The 2019 NBA offseason was more active than almost any other free agency period in recent memory. Not only did a number of talented players find new teams via free agency, there were a number of blockbuster trades.
Teams like the Warriors and Raptors were weakened while teams like the Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans became much stronger. The wild turnover in the league should make for a wildly fun 2019-20 season. Here are a number of bold predictions about the coming year.
Kristaps Porzingis Plays In Less Than 40 Games
Despite missing all of last season with an ACL injury, Porzingis was still traded from the Knicks to the Mavericks in a blockbuster deal. Dallas hoped to create the next NBA super team by pairing Porzingis with Luca Doncic.
The Mavericks may be in for more hardship than they expect. In addition to the knee injury, the 7-3 superstar has had a litany of injuries over the course of his NBA career. Porzingis has to prove he can get through a healthy season before the Mavs can count on him.
Stephen Curry Is The League MVP
In addition to dropping the NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors, the Warriors also lost Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets and Klay Thompson to a serious knee injury. Thompson may return midseason and Golden State sign-and-traded for DeAngelo Russell over the offseason.
Unlike the previous few seasons, Stephen Curry will have to do more heavy lifting. As has been seen in his previous MVP years, he should be more than up to the task. Curry will have a season for the ages and take home the 2019-20 MVP.
The Chicago Bulls Are A Surprise Playoff Team
After the departures of stars like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the Chicago Bulls have undergone a slow rebuild. With draft picks like Lauri Markannan and Wendell Carter Jr. paying dividends, this will be the year the Bulls return to the playoffs.
In addition to Carter Jr. and Markannan, the team will also rely on scoring wing Zach Lavine and defensive stopper Otto Porter Jr. The team also signed solid point guard Tomas Satoransky and lottery pick Coby White in the offseason.
The Brooklyn Nets Will Not Make The Playoffs
The Brooklyn Nets were the big winners of the offseason after signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant, however, will miss most of it not all of the season recovering from ankle surgery. The team also signed declining center DeAndre Jordan to a big deal.
Irving will be replacing DeAngelo Russell, who was excellent last year. This prediction is guessing that the point guard will miss some time with injury. The Nets roster outside of Durant and Russell will struggle to stay at the top of the Eastern standings.
Rui Hachimura Is The Rookie Of The Year
There are some rookies entering the NBA that look like future stars including the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson and the Knicks’ RJ Barrett. The player that wins Rookie of the Year, though, is usually the guy that stays healthy and receives a ton of playing time.
The Wizards Rui Hachimura has a golden opportunity to log big minutes for a rebuilding team. After a number of successful seasons at Gonzaga, the Japanese born forward should be primed to take advantage of the opportunity.
DeAndre Ayton Becomes A Superstar
The Phoenix Suns drafted DeAndre Ayton with the first selection of the 2018 draft. The Suns were a terrible team, but Ayton was a significant contributor from day one.
He is poised to make a significant leap in year two. Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre both missed a ton of time for Phoenix last year. Regular health from them could provide Ayton with a big boost. The Suns also added Ricky Rubio, a slick passer who will get the big center plenty of opportunities for easy baskets.
The Harden And Westbrook Combo Is A Hit
The Houston Rockets made an all-in kind of move this offseason by adding triple-double machine Russell Westbrook to the squad. Detractors of the move say that both Westbrook and James Harden are too ball-dominant to be able to exist together.
The two have played together in the past (with the Thunder) and thrived, though. And that team also had Kevin Durant who required the ball quite a bit. Westbrook and Harden have both shown the capacity to mold their games for the best of the team and will do so again.
The Toronto Raptors Remain A Top 4 Team In The East
The Toronto Raptors had a devastating offseason. While they felt they had a good shot at retaining Kawhi Leonard, he ended up signing with the Clippers. The reigning champs spent most of their salary cap on retaining players from last year’s title.
Even without Leonard, the Raptors will still be in the mix for the Eastern Conference champion. Pascal Siakam looks like he is developing into a star and the team will be expecting a breakout from OG Anunoby.
LeBron Carries The Lakers To The NBA Finals
LeBron James took quite a gamble when he left the Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers. He joined a young team that failed to make the playoffs. Most of those young players were dealt for superstar Anthony Davis.
The Lakers were able to retain one young player, though, in burgeoning star, Kyle Kuzma. James, Kuzma, Davis and Danny Green should provide a powerful enough quartet for the team to make it through the tough NBA West and into the NBA Finals.
Brandon Clarke Is Another Rookie Revelation
Throughout the last number of years, a certain type of player falls under the draft radar, then succeeds in the league early on. Brandon Clarke fits that profile. While undersized, the 23-year-old showed legitimate NBA skills while at Gonzaga.
And Clarke did not take long to make the Memphis Grizzlies look smart for snapping him up with the 21st pick in the draft. Clarke was named the MVP of the NBA’s Summer League after averaging 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Mitchell Robinson Leads The League In Blocks
Not a lot went right for the Knicks during the 2018-19 season. Even less went right for New York during the offseason as they struck out on multiple free agents. The Knicks, though, do have Mitchell Robinson.
The 2nd round center was a revelation for the team in ’18-’19 throwing down ferocious slams and blocking every shot in sight. Robinson is penciled in as the team’s starting center for the next season and should block more shots than anyone with the additional playing time.
Trae Young Averages 25 Points And 10 Assists A Game
The Atlanta Hawks made a bit of a controversial move when they gave up the chance at drafting Luca Doncic to nab Trae Young. Young worked hard at proving the team right during his rookie season by averaging 19 points and 8 assists a game.
The Hawks, with future star John Collins and rookies DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish look to significantly improve in 2019. The additional support should make it easier for Young to score more easily and dish out more dimes.
Domantas Sabonis Leads The League In Rebounds
The Indiana Pacers were surprisingly one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference last year. The team depended less on superstars than a number of good players simply doing their job.
Domantas Sabonis is one of those good players. While the son of Arvydas only played around 24 minutes a game last year, he still grabbed 9.2 rebounds per game. With a minute total closer to 30 minutes this year, he will pull down the most boards in the game.
Justise Winslow Is The 6th Man Of The Year
Ever since the Miami Heat drafted him out of Duke in 2015, there have been major expectations for Justise Winslow. Some players, however, take time to reach their potential.
That’s not to say that Winslow has not been a useful player for the Heat, he certainly has been. But with multiple departures, he will have an expanded role for the 2019-20 Heat. He will take advantage of the role change and win the 6th Man of the Year Award.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Wins Defensive Player Of The Year
Since he entered the league in 2013, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been putting awards on his mantle. The biggest award came last season when he won the league’s MVP Award. He won’t repeat, but he will take home another prestigious award this season.
The Greek Freak’s extreme length makes him a tremendous defensive stopper. He was rewarded for his fine work on that end of the court by making the NBA’s All-Defense First Team. He’ll take the next step this year by being named the league’s best defender.
Chris Paul Spends The Entire Season In Oklahoma City
Veteran point guard Chris Paul was sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Russell Westbrook trade. It was expected that Paul would soon be shipped out to a team with a better chance at contention.
The Thunder, though, still have a lot of talent. The team features Steven Adams at center, promising Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at the 2, and Danilo Gallinari and Andre Roberson on the wings. Once the season begins and Oklahoma starts winning some games, Paul will stick around for a playoff run.
Ben Simmons Makes At Least 20 Three Pointers
The Philadelphia 76ers are a team on the verge of competing for a championship. The Sixers lost Jimmy Butler in the offseason but were able to replace him with Josh Richardson and Al Horford.
The Philadelphia season will come down to two things: Joel Embiid’s health and Ben Simmons jump shot. Simmons famously didn’t make any three-pointers last season, shooting only six of them. After working on it in the offseason, Simmons will be more aggressive with his shot this year and can a number of threes.
Rodney Hood And Hassan Whiteside Work Out In A Big Way For The Trailblazers
After a successful 2018-19 campaign, the Trailblazers looked to add to their Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum core. Portland took a chance on two talented players in Rodney Hood who they traded for during the offseason and Hassan Whiteside, acquired in the offseason.
While the two players have struggled to reach their sizable potential, the talent remains. The Blazers will take on the Lakers in the Western Conference finals. Their journey to that big series will largely be due to Whiteside’s defense and Hood’s shooting.
The Jazz Don’t Make The Playoffs
The Western conference got significantly more crowded during the offseason. The Clippers added Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers welcomed Anthony Davis and New Orleans acquired Zion Williamson, Derrick Favors, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram.
With all the talent coming into the West, some team will have to fall out of the playoffs. The Jazz may have added Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovich, and Jeff Green, but those additions won’t be quite enough in the loaded West.
The Boston Celtics Win The 2020 Title
The Boston Celtics will take on a much different look than in previous years. Out the door went stalwarts Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Onto the Boston roster came Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter and 2019 draft pick Romeo Langford.
The team is going to be much different, but they are also going to be rugged. Thanks to scoring from Walker and Gordon Hayward as well as hard-nosed play from Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown, the team will ride their new roster to the title.