not known for offense), Landry Shamet (sophomore 3-point specialist who averages 9 points a game), Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Ivica Zubac (20 minutes per game with averages of 9 and 7). If I didn’t know that this team had Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell on their bench, I would not think this was a championship level team. But, we’ll see what happens come playoff time.
Los Angeles Lakers: #4 for LeBron?
Now I know what you’re thinking, and that’s “Mike, how can you rag on the Clipper’s starters and not talk about the Laker’s?” Well, here you go. The Lakers are starting the best player in the world and the best power forward in the world. They have Dwight Howard who is a walking double-double even in year 16, and Rajon Rondo who can still get upwards of 10 assists a night. The only truly down starter is Danny Green, and if Danny Green is your worst starter, then you’re in pretty good shape. Plus, they have Alex Caruso, who as we all know is the absolute GOAT (I’m joking please don’t kill my family). I think the Clippers definitely have a better bench, but the Lakers have them in the starters category.
That being said, the Lakers are 2nd in odds to win the title this year, and if LeBron is LeBron, that could easily turn into them having the best odds. I don’t think they’ll win this year (as previously stated, Houston is my pick), but I think that they realistically have the 2nd best shot behind the Rockets.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Can the stars live up to their potential?
The Timberwolves are probably the biggest let-down team in the entire NBA. They have a superstar center in Karl Anthony Towns, a number one overall pick in Andrew Wiggins, and they even have a top-10 pick in this past years’ draft in Jarrett Culver. KAT has lived up to his potential no question, as he is one of the best centers in the league. It’s Wiggins that is the main issue, as he seems to have lost any sense of a work ethic after entering the league. The only unknown is Culver as he hasn’t played a single game in the NBA yet. The main goal for the T-Wolves needs to be playoffs so they can establish themselves as a viable free agent destination for the 2020 and 2021 free agent classes. If they don’t establish that identity this year, it’s right on back to the lottery this year.
Memphis Grizzlies: Can they keep the rebuild ball rolling?
Memphis was able to secure the #2 overall pick this year and landed Ja Morant because of it. They were also able to add Andre Iguadola and Jonas Valanciunas in the past year from the Warriors and Raptors respectively. With Chandler Parsons gone and them finally having the ability to grow through free agency because they finally don’t have a trash player eating up their cap space. When it comes to the rest of the roster, there is still some room to grow. But the important thing is that they finally took the right first steps towards a proper rebuild instead of just treading water like they were before.
Miami Heat: Is Jimmy their Herro?
Okay, an obvious play on words there, but there is some meaning to it so hold on for just one second. Jimmy Butler decided to go down to Miami in a sign-and-trade this offseason and take his talents to South Beach. The Heat now have one of the best 2-way players in the entire league who is also a very good shooter and closer. But, you now have a prospect who was very hyped coming into the draft this year, and that is Tyler Herro. Herro is far and away the best shooter from this draft class and is definitely going to be a centerpiece of Miami for the future. He is great off the dribble but can also work off of the catch and shoot as well. What I’m saying is that the Heat have a potential dynamic duo that could be pretty scary whether it be this year, or in the future when Tyler develops a little bit more.
Milwaukee Bucks: Will they finally take the leap to champions?
The Bucks are one of the most talented teams in the NBA today, they have a top 3 player in Giannis, an all-star 2-way player in Middleton, and the best shooting center in the league in Brook Lopez. With a starting 5 that will most likely be rounded out by Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton, they have an extremely athletic starting 5 that will cause major problems defensively. They lost bench scoring with Brogdon leaving for Indiana, though, and that could very obviously affect them negatively. Will it matter as much? Maybe, but I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as people think. I think they are still one of the two favorite teams in the East to win a title, and they could very easily do it this season depending on who makes it out of the Western Conference.
New Orleans Pelicans: Will Lonzo break his bust status?
Okay, so I realize I’m not writing about Zion. Here’s the thing, though; everybody and their mother that writes basketball articles is writing about him, so I’m going to move to something that I feel is also very necessary to talk about. Lonzo has been struggling in his first 2 years in the NBA, as he has either consistently underperformed, or has suffered heavily from injury. Will this be the year that he shows off what he can do?
New York Knicks: Lamelo Ball?
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The Knicks are still not a very good team at all. I won’t go into detail, but they will be bad. They should be aiming to get the number 1 overall pick this year, and let’s hope for their sake that they actually get it this time.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Are they rebuilding?
The Thunder picked up Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the offseason, as well as keeping Steven Adams. If they are indeed “rebuilding”, they’re going about it in a very weird way. Their record halfway through the season is most likely going to indicate which way they’re going to go with it.
Orlando Magic: Can Markelle Fultz stay healthy?
Markelle Fultz looks to be in good shape going into this season, as he looks to have figured out whatever was wrong with him in Philadelphia. He has looked pretty solid in the preseason so far, but can he keep that momentum going into the regular season? If he can, then the Magic got him for an absolute bargain and should be able to move DJ Augustin to the bench and let Markelle alongside Gordon and Vucevic.
Philadelphia 76’ers: Past round 2?
The 76’ers have easily the best starting 5 in the NBA, as they have insane height, defensive capabilities, and scoring. Ben Simmons finally made a 3, and they no longer have Butler’s ego to deal with in the locker room. If Joel can show up in the playoffs this year, they have to be a favorite to win the title this year. But before they worry about a title, they have to make it past the second round, which they have not yet done with Joel and Simmons leading the team.
Phoenix Suns: Trade Devin Booker?
Yes, the Suns need to trade Devin Booker and let Ayton run the show for right now. They could get a massive haul for Booker as he is a consistent 20+ point scorer, and will only be turning 23 on October 30th this year. He has incredible value to a team that needs a consistent shooting guard, and teams will be willing to give a lot for him.
Portland Trail Blazers: Can we finally get a forward?
The Blazers have a very weird roster construction, as they always have 2 great guards, no solid forwards, and then a good center. If Nurkic comes back and plays at the level that he was playing at last year before he got injured, the Blazers can easily use Hassan Whiteside as bait to get a good forward into Portland for a deep playoff run. If Nurkic doesn’t come back this year, or isn’t the same, then it’s going to be interesting to see what the Blazers do.
Sacramento Kings: Playoffs?
The Kings have one of the best guard pairs in the league in Fox and Hield, as well as Harrison Barnes and Dwayne Dedmon. They could definitely make it into the playoffs, but we’ve said that before about the Kings, and they continue to let us down every time we say it. So instead of a guarantee, let’s just say we hope the Kings make it into the playoffs this year.
San Antonio Spurs: Will Pop stick around after this season?
Greg Popovich is the greatest coach in NBA history, there’s no question about that. But, he no longer has Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili to coach and is no longer coaching a contending team. The Spurs always manage to find a way to luck out in drafts and are still considered a prime free agency destination when they have cap space, but it doesn’t look they will be able to contend anytime soon with their current roster. Will Pop want to stick around to coach what looks to be a potential fringe playoff team after this season?
Toronto Raptors: Kawho?
With Kawhi gone, the Raptors will be running out a starting lineup of Lowry, Powell, Hollis-Jefferson, Siakam, and Gasol. They have a good starting lineup, but it’s nowhere near what they had last year during their first championship season. But, the Raptors are still good. They should make the playoffs if everything goes right, but you never know what might happen.
Utah Jazz: Two-way team?
The Utah Jazz are shaping up to be the best defensive team in the NBA this year, as 1-5 in their starting lineup can guard multiple positions well. They need to be able to match their offensive presence to their defensive presence, or at least come close. There will be no stopping them if they can do that.
Washington Wizards: Is IT going to make a comeback?
Isaiah Thomas has had a rough past couple of years, as he’s dealt with relocating multiple times, and has suffered repeatedly from the hip injury he suffered in 2017. Now he is on a team where Tomas Satoransky will be the starting point guard at the beginning of the season. This means that if IT can simply outplay Tomas, he can easily get back to be being the starting point guard