For two straight years, the NBA has been going through crazy summers. In 2018 it was LeBron moving to LA and Kawhi heading to Toronto. Just when everyone thought those moves were crazy, the 2019 offseason decided to one-up last year.
It started off with AD finally getting his way and going to the Lakers. There was a lot of insanity in between, including Kyrie and KD teaming up in Brooklyn. It ended when Kawhi made another move, heading to the Clippers and taking PG with him.
So, once again, this new NBA season is gearing up to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable ones in the history of the league. Get hyped (agian)! The NBA is back!
NBA basketball action back! The champs, Raptors open their defense against the Pelicans while the Lakers face their in-house rivals in the Clippers.
It’s only fitting that these four teams open the new season since they were also the center of attention in the offseason. The Raptors lost their Finals MVP to the Clippers while the Lakers acquired the Pelicans’ franchise player.
Those moves (as well as other crazy ones) brought the end of superteams. NBA fans will now be treated to the battle of Dynamic Duos with nearly each team sporting two All-Stars.
With that, here’s a look at superstars who switched teams, ranking how well they fit into their new squads.
6. Russell Westbrook – Houston Rockets
Among all the guys on this list, Russell Westbrook is probably the biggest question mark as to how he will fit inside the James Harden-centric offense of the Houston Rockets. Westbrook and Harden have been frontrunners for the MVP Award the past five seasons due to their ball-handling, shot-creating, and playmaking style of play – which automatically makes them both ball-dominant guards, a necessity in today’s modern game.
It could be argued they were teammates before with the Thunder for three years and this should work smoothly. But that was back in 2012. The game is so different that what worked then might not work now. Westbrook wasn’t a triple-double machine back then, and Harden was not the creator we know today.
The Rockets would take a dip every time Harden took the bench last season. It became increasingly clear that Chris Paul wasn’t his old Point God self anymore. Having a younger ball handler in Westbrook – who’s also proven to be healthier – might be what actually addresses this team’s primary need when Harden is taking a breather.
What is a given in this duo is they will have amazing chemistry together. Many still look back at that OKC team and all the things that they never were. What may be crystal clear right now is that there is a much, much better relationship with the Beard and the Brodie than the one Harden had with Paul. If the two can master a balanced give-and-take relationship, maybe they can finally bring Mike D’Antoni to his first NBA Finals and championship.
5. Paul George – LA Clippers
He finally came home to Los Angeles. Except it was to the Clippers.
At first glance, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard seem like a perfect fit, especially given the fact that the Klaw demanded the Clips trade for PG even before signing. But there might actually be a couple of things that is forgotten with all the hype and buzz that has surrounded this team.
PG flourished in Indiana because he was the man, the go-to-guy whenever the Pacers needed a big play. There was no partner in crime or superteam. He was all Mamba Mentality.
When he was traded to OKC, it was as if he returned to his rookie self, playing lost a lot of times, even taking stepback in production. With Russell Westbrook dominating the team, there were lots of times George became an afterthought in the whole scheme of the Thunder. This was especially true when it mattered most, the Playoffs.
People rave about how good this Clippers team will be defensively with the Leonard and George on the roster. They quickly forget however, it’s these guys who are coming in as the new guys to a Playoff team, not the other way around. It’s the Lous, Harrells, and Beverleys who actually molded this team into what it is today. So the adjustment will have to come from George and Leonard. That adjustment will be one of the first things people will look out for once the season tips-off.
4. Kyrie Irving – Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn was one of the most exciting teams to watch during least season. A lot of that energy was because of D’Angelo Russell. His flashy game and high energy was something that trickled down all the way to the end of the bench. It was a total opposite of how Kyrie Irving was with the Celts.
Now with the Nets, Irving gets another fresh start.
Irving might just be the older and better veteran this team needs after all the positive things a young guard like Russell introduced to the team last season. He’s been to deep playoff runs, huge games, even hit a clutch shot for the NBA championship. If Brooklyn really wants to reach the next level, they just had to get someone like irving.
The new faces in this team including Kyrie praised this organization’s culture that was rebuilt since the arrival of GM Sean Marks. It’s not farfetched to say they can make it deep in the postseason, especially with how Marks strengthened the bench bringing in talented veterans to mix with his young core.
With Kevin Durant out for the year, it will all boil down to Irving. The big questions is if he can bring the same energy Russell brought to the Nets last season. The skills are there, he just has to leave the drama back in Boston. Irving will find success long as he stays away from that “Earth is flat” mindset and actually treat his teammates like the family he says he came home to.
3. Kawhi Leonard – LA Clippers
Let’s get this straight right away. If there’s one guy in the world that propels this year’s Clippers team to a level they’ve never seen before defensively, it’s reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. It’s that defensive identity that they need to survive in the NBA Playoffs.
Leading a ragtag team of defensive minded-role players, Leonard may just be the superstar that brings this franchise to the promised land. They’ve never been past the Conference Semifinals. Ever.
Leonard did just that for Toronto last season. Anyone would be a fool again to doubt the effect of the Klaw.
Minus the fame and fortune of LeBron James, Leonard is just like the King in terms of how he elevates his teams. With his career accomplishments, Leonard is right up there with the best of the best. He was widely considered as the best player in the league last season.
The Clips lacked the angst, star power, and finishing punch when they pushed the Warriors to the limit in their First Round matchup last summer. With Leonard, they get all of that, plus his amazing instinct and physicality on the defensive side. Who knows, they might even have two of that at their disposal if Paul George comes back as an MVP-caliber player from his offseason injury.
If the Clippers really do get it together, the other 29 teams should watch out.
2. Anthony Davis – LA Lakers
After five arduous months, Anthony Davis finally had his wish fulfilled. For a star of his caliber it was all but inevitable before he found his way to one of the brightest and most glamorous cities of all, Los Angeles.
Barring any kind of injury, Davis has the potential to be the best player on the planet at any given time. This guy just does everything you could think of on both ends of the basketball floor. He has the smarts, the heart and the skills. What else could anyone ask for?
He could have chosen the other big cities like New York or his hometown Chicago. But it was in LA where he could win now more than ever. It only helps that LeBron James was also a Laker, ready to pair up with Davis.
In today’s NBA game, Davis is the guy every team wishes they had. Despite being a guard-centric league, it’s impossoble just can’t pass up on a guy who is as big, as athletic and as talented as Davis.
James had the time of his life on the court with Chris Bosh. He won another ring with Kevin Love by his side. With Davis wearing the same uniform, he actually gets someone better than those two. Combined. With him, the King gets the best teammate in his career.
There have been glimpses of the potential greatness of Davis, James individually and as a duo. It’s really just a matter of sustaining that high level of play and staying healthy for most of 82 games.
1. Jimmy Butler – Miami Heat
It’s not often that franchises find the perfect guy to pass the torch to, someone to bestow the “main guy” title after a great one goes off into the sunset. But for those who do find it, it’s like finding that perfect partner.
Jimmy Butler has always embodied the exact type of player the Miami Heat organization goes for. Driven, brutally honest, conditioned, and dedicated to the common cause. They are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to strength and conditioning, aided by one of the best administrative staff led by president, Pat Riley.
It was as if this pairing was in the making ever since Butler said he wanted out of Chicago. His vibe never really matched with the teams he’s played for, until now. His work ethic and insane drive to succeed is exactly what an organization like this needs, especially with the retirement of Dwyane Wade.
Butler is the new face of the Heat. In the same way Wade was for almost 15 seasons. Miami may not have the one-two punch other teams have, but Riley still did enough job to surround Butler with young players like Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro mixed in with experienced vets like Goran Dragic and James Johnson. The Heat are a team built to make a quiet, but solid run to the Playoffs.
Having a lone superstar like Butler is also advantageous in the wide-open East. Just like Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks last season, all that’s needed is a talented superstar and the right mix of role players. Who knows? Jimmy Buckets just might take them the furrthest they’ve ever been since the Lebron-Wade-Bosh era.
GET HYPED 2019