Assuming each person reading this article has at least a passing interest in professional basketball, preferably NBA basketball, you must feel overwhelmed with all of the signings and trades that have happened since commissioner Adam Silver announced in Brooklyn “with the first pick in the NBA Draft, the New Orleans Pelicans select Zion Williamson.”
So I, your trusty sports columnist, have decided to give you a brief synopsis of the movements that have given the league its current (but probably not permanent) configuration.
We will give each club a placement in one of three groups:
--“We have high hopes.” This group either has a young core they are building for the future.
--“We can see the Promised Land from afar.” This group has playoff aspirations and could win a playoff series or two.
--“We could grab the brass ring.” This elite group could actually win a championship.
So let’s talk about where your team (and mine) falls in at, shall we?
“We have high hopes.”
Orlando Magic: Very young core. Will be rebuilding for a while.
Phoenix Suns: Have a couple of pieces in Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, but still well away from playoff contention.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Getting John Belien to coach their young stars Collin Sexton and Darius Garland was a good call.
Charlotte Hornets: Losing star guard Kemba Walker was a tough blow, but the team has some nice young players including PJ Washington and Miles Bridges to help the building process.
New York Knicks: The Knicks have developing stars Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson to go along with a young core. The development of RJ Barrett is key.
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are still a ways off, but having Lauri Markannen and Wendell Carter Jr. helps the team along.
Minnesota Timberwolves: All-Star Karl Anthony-Towns is a force, but there’s not a lot else cooking in the Twin Cities right now.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Trading Paul George meant trading Russell Westbrook means there’s a complete rebuild on the horizon. Having potential star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, proven point guard Chris Paul and a ton of draft picks helps deaden the blow slightly.
Washington Wizards: The Wizards have an outstanding backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal and a young star in Rui Hachamura.
New Orleans Pelicans: President David Griffin absolutely fleeced the Lakers out of draft picks and three possible starters to go with Zion. They will be back soon.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies play super hard and have star rookie Ja Morant to go with impact rookie Jaren Jackson Jr.
Atlanta Hawks: No rookie played better in the second half of last year than Trae Young. The Hawks have a lot of young players to go with him.
Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin make a formidable duo on the blocks.
Dallas Mavericks: ROY Luka Doncic joins a healthy Kristaps Porzingis to begin the post-Dirk Nowitski era in big D.
Sacramento Kings: Led by potential all-star De’Aaron Fox, the Kings look to move up the ladder in a loaded Western Conference.
“We can see the promised land from afar.”
Miami Heat: Miami is set to be pretty good for a while, and if they add Westbrook they could take a giant leap forward.
Brooklyn Nets: The Nets signed stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. When Durant returns from injury, look out.
Golden State Warriors: With the Klay Thompson injury, the loss of Durant and a complete overhaul of the bench, look for the Warriors to be good but not great.
Indiana Pacers: Victor Oladipo and crew look to make a step up the ladder in the Eastern Conference, which is very possible.
Toronto Raptors: The Raptors have to replace Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and shooter Danny Green but do have MOP Pascal Siakim and floor general Kyle Lowry to begin defense of their crown.
San Antonio Spurs: Don’t sleep on the Spurs. If anyone can put together a team to compete for a championship, it’s Gregg Popovich.
“We could grab the brass ring.”
Houston Rockets: Clutch City has James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but if they can’t get on the same page it could be a drama-filled season.
Boston Celtics: They lost Kyrie, but gained All-Star Kemba Walker and still have talented wings Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, and Jaylen Brown. Adding center Enes Kanter and solidifying the bench were good moves, too.
Philadelphia 76ers: Philly has stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and shooting forward Tobias Harris. Adding power forward Al Horford was a big pickup. If the Sixers can find another guard that can produce and the bench plays well, they have a shot to win big as well.
Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers have a dominant backcourt in All-Star Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and an athletic big in Hassan Whiteside. If the Blazers can match their 53-win season and Western Conference semis appearance then they can, by all means, take the next step and win big.
Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets have a potential All-Star in guard Jamal Murray and a current All-Star in center Nikola Jokic. If the Nuggets get production from their other regulars, then best believe Denver can be a champion.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Deer are led by NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounpo and came within a favorable bounce of Kawhi Leonard’s jumper of going to the Finals. I think they make the next step in the East and make the Finals next June.
Utah Jazz: I really like this Jazz team. Adding star point guard Mike Conley Jr to budding superstar Donovan Mitchell and DPOY Rudy Gobert to a very solid cast could make the Jazz a serious contender in the West.
Los Angeles Clippers: Well, let’s look at ½ of the Staples Center home teams, the Clips. Adding Leonard and MVP finalist forward Paul George was titanic for them, but the trick will be filling out the roster around them to make them a winner.
Los Angeles Lakers: And the other ½ of the Staples Center tenants are the Lakers. They have Lebron James and Anthony Davis true. But they have added former All-Stars Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins to go with budding star Kyle Kuzma and a developing bench. The Lake Show could most definitely win it all.
So there you have it, basketball fans. A quick guide to the NBA summer. Of course, this is all liable to change, so enjoy this while it’s kind of relevant.
Shane Shackleford is a regional sports columnist from Speedwell, Tenn. You can follow him on KySportsStyle.com Magazine and A Sea of Blue, Facebook, and Twitter.