NBA Season Preview


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LeBron James and Anthony Davis’s much anticipated first season together is about to begin, and getting a championship for the Los Angeles Lakers is the only thing on their mind (and maybe Taco Tuesday).

The 2019-20 NBA season is underway, and teams will begin to battle for placement in their respectful divisions and conferences. The Neersyde is here to give you its thoughts on the favorites, contenders, and underdogs, as well as the predictions for the awards and who will take home the Larry O’Brien trophy this June.

  1. LA Clippers

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    After winning a championship with the Toronto Raptors last season, Kawhi Leonard is looking to repeat with his new team, the Los Angeles Clippers.

New Clipper Kawhi Leonard had an amazing playoffs last year, averaging 31 points per game on his way to leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title. Now he also has MVP candidate Paul George, another great scorer and defender,  joining him in LA.. The Clippers also have tons of depth, such as Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, and Montrezl Harrell. “Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are two of the best players,” said eighth grader Andrew Lappin. “They’re an all-around strong team.”

  1. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking for more hardware this season as he tries to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA Finals this season.

Winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award last year, Giannis Antetokounmpo is pretty much unstoppable. After the Bucks won the most games in the league last season, they fell short of the Finals, losing to the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. Giannis has a good supporting line-up, including Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Brook Lopez. They did trade starting shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Pacers, which should leave a noticeable hole at shooting guard for them.

  1. LA Lakers

The Lakers had one of the most interesting offseasons of any team. They traded for superstar power forward Anthony Davis, almost signed Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, and signed a few quality starters and bench players such as Danny Green, Dwight Howard, and Avery Bradley. The Lakers are guaranteed to be a contender in the Western Conference.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers have a talented team this year that should allow them to go pretty far in the playoffs. They have superstar center Joel Embiid, a good shooter and wing defender in Josh Richardson (traded from the Heat for Jimmy Butler), floor general and slashing point guard Ben Simmons (who finally made a three pointer), a great defending power forward in Al Horford, and an all-around scorer in Tobias Harris.

  1. Houston Rockets

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    Having two former MVPs (Russell Westbrook and James Harden) on the same team is only part one of the Houston Rockets’s plans. Bringing a championship home is part two.

James Harden had one of the best statistical seasons in NBA history last year, averaging 36 points per game. Along with that, the Rockets traded for one of the best point guards in the league, Russell Westbrook, making this a fun backcourt to watch. They also have center Clint Capela, shooting guard Eric Gordon, and power forward PJ Tucker.

  1. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets were by far the most surprising team last season. Led by superstar center Nikola Jokic and rising star point guard Jamal Murray, Denver also has the most depth in the NBA, including shooting guard Gary Harris, power forward Paul Millsap, small forward Will Barton, shooting guard Malik Beasley, and point guard Monte Morris.

  1. Utah Jazz

The Jazz will be another entertaining show this year, and may be a top three seed as well. The Jazz have a rising star in shooting guard in Donovan Mitchell, back-to-back reigning defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert, newly acquired point guard Mike Conley, and sharpshooting small forward Bogdan Bogdanovic who was acquired via free agency. They also have Joe Ingles, Jeff Green, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Ed Davis.

  1. Golden State Warriors

The Warriors have one of the most powerful dynasties in NBA history. After this offseason, though, they are starting to show some holes. Klay Thompson, one of the best shooting guards in the NBA, suffered a torn ACL in last year’s Finals. This is in addition to Kevin Durant leaving for the Nets via a sign and trade. Durant was another key player that contributed immensely to Golden State’s run of five straight Finals. Replacing Durant is All-Star point guard/shooting guard D’Angelo Russell. They also have defensive anchor and team leader Draymond Green to round out their team. 

  1. Portland Trailblazers

The Trailblazers did not change their team to much this offseason, only adding center Hassan Whiteside and shooting guard Kent Bazemore via trades. They still have their core players which include superstar point guard Damian Lillard, shooting guard CJ McCollum, and center Jusuf Nurkic who will miss the start of the season because of a broken leg he suffered last year. 

  1. Boston Celtics

The Celtics are another team with a variety of young players, including guards/forwards Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart. They also have veteran team leaders like All-star point guard Kemba Walker, small forward Gordan Hayward, and center Enes Kanter. Expect the Celtics to be a top four seed in the East.

  1. Toronto Raptors

Because of the departure of Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors are not expected to be a Finals contender this year. However, they are still a good team that should be in the playoffs again due to rising star power forward Pascal Siakam and All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. They also have point guard/shooting guard Fred VanVleet and centers Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.

  1. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers will start the season without their star shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who suffered a ruptured quad last January. This offseason, they traded for point guard Malcolm Brogdon from the Milwaukee Bucks, signed shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, and traded for small forward TJ Warren from the Suns. They also have rising stars Myles Turner (center) and Domantas Sabonis (power forward) to round out their team.

  1. Brooklyn Nets

The Nets had one of the best offseasons of any team this summer. However, superstar small forward Kevin Durantwill missed the entire season with a torn Achilles he suffered in Game 5 of the Finals last year as a member of the Warriors. The Nets also landed superstar point guard Kyrie Irving who spent the last two seasons with the Boston Celtics. The Nets also have solid depth with center DeAndre Jordan, small forward Joe Harris, point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, shooting guard Caris Levert, and center Jarrett Allen. It will be interesting to see how the Nets perform this season, and if they improve at all from their last season when they were the sixth seed in the East when they were the sixth seed in the East.

  1. Miami Heat

The Heat made one of the most unexpected moves this offseason by acquiring All-Star small forward and shooting guard Jimmy Butler. They also drafted rookie shooting guard Tyler Herro, who had an impressive summer league and preseason, especially for a rookie. The Heat also have rising stars Justise Winslow (point guard/small forward) and Bam Adebayo (center). To go along with these players are veterans Goran Dragic (point guard), Kelly Olynyk (power forward), and Meyers Leonard (power forward and center).

  1. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs have many decent players players, both young and old. They have power forward Lamarcus Aldridge, who is a monster in the paint, as well as All-Star small forward DeMar Derozan. To top it off, the team is coached by the legendary Gregg Popovich, who is regarded as one of the best coaches of all time. They also have versatility among rising star point guard Dejounte Murray, shooting guard Bryn Forbes, point guard and shooting guard Derrick White, small forward Rudy Gay, center Jakob Poeltl, and point guard Patty Mills.

  1. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks are another up and coming team that will be extremely fun to watch this year. They have Rookie of the Year shooting guard/small forward Luka Doncic and AAll–star power forward Kristaps Porzingis. They also have solid starters and bench players such as Tim Hardaway, Jr., Delon Wright, Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, JJ Barea, and Boban Marjonavic.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans

Unfortunately, the Pelicans will open up the season without star rookie power forward and number one draft pick Zion Williamson. He tore his meniscus and will be out for six to eight weeks. The story of the offseason for the Pelicans was trading Anthony Davis to the Lakers. In return, they got young players like point guard Lonzo Ball, small forward Brandon Ingram, shooting guard Josh Hart, and a plethora of draft picks. They also have veterans like JJ Redick, Derrick Favors, and Jrue Holiday. 

  1. Orlando Magic

The Magic made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2012 before losing in five games to the Toronto Raptors in the opening round. Getting back there may be a tough feat, but they do have All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, rising star power forward Aaron Gordon, shooting guard Evan Fournier, and shooting guard Terrence Ross. They also have young pieces such as center Mohamed Bamba, point guard Markelle Fultz, and small forward Jonathan Issac.

  1. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons have been in the middle of the pack for many years now. They have All-Star power forward Blake Griffin and All-sStar center Andre Drummond to complete their backcourt. They also have point guards Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose, shooting guard Luke Kennard, and rookie small forward/power forward Sekou Doumbouya. 

  1. Sacramento Kings

The Kings are another young team that may not go far, but they should delight their fans with their solid play and fast tempo. They have rising stars De’Aaron Fox (point guard), Buddy Hield (shooting guard), and Marvin Bagley III (power forward) who is out for four to six weeks with a fractured thumb. They also have veterans such as small forward Harrison Barnes, center Dewayne Dedmon, and power forward Nemanja Bejilica. 

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves were expected to be frontrunners for point guard D’Angelo Russell this offseason, which could have put their team into the playoffs in a very crowded Western Conference. However, RUssell signed with the Warriors. The Timberwolves still have superstar center Karl Anthony Towns, small forwards Andrew Wiggins and Robert Covington, point guard Jeff Teague, and rookie shooting guard Jarrett Culver.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Some people viewed the Thunder’s offseason as terrible, but others have viewed it as one that built their foundation for a new era of the franchise. They traded point guard Russell Westbrook to the Rockets, and small forward Paul George to the LA Clippers. In return for Westbrook, they received point guard Chris Paul and four first round picks, two of which are pick swaps. In return for George, they received point guard Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, power forward Danillo Gallinari, and five first round picks, two of these were pick swaps as well. Besides these players, they also have point guard Dennis Schroeder and center Steven Adams.

  1. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are another young and up-and-coming team with rising stars Trae Young (point guard) and John Collins (power forward). They also have rookies such as small forward De’Andre Hunter  and shooting guard/small forward Cameron Reddish. The Hawks may not make the playoffs this year, but they are definitely a team that can do some damage in the years to come.

  1. Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are another team that may not make the playoffs this year, but have a bright future ahead. Their main additions this offseason were signing point guard Tomas Satoransky, drafting point guard Coby White, and signing power forward Thaddeus Young. They still have shooting guard Zach Lavine, power forward Lauri Markkanen, center Wendell Carter, Jr., and small forward Otto Porter, Jr.

  1. Washington Wizards

The Wizards’ main goal of the offseason was completed just before the start of the season: re-signing All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal. All-Star point guard John Wall is already out for the season with a torn Achilles, so the return of Beal was essential. To go along with Beal, the Wizards have good depth with rookie small forward/power forward Rui Hachimura, center Thomas Bryant, point guards Ish Smith and Isaiah Thomas, and power forward Davis Bertans.

  1. Phoenix Suns

The Suns finally have a decent point guard after signing former Jazz star Ricky Rubio. Even after this signing, though, their chances of earning a spot in the playoffs are still slim. The Suns also have rising star shooting guard Devin Booker, center DeAndre Ayton (suspended 25 games for violating the league’s anti-drug policy), small forward Kelly Oubre, power forward Dario Saric, and shooting guard/small forward Mikal Bridges. 

  1. New York Knicks

Going into free agency this summer, the Knicks had two max slots for big name players, such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. It did not go as planned, but they did sign many quality starters and bench pieces. Some of these players were power forward Julius Randle, small forward/power forward Marcus Morris, and shooting guard/small forward RJ Barrett, who was drafted with the third pick this summer. They also have many young players such as point guard Dennis Smith, Jr., small forward Kevin Knox, and center Mitchell Robinson. Being a Knicks fan, eighth grader Zach Neidoff  has high hopes for his team and is excited to watch them this year. “I think (the Knicks) will do very well with the signing of Julius Randle and the drafting of RJ Barrett,” said Neidoff. “It looks like a good squad.”

  1. Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies went into full rebuild mode after trading 34 year-old All-Star center Marc Gasol at the trade deadline and 32 year-old point guard Mike Conley before the draft. They drafted point guard Ja Morant and power forward Brandon Clarke this summer, re-signed center Jonas Valanciunas, and acquired small forward Jae Crowder as  part of the Mike Conley trade. They have other young players like shooting guard Dillon Brooks and power forward Jaren Jackson, Jr. 

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers

After LeBron signed with the Lakers last summer, the Cavs entered full rebuild mode. They have sophomore point guard/shooting guard Collin Sexton, power forward Kevin Love, center Tristan Thompson, and rookie point guard Darius Garland who was taken with the fourth pick in the draft. They also have power forward/center Larry Nance, Jr. and shooting guard Jordan Clarkson coming off the bench. The Cavs are planning to recreate their own version of Portland guard Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum with Garland and Sexton. It will be interesting to see how this experiment plays out this season and in the years to come.

  1. Charlotte Hornets

Although considered as one of the worst teams in the league going into this season, the Hornets have some solid, young players worth watching this year. Their roster includes point guard Terry Rozier (acquired in a sign and trade for Kemba Walker with the Celtics), shooting guard Malik Monk, small forward Miles Bridges, and rookie power forward PJ Washington. Other than these players, do not expect the Hornets to accomplish much this season.

Joey Tomassetti’s Picks:

Championship Pick – I think that the Los Angeles Clippers will defeat the Philadelphia 76ers in six games in the NBA Finals this year. This is my pick because I believe that these are the two most talented and well-rounded teams in the NBA, making it the perfect way to round out the 2019-20 season. Both teams are star studded and have tons of depth. Center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons headline the 76ers, and small forward Kawhi Leonard and shooting guard/small forward Paul George lead the Clippers.


MVP – Giannis Antetokounmpo 

  • Giannis will repeat as MVP this year because the Bucks lost one of their main scorers in Malcolm Brogdon. This means that Giannis will have to have an even better season than he did last year. Therefore, Giannis will put up unbelievable numbers and there will be no way that he cannot win MVP.

Rookie of the Year – Ja Morant

  • Ja Morant will in rookie of the year because he will be “the guy” this year on the Memphis Grizzlies, with the offense running through and around him. He will also step into a leadership role this year for this young team.

Defensive Player of the Year – Joel Embiid

  • Joel Embiid will win defensive player of the year because the players around him make up one of the best defensive teams in the league, and this will positively impact his own defensive play as well. 

Most Improved – Jayson Tatum

  • Jayson Tatum will win most improved because he had a great preseason, and he will play better with Kemba Walker than he did with Kyrie Irving.

Sixth Man of the Year – Lou Williams

  • After winning sixth man of the year for a record-tying third time (former NBA player Jamal Crawford also has three), Lou Williams will break the record this year. I also believe that it will be a close race with him barely beating his own teammate, center Montrezl Harrell, and point guard Spencer Dinwiddie of the Nets.

Coach of the Year – Doc Rivers

  • With the Clippers acquiring two superstars this summer in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, it would be hard for them to not to contend in the Western Conference, nevermind the entire league. Doc Rivers is also one of the best coaches in the NBA, making the Clippers a definite contender this season.

Joseph DePaulis’s Picks:

Championship Pick- The Los Angeles Clippers will beat the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games, and it will come this close because both teams have at least one or two All-Star that will dramatically change the outcome of the game. The Clippers have small forward and shooting guard Kawhi Leonard, who at times cannot miss a shot, as well as power and small forward Paul George. The Bucks, similarly, have power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is unstoppable in the paint, in addition to many others.


MVP – Kawhi Leonard

  • He will win the Most Valuable Player award since he can control a whole game entirely on his own, both offensively and defensively. Behind Kawhi stands Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is another outstanding player that can dominate both sides of the court.

Rookie of the Year – Tyler Herro

  • Herro will win Rookie of the Year because he had a very successful past few weeks, averaging 14 points per game, and it is no doubt that he will improve as the season goes on. Not far behind is Zion Williamson, who also had a terrific pre-season, but is currently sidelined by injury.

Defensive Player of the Year – Draymond Green

  • Although it is a close race with Joel Embiid, Green is above all when it comes to defense due to his physical and aggressive style. He is the primary reason why the Warriors are successful at preventing the opposing team from pulling ahead. Anthony Davis, due to his size and speed, is another candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year.

Most Improved – Justice Winslow

  • Point guard and small forward Justice Winslow has greatly improved since last year. His average points, assists, and field goal attempts per game doubled since the 2018-19 season, and it will most likely continue to increase as the year progresses. 

Sixth Man of the Year – Lou Williams

  • Since he has won the award three times already, Williams will most likely win it again, setting the record for most Sixth Man of the Year awards of any player in NBA history. If he does not, his closest contender is his own teammate, Montrezl Harrell. 

Coach of the Year – Doc Rivers

  • Due to the Clippers’ expected success in the playoffs, Rivers will take home Coach of the Year. This is also because his knowledge and leadership is above average, especially in the playoffs. Standing behind him is Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra, who has similar characteristics. Both coaches have the ability to take an average team to the playoffs.