Still trying to figure out which team has which guys from this offseason? You aren’t alone. Honestly at this point, it feels like I fired up 2K and just his random year dynasty draft. The Lakers v Clippers, new face Pelicans, max contract D-Lo, Brooklyn’s Best, Cardiac Cemba Celties (I’m well aware that Kemba has a K, thanks) and so many other important moves are setting up this next season to be one of the most anticipated ever.
With this new season approaching, I wanted to bring up some guys who have shit to prove this year, whether it’s because of their recent move or just personal growth. Let’s start with an obvious one.
Kawhi Leonard – LA Clippers
It’s not so much that he has anything to prove as a basketball player per-say, more to why he picked the Clippers. The Clippers were amazing last year given the players they had, and honestly I think either them or the Nets easily are the wide margin winners this off season. Leonard is the best player currently on the planet as it stands, and he proved that this past season becoming the first player to win Finals MVP with their brand new team in the first season.
The interesting thing for me here is we all know Kawhi is the quiet, sophisticated New Balance wearing lovable star we all thought would be a Spur forever. Look, again….Kawhi has nothing to prove to me on the court. He does have to prove to me that the Clippers were a better option than Toronto, and even if he doesn’t, can we blame the dude for wanting to be in LA?
Kyrie Irving – Brooklyn Nets
The man who thought he knew what he wanted. The point guard that the Celtics needed. The….we could go on for hours about what Kyrie Irving should be right now, but currently he’s a good guard coming off a terrible year from a team that drastically underperformed. I love Irving, I have since his (very short) Duke days. I was completely on his side with the whole Lebron situation, but maybe we were a little to harsh on the King for this one.
Kyrie forced his trade to Celtics, promised a resign and then left for the Nets. He has arguably the most to prove this year, because even though he owns “The Shot”, we still don’t know if this kid can lead. Again, Irving a baller. But just how good can he be?
Lonzo Ball – New Orleans Pelicans
If you know anything about my Laker Fandom, you know that I think highly of Ball. I was happy we took him in the draft, but I’m still not he side of “nowhere close to a star”, whereas a few other benchers (@Andre Frye) believe Ball is already one of the leagues best PG’s. Ball can well…ball and has proven to be one of the better passers in the NBA, but when it comes to scoring efficiency, I haven’t seen all I need to see.
Lakers Fandom aside, Ball now has the single best situation out of anyone in the NBA in my opinion. A kid with Star like presence given the keys to a young franchise surrounded by not only his old teammates left and right, but two amazing rookies in Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes. Honestly, I see this move biting the Lakers in the ass, despite my strong, strong, strong, strong, strong, (did I say strong?) belief that Ball is no where near the player Kuzma is.
The Entire 76ers Team
So this one might get me yelled at, but if you know anything about my NBA fandom, I’m so sick and tired of the 76ers. The Process is years removed, and as we sit here saying “WeLl ThEY WeRe OnE THrEe AwaY FrOM BeATinG ThE RApTors” I really dont care, because this year there is no Butler. Yes, I know they signed Al Horford. Yes, Tobias Harris is only 26 (which is literally insane to me honestly) and yes, I love Embiiiiid. Personally, this team won’t break the bubble into the next tier as long as Ben Simmons is a complete liability. The lack of a jumper is a huge flag for me, especially when you talk about losing a stretch player as good as Redick. Redick played last year to give Ben Simmons an out for literally not having a 3 point shot. But hey, maybe he’ll win ROY this year. And if not, there’s always next season.
The Entire Golden State Warriors
Again, a team, I know. This one is a bit more like Kawhi to me though. The Warriors are the greatest basketball team my generation will see as an entire team, from top to bottom. They head into this season after losing Kevin Durant to the Nets and Cook to the Lakers (a small but quality off the bench move for them) and a few other pieces. They also will be without Klay Thompson for arguably the entire season after his torn ACL in the playoffs. They lost Iggy, a tried and true BEAST for this franchise and honestly, the entire NBA is licking their chops.
I say this all with a bit of a smile though, seeing as the Dubs still have the first unanimous MVP in Steph Curry (the goat shooter, not even a discussion) and Draymond Green, who whether you love him or hate him is an amazing player for this team year in and year out. I’m sure I’ll get a text from Knapps about that one, but it’s just flat out true. The Warriors also signed D-Lo fro the Nets on a max deal who should play next to Steph until Klay returns. That’s an extremely dangeRuss (see what I did there?) backcourt, and I can’t wait to see how they function together. That being said, can the Warriors prove they still sit on the top of the west? Doubtful, but I’ve learned not to count Curry out.