NBA season preview – Energy rankings and breakout candidates for all 30 groups

NBA season preview - Power rankings and breakout candidates for all 30 teams

It seems like LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers hoisted the Larry O & # 39; Brien Trophy as champions in the Orlando bubble two and a half months ago.

Oh wait a minute. That's exactly what happened.

Yes, after just 72 days, NBA basketball is back!

Are the Lakers banned from another title or could a reshuffled franchise like the LA Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, or Brooklyn Nets catch them? Will consecutive MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has just signed his maximum extension, deliver a ring to the Milwaukee Bucks?

Here's what you need to know about the competitors, pretenders, and every team in between before a 2020-21 season like no other.

Note: Our NBA Power Rankings are based on which team voters (a group of 40+ reporters, insiders, and editors) believe they will occupy a higher position in the 2020-21 season. Title odds and overall winnings over / under were provided by Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.

Zach Lowe rates all 30 teams top to bottom

Jump to a team:

When we last saw her …
The Lakers were the last team to stand in the bubble to win the franchise's 17th title, while LeBron James took home his fourth Finals MVP award for his fourth championship. L.A. was able to revise its roster to make re-run seem feasible, if not inevitable.

Win-loss projections

Lakers in NBArank

Outbreak Candidate: Kyle Kuzma
With a three-year $ 40 million extension completed two days before the season started, Kuzma shouldn't have anything to fear. He has his ring, he has his contract, and now in the fourth year the only thing left to do is improve his game. Kuzma, 25, was the only young capital the Lakers held onto in the Anthony Davis trade, and now he will grow alongside Davis, 27, for years to come.



Dave McMenamin describes the path to a possible consecutive championship run for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The linchpin for 2020-21: How long can LeBron go on like this?

James will turn 36 this month when he starts his 18th season in the league, and while he's showing valuable little signs of decline – he finished second in the MVP vote – no one is fighting Father Time forever.

"Listen to my body, my body will tell me where I am at this point and just listen, that's what it's about," James said when asked how he is going with his health this season. "I'll be very smart. We're a marathon team, we understand that, we're not in the sprint."

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Therein lies the crux of the problem for LA: So much of the Lakers' success last season had to do with James working hard to set the standard from day one of his pairing with Davis. While the Lakers certainly want to get the most out of James' playoff time, will they lose the magic formula that worked so well when he wears off into the regular season this time around?

After all, James felt that a two-year extension of $ 85 million this off-season was initially a recognition of his basketball mortality – he took the guaranteed money on the line rather than continuing to bet on himself with short-term deals to Maximize You his earning potential as it had been his practice.

Could he be ready to blow off the gas? If so, do the Lakers have enough to keep championship form without James in elite form all the time?

– Dave McMenamin

When we last saw her …
Although the Bucks ended with the best record for the second straight season and had high hopes of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974, they were overwhelmed by the heat in the second round. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who worsened his right ankle injury in Game 4 of this series, watched the end of the Bucks season from the bench.

Win-loss projections

Dollars in NBArank

Outbreak candidate: Donte DiVincenzo

The third year rifle guard was almost in Sacramento, but the failed trade with the kings could be a boon in disguise. DiVincenzo missed most of his rookie year with a foot injury, starting in 24 of 66 games for Milwaukee last season. Now, probably in a starting role, its output should increase with the new Bucks acquisition Jrue Holiday in the background.



Stephen A. Smith reacts to Giannis Antetokounmpo signing his Supermax deal and what that means for the bucks.

Hub for 2020-21: Has Milwaukee done enough this off-season?

The elephant has left the room: Antetokounmpo will be staying in Milwaukee long term, but will that decision lead to a title?

The bucks were dominant in the last two seasons, but did not reach the final. Now Milwaukee is confident there is stronger support for the Greek freak. The 26-year-old is entering the prime of his career with a second MVP campaign in a row and being named Defensive Player of the Year. The Bucks are hoping former All-Star Jrue Holiday is the missing piece.

"I feel like this year, to be honest, I feel like we have that extra toughness," said Holiday during the training camp. "I'm not saying they didn't have it before, but I think with myself here, with my attention to detail in how I play defense, I really just think we can get over this hump."

From day one of training, Bucks trainer Mike Budenholzer noticed that Holiday was tough on both ends of the floor. All-star swingman Khris Middleton is also motivated by the disappointment of the last two seasons and wants to help the Bucks get over the hill as they realize that their time slot for the title hunt is there.

– Eric Woodyard

When we last saw her …
Doc Rivers was the head coach, Montrezl Harrell was the Clippers' sixth Man of the Year, and Paul George shot a 3 off the side of the backboard. The Clippers led 3-1 to Denver and Kawhi Leonard challenged the team's basketball IQ.

Win-loss projections

Clippers in NBArank

Outbreak candidate: Ivica Zubac

Zubac is heading into its fifth season but there could be more options for the big man in 2020-21. Rivers preferred to finish games with Harrell or JaMychal Green at 5, which Zubac limited to 18.4 minutes per game. Rivers, Harrell and Green are gone. Lue has already stated that Serge Ibaka will be his launch center. But Zubac, who averaged 9.1 points and 7.2 rebounds in the playoffs, has shown some relationship with Leonard and could play more, especially with the Clippers monitoring Ibaka's minutes to keep the veteran fresh for the postseason.



Stephen A. Smith says Kawhi Leonard needs to do more for the Clippers than just his stats on the pitch, given what the organization has given up for him.

The linchpin for 2020-21: Can a new trainer unlock the Clippers chemistry?

The Clippers were title contenders on paper last season. But they broke up in the bladder due to a lack of chemistry, mental hardship, and guidance. Instead of going backwards with the same core, Steve Ballmer decided to replace Rivers with Lue.

Can Lue improve the team's chemistry? Last season's lack of cohesion wasn't just due to Rivers. There have been injuries and disruptions like the pandemic and three key players temporarily exiting the bladder. But Rivers still couldn't get the group of gritty vets who had surpassed the previous season to compete with new stars Leonard and George and new veterans like Marcus Morris Sr. While the team lost Harrell and Green in the free agency, they traded for Luke Kennard and signed Ibaka, who is familiar with Leonard in the championship and was supposed to improve the chemistry of the locker rooms.

Lue's no easy task: making the team more accountable, improving strategy in the game, and doing everything under immense pressure to win a title in a rushed training camp. If they suffer another disappointing playoff ending, the Clippers will have no more excuses and Leonard will have a player option in his contract for 2021-22.

– Ohm Youngmisuk

When we last saw her …
The networks made the playoffs in the bubble – they just didn't look like they do now. Using a patchwork roster, they were swept by the Raptors in the opening round. But those were the networks of that time, and these are the networks today. That version didn't have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. This one does.

Win-loss projections

Networks in NBArank

Outbreak Candidate: Bruce Brown

The Nets are looking for young players to become effective role-players alongside their superstar duo, and Brown seems like a potential hitter. He's a tough, physical defender who doesn't need the ball that much, which is a good requirement for this squad.



Malika Andrews chronicles the litany of changes the Nets have seen from roster changes to manager changes in recent years, and shares insights into how they're planning to bring an NBA title to Brooklyn.

The linchpin for 2020-21: You have to watch TV … on and next to the square

With Durant and Irving running the Nets' locker room, it's not hard to imagine some. Let's be polite and say interesting things come up. We have already seen Irving take a brief stand on media policy, which he quickly gave in and resumed his responsibilities.

There will be some noise around this team, but the point is to always try to focus on the signal. It was already clear last season what kind of firepower this group had, and every night they could absolutely make the NBA shine. Plus, add in a little trade rumor drama and you've got the perfect mix for a flammable time of year. The James Harden chatter doesn't go that fast, and yet the networks weren't too shy about wanting to add a third All-Star player to their group.

The Nets are one of the most intriguing teams this season for a variety of reasons – first and foremost, basketball should be very good – but if you like off-court drama and subplots this is the team to follow.

– Royce Young

When we last saw her …
The heat became the bubble's favorites, spawning one of the most unexpected postseason runs in recent league history. Jimmy Butler led the Heat in just two games of a championship before falling to LeBron and the Lakers.

Win-loss projections

Heat in the NBArank



Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman wonder why the heat is being overlooked as the top team in the league.

Outbreak candidate: Bam Adebayo

Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson made big leaps in the run of the heat, but the player ready to step into the superstar is the man Miami recently inked to maximum expansion: Adebayo. The big man from Heat had an All-Star season a year ago, but team-mates and coaches believe he can be even better.

The linchpin for 2020-21: no bubble, no problem?

The big question that hovers over the heat: can you play as well outside the bubble as inside? The answer revolves around how much of a final hangover they have to deal with year round. Butler said at the beginning of the training camp that many teams are dealing with similar problems on the way into a new, shortened year. But the heat brought things to an even deeper physical and emotional level than most.

The heat prides itself on not using excuses, but its collective energy can be seen year round. They are motivated to prove that they can be one of the elite teams in the league, but it's difficult for any team to refuel the tank after emptying it like the heat. Butler has the mental toughness to carry the team for stretches alongside Adebayo, but he'll need more help than at any other point in his career as the Heat tries to manage his minutes and maneuver through another unprecedented season.

– Nick Friedell

When we last saw her …
The Celtics haven't had enough to return to the NBA finals for the first time in ten years. Instead, they lost to the Heat in six games in the Eastern Conference finals. Boston were arguably the more talented team, but the combination of injuries to Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward and Bam Adebayo punishing Boston inside was enough to send the Celtics home.

Win-loss projections

Celtics in NBArank

Outbreak Candidate: Jaylen Brown

With Hayward now in Charlotte and Walker out with an injured left knee earlier in the season, the Celtics need Brown to continue his rise to a true blue star on the wing. Brown could have been an All-Star last season; Boston would love to see him remove any doubt about such conversations this year. If Brown can do that, Boston will be fine – even after losing Hayward.



Scoop Jackson asks if the Celtics have done enough with their roster to become real contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Hub for 2020-21: How big is the problem with Walker's balky knee?

There is no doubt the Celtics did the right thing by signing Walker as a free agent last summer. After all the rigors of the Kyrie Irving era, Walker brought much-needed calm and stability to the locker room. And when he was healthy, he took a lot of hits – although that also came with an understanding and willingness to turn your back on Jayson Tatum and Brown.

Now, however, Walker has nearly a full calendar year worth of knee problems – which will pause him through 2021 and possibly several weeks before he is fully powered up and ready to go. Still, Boston will be fine if Walker's recovery period after a stem cell injection and 12-week strengthening program for his left knee gets him ready for the playoffs. With a healthy walker, Boston has a chance to repeat its success from last season. Boston has a millstone deal on its books with an injured Walker – and a far lower ceiling than he'd like.

– Tim Bontemps

When we last saw her …
The Sixers were just happy to see the 2019-20 season behind them after being beaten by rival Celtics in the opening round. Head coach Brett Brown was fired the next day and eventually replaced by Doc Rivers, while Daryl Morey was later put in charge of the front office and again set a new course for the franchise.

Win-loss projections

76ers in NBArank

Outbreak Candidate: Joel Embiid

It's strange to say that considering how much success he's already had, but the table is set for Embiid to have an absolutely massive season. Rivers could be the trainer who unlocks it. The Sixers have created a list around him that is supposed to provide all the clearance that Embiid needs. He must be frustrated that he didn't form an All-NBA team last season. He is capable of being the best player in the world and winning both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season if he puts it all together.



Scoop Jackson shares the failures of the '76 and the changes they made to usher in a new era in Philly beyond The Process.

The pivotal point for 2020-21: All eyes on Embiid and Simmons … again

The biggest question in Philadelphia for years has been: Can Embiid and Ben Simmons play together? This year is no different.

What is different, however, is the extent of the question. This season really feels like a referendum on the future of this all-star partnership. Morey has spoken at length about bringing Philadelphia back to where it was a few years ago when the Sixers had three shooters around Simmons and Embiid and they completely wiped out teams when those two shared the word.

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Philadelphia has steadily moved away from these lineups over the past couple of seasons, and the result has been the team's two stars playing worse and worse together.

Now the Sixers have put such a team back on the field. With Seth Curry, Danny Green and Tobias Harris, Simmons and Embiid should have plenty of space to work. Rivers has talked about using them together in pick and rolls. Everything feels ready to finally really answer the question of whether these two are compatible and whether another question will be asked in Philadelphia next season.

– Bontemps

When we last saw her …
A limping Jamal Murray and the Nuggets had run out of comeback magic and watched the Lakers win the Western Conference crown. The Nuggets celebrated two historic 3-1 comebacks against Jazz and Clippers as Murray became a playoff hero alongside Star Center Nikola Jokic.

Win-loss projections

Nuggets in NBArank

Outbreak Candidate: Michael Porter Jr.

Porter exploded as a starter in the bubble seeding games, gaining valuable playoff experience against LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Now Porter has every opportunity to prove the nuggets have a big three.



Royce Young delves into the young core of the nuggets and whether they can take that next step and fight for a championship.

The linchpin for 2020-21: The comeback kids have a goal on their backs

The nuggets arrived early in the Western Conference finals after stunning the Clippers. But now the young nuggets are playing with the expectations of the championship and cannot hide in an even more competitive West. You can't step back and suffer disappointment as the spotlight is on Murray who has increased his play in the playoffs and has to consistently play like a star this season. Jokic also needs to keep improving his eclectic all-NBA play.

The nuggets can't be as inconsistent as they were in recent regular times. You will now have teams shooting at you every night. After Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig left at the free agency, the Nuggets lost a lot of core glue and defense.

Michael Malone still has vets like Will Barton, Paul Millsap, JaMychal Green, Gary Harris and Monte Morris to lean on, but the head coach has many new faces like Facundo Campazzo to incorporate and he needs to put more trust in younger ones as well unproven players like Porter Jr. and Bol Bol.

– Youngmisuk

When we last saw her …
The blazers were one of the bubble favorites, and Damian Lillard took on all comers with 40-foot bombs. They took Game 1 from the Lakers and looked dangerous as a real playoff Cinderella until Lillard injured his knee and ended Portland's season. The Lakers have won four straight wins and the Blazers left the bubble looking ahead to this season where they will hopefully be healthy, deeper and built to compete on the upper level of the West.

Win-loss projections

Trail blazer in the NBArank

Outbreak Candidate: Gary Trent Jr.

Trent had a breakout bubble, and with confidence building and teammates looking for shots, he was poised for a big season as a 3-and-D wing. The blazers are deeper in position with the additions of Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr., but Trent could play a significant role for Portland.



The Trail Blazers hope to do better on the defensive with Derrick Jones Jr. and Robert Covington.

Hub for 2020-21: How long is Portland running back?

The Trail Blazers have been a picture of stability in the West for the past decade, with the same GM, the same coach and the same star player. It's oddly rare in the modern NBA. And while the Blazers take great pride in their continued success (they rank second behind the Rockets for longest active playoff streak), there is always pressure to move forward.

Lillard has been one of the most sensible stars in the league when it comes to loyalty and collaboration with his organization, and the Blazers have taken steps to improve this off-season. They cashed in capital drafts to add Covington, Jones and Enes Kanter, and returned Rodney Hood after injury. They have their core made up of Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, a trio that together have one of the best net ratings in the league.

Their bubble run sparked the momentum and belief that this team could return to the elite levels of the 2018-19 season when they reached the Western Conference finals, but there are never any guarantees. The west is deep and the blazers fell into a hole due to a series of injuries last season. If they start slowly and get lost again in the lower half of the West, will patience be drained? Is there an important lever that GM Neil Olshey would pull?

– young

When we last saw her …
Luka Doncic was spectacular in his first NBA playoff series – highlighted by a 43-point triple double that was capped by a game-winning summer beater two days after an ankle injury – but the Clippers knocked the Mavs out of the first round out six games. Defensive upgrades were an off-season priority for Dallas.

Win-loss projections

Outsider in NBA rank

Outbreak candidate: Luka Doncic

Is it wild to expect another big jump from a 21-year-old who was first-team All-NBA? Coach Rick Carlisle doesn't believe this and predicts after the Mavs are eliminated that Doncic "would come back even better with something new in his game – just like Bird and Magic and Jordan, all these great players every summer." Doncic (31.6% with 3-pointers and 75.8% with free throws last season) obviously has room for improvement as a shooter. US sports betting has actually made Doncic the consensus favorite to win MVP this season.



Maria Taylor takes a look at Luka Doncic's spectacular second season and gives a sneak preview of what he and the Mavs will need to do to continue that success this year.

Hub for 2020-21: is Kristaps Porzing the star buddy Dallas needs?

That would require the 7-foot-3 Porzingis, who hasn't finished an NBA season healthily, to be available for an entire playoff run. He will start on the sidelines this season as he is still recovering from surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee. This injury forced him to suspend the final games of the Mavs playoff series in the first round against the Clippers. The Mavs plan to step up Porzingis' activities on the pitch in early January and hope to make his season debut sometime this month.

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Of course, the Mavs understood that they were taking some risk acting against Porzingis while he was recovering from a cruciate ligament tear in his left knee, a rehabilitation process that paused him for a year and a half.

Some scouts and leaders in the league are still not convinced that Porzingis can be the second best player on a championship team even if he's healthy. Those doubts were widespread early last season when Porzingis was struggling to find his rhythm and develop a relationship with Doncic.

However, Porzingis's performance last season gave cause for optimism as he averaged 26.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in his last 21 regular season games. How often can the Mavs expect to have "The Unicorn" at its peak?

– Tim MacMahon

When we last saw her …
The Raptors emerged from the bubble after losing a heartbreaking seven-game run to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Toronto valiantly defended its championship and was far better than most predicted after losing to Kawhi Leonard.

Win-loss projections

NBA rank raptors

Outbreak candidate: OG Anunoby

Anunoby bounced back from a lost season in Toronto's title-winning year and returned to one of the league's most intriguing young wings last season. He has clearly established himself as one of the best defensive players in the game – and arguably the best isolation defender in the league. If he can take a big leap offensively, he has a chance to become a real star for the Raptors.



Jackie MacMullan thinks not to let the Raptors play in Toronto this season is a big challenge, but Matt Barnes explains why they might make it.

The linchpin for 2020-21: A time of change

The Raptors kept their spot open to hunt down a maximum free agent the next summer, but at the cost of losing Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in the Free Agency. The team is now forced to play in Tampa, Florida indefinitely. Kyle Lowry, the franchise's greatest player of all time, is a year away from the free agency – and can only be kept if he takes a massive pay cut in the event a max player chooses Toronto. Add that all up and the Raptors are a team in transition in 2020-21.

How will the raptors react? If it's something like the last couple of seasons, it will be fine. It's remarkable to think about how Toronto was perceived before winning the title – back when it was jokingly referred to as "LeBronto" after numerous losses to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. Now Toronto is considered one of the toughest intellectually tough and resilient teams in the league. To stay in the mix in the East, they need all of that and more.

– Bontemps

When we last saw her …
Mike Conley's 3-pointer on Game 7's buzzer went in and out, bouncing the jazz out of the bubble after building a 3-1 lead over the Nuggets. Donovan Mitchell was spectacular in his first-round clash with Jamal Murray when jazz badly needed someone to fill the goal gap left by Bojan Bogdanovic's absence from injury.

Win-loss projections

Jazz in the NBArank

Outbreak Candidate: Donovan Mitchell

There aren't many contestants, considering that Mitchell, 24, is the only jazz rotation player under the age of 27. But it's entirely possible that he could take another big leap to build on the momentum of his bubble burst, highlighted by a pair of playoff performances in excess of 50 points. Add to Mitchell's motivation: An All-NBA selection increases the value of his newly signed five-year extension from $ 163 million to $ 195 million.



Tim MacMahon breaks the meaning of Rudy Gobert's five-year $ 205 million contract extension with jazz.

The linchpin for 2020-21: What's next for the Mitchell-Gobert partnership?

Jazz never wavered from the plan to move forward with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell as properties of the franchise. The internal belief was that even during the most awkward parts of the NBA hiatus, when the co-star rift dominated the headlines, they could continue to have a productive professional partnership even if they weren't close friends.

That optimism was re-affirmed in the bubble when Gobert and Mitchell played well together with no evidence that the previous issues between them would negatively affect their performance. You're "in a good place on the field," Mitchell recently told reporters.

The Jazz went all-in for their all-star duo that off-season, potentially staking up to $ 400 million to bail Gobert and Mitchell for a five-year contract extension. Utah has its pillars of franchise for the foreseeable future.

Now the big question: can Gobert and Mitchell prove they're good enough to be the cornerstone of any legitimate competitor?

This requires a continuous development of chemistry between the duo, particularly Mitchell who matures as a pick and roll playmaker. You must also both make significant progress individually. Was Mitchell's pull-up 3-point shooting efficiency in the playoffs a sign of the future? Can Gobert make himself a threat on the short throw by respecting the defense against the 10- to 12-foot jumper he's been working on this off-season?

This development could mean the difference between jazz as an expensive early playoff exit or a real threat in the West.

– MacMahon

When we last saw her …
You just couldn't lose. Going a long way to make the playoffs – many were wondering why they were even invited to the bubble – Phoenix shocked the league by winning all eight games they played in Orlando. You missed the box office because of a tiebreaker, but it laid the foundation.

Win-loss projections

Sunbathe in the NBArank

Outbreak candidate: Deandre Ayton

Ayton (18.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in 2019-20) has already had a strong second season, but with Chris Paul now playing the point for the Suns there is no reason Ayton shouldn't make another jump can. Paul has traditionally had success with every great man he's played with and his pick and roll skills should help unlock yet another part of Ayton's game. If Phoenix succeeded on the pitch, Ayton could become an all-star.



Mark Schwarz collapses as Chris Paul's pairing with budding star Devin Booker has set Phoenix the highest in years.

The linchpin for 2020-21: What is the point of God left?

We're only 18 months from Houston and need to add two first round picks and two pick swaps to Paul's deal to send him to Oklahoma City from the Rockets. Paul shot a career low of 41.9% and averaged a career low of 15.6 points per game with Houston in 2018-19. There were concerns about whether he could still play at the elite level.

He reacted great with the Thunder last season. Paul was named to the second All-NBA team averaging 17.6 points per game, 6.7 assists, and 5.0 rebounds per game while shooting 48.9% off the ground – the highest percentage he has seen since 2009 / 10 shot.

After their winning streak in the bubble, the playoffs feel possible for the Suns. If Phoenix is ​​to make it there, Paul must preserve the magic and health he rediscovered in OKC.

– Andrew Lopez

When we last saw her …
The Pelicans battled in the bubble en route to a 2-6 mark in Orlando. After New Orleans jumped in as a favorite to at least appear in the play-in game, there was never a disappointing result.

Win-loss projections

NBA rank pelicans

Outbreak Candidate: Zion Williamson

Williamson could take a leap in its second season for one simple reason: he will be healthy. Williamson was downright dizzy about preseason availability when talking about the lack of restrictions for him this season. As a rookie, he's already been historically efficient and if he's 100% there's no reason to believe he won't get better in 2020-21.



Andrew Lopez collapses as the Pelicans plan to battle for a spot in the playoffs and develop young star Zion Williamson this season.

Hub for 2020-21: What can Stan Van Gundy bring?

New Orleans brought in Van Gundy to install his style of play, which is slightly different from the "run, run, run" style that Alvin Gentry wanted to play.

Van Gundy has completed 11 seasons as a coach in his tenure with Heat, Magic and Pistons, and his teams have made ten defensive stints in the top half of the NBA – including his last three seasons in Detroit. His teams reached the top 10 in the defensive ranking in eight of these seasons.

Van Gundy has spoken about the Pelicans' need to improve their defensive communication – while also saying that in practice it is sometimes difficult for him to be calm so that his players can make their own adjustments. It's something that just keeps improving.

For the pelicans to reach the playoffs this season, a buy-in must take place at this end of the floor. They traded two-time all-defensive team selections Jrue Holiday for two-time all-defensive team selections Eric Bledsoe on the starting grid, but Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Williamson all have to take steps forward.

– Lopez

When we last saw her …
The Warriors were the worst team in the league last season with a 15:50 record. Steve Kerr and his team hope that with Stephen Curry healthy and rested, with the help of Draymond Green and new signings Kelly Oubre Jr. and James Wiseman, they can win many games, but Klay Thompson's Achilles injury at the end of the season left a disruption in any title hopes.

Win-loss projections

NBA rank warrior

Outbreak Candidate: Kelly Oubre Jr.

The Warriors are counting on the 25-year-old to take another step in his development and become even more consistent on both ends of the floor. The key for Oubre – who is only a 32.9% career shooter from beyond the arc – will be doing more open 3-pointers while playing against Curry.



Stephen Curry and Draymond Green aim to bring the Warriors back into the playoffs as Klay Thompson is set to miss another season due to injury.

The linchpin for 2020-21: The Bay faces tough decisions

Joe Lacob and the Warriors Ownership Group will pay a huge tax burden to stay competitive in the harsh Western Conference, but without Thompson on the ground and with his uncertain future as an All-Star, the Warriors may face more difficult decisions sooner than they are could have ever imagined. With Thompson and Andrew Wiggins already on the books for maximum renewals, and Green launches his new four-year, nearly $ 100 million deal, the organization has a realistic chance they will have so many bad deals on the books that it does It will be difficult to work its way out of a potentially ugly cap situation.

How the number 2 of James Wiseman’s overall pick is playing might help. If he can become the talented big man they think he is, it will give the warriors both the young center they yearn for and another great asset to build or build around in the future can act.

– Friedell

When we last saw her …
The Pacers were swept out of the opening round by eventual conference champion Heat, but their bubble experience turned T.J. Warren in a household name. Warren exploded to a career high of 53 points when the Pacers restarted, resulting in a selection for the NBA's all-bubble team.

Win-loss projections

Pacemaker in the NBA rank

Outbreak Candidate: T.J. labyrinth

Despite entering its seventh season, Warren has shown up in Orlando during the reboot. His ability to score earned him the nickname "TJ Buckets," but now he hopes it will stay that way this season as Indiana tries to get through the opening round of the playoffs. Staying healthy is always the key.



Victor Oladipo feeds Domantas Sabonis with a bounce pass for the dunk.

Hub for 2020-21: Can Indy take the next step under Björkgren?

Indiana manager Nate McMillan's 183 wins were the third highest by a Pacers head coach since the team became an NBA franchise, behind only Frank Vogel and Larry Brown. But McMillan led the Pacers as head coach for all four seasons to first-round losses, three of which were sweeps.

Indiana isn't comfortable hitting this point, which is why it hired former Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren to lead the team's talent. That win-now approach certainly puts some pressure on, but that only drives Bjorkgren to get the most out of his key players like Warren, Malcolm Brogdon, Aaron Holiday and other proven all-star talents in Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

"Always putting pressure on the job – that's what it's about," said Björkgren during the training camp. "Prepare your team to play in situations like this and lead your team through the regular season with 72 games we will have this year. There is always pressure."

– Woodyard

When we last saw her …
The grizzlies had big bladder problems. Memphis took the lead 6-2 on the seeding schedule – losing to Justise Winslow (hip) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) to injuries that keep them out of the way – and knocked out after a loss to Portland. The good side: Ja Morant has shown that despite a broken thumb, he can take the opportunity with a performance of 35 points and 8 assists in the play-in game.

Win-loss projections

Grizzlies in the NBArank

Outbreak Candidate: De & # 39; Anthony Melton

Making sure Melton was going nowhere as a restricted free agent, the Grizzlies signed a four-year $ 35 million deal with the 22-year-old reserve guard. An excellent full-back, Melton had the best net rating (plus 5.1 points per 100 possessions) of any rotation player in Memphis last season. If he can improve as a Sagittarius (28.6% with 3 pointers), Melton's contract could be a steal.



Ja Morant uses a wide open lane along the baseline and delivers an emphatic slam.

The linchpin for 2020-21: will Justise Winslow's gambling pay off?

Memphis made an expensive bet that Winslow would be a key piece of their young core when they acquired him in a deal with the Miami Heat. The Grizzlies took over the eight-figure salaries of Dion Waiters (repealed immediately) and Gorgui Dieng (via Minnesota) as tax in the trade.

Winslow's height (6-foot-6, 222 pounds), athleticism, defensive versatility, and playful skills make him a fascinating addition to a supporting cast that compliments young stars Morant and Jackson. But he had a worrying injury history prior to arriving in Memphis and has since supplemented it.

He was recovering from a back injury and was almost ready to make his Memphis debut when the pandemic halted the season. The Grizzlies are still waiting to get Winslow to the ground because a hip displacement sustained during a bladder exercise prevented him from playing when the NBA rebooted.

– MacMahon

When we last saw her …
Mike D & # 39; Antoni was the coach, Daryl Morey was the general manager and Russell Westbrook was James Harden's hobbling co-star when the Rockets ricocheted off the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs. They all decided they wanted out of Houston, hiring Stephen Silas as coach, promoting Rafael Stone to general manager, trading Westbrook for John Wall, and waiting for a fair deal on Harden.

Win-loss projections

NBA-ranked missiles

Outbreak Candidate: Christian Wood

The Rockets rely heavily on Wood, the seasoned, athletic, 25-year-old Big Man who moved to five NBA franchises before signing a three-year $ 41 million deal to come to Houston. Wood produced big numbers during his showcase phase as a starter for the Pistons, averaging 21.9 points and 9.4 rebounds with a true shooting percentage of 64.7 in a dozen games that Houston hopes will mark the future are.



Royce Young describes the Rockets' offseason moves and their future.

The pivotal point for 2020-21: The Harden saga continues

You may have heard that the Rockets' perennial MVP candidate requested a trade. Harden's situation isn't just the Rockets' biggest source of drama – it's the juiciest soap opera in the league right now.

Harden has made it clear that he will not change his mind. He decided to have a party in Atlanta and Las Vegas while the team started practicing. This was apparently Harden's way of getting his point across to a franchise that is in no rush to accommodate its trade request. The Rockets front office is not panicking, stating that Harden will not start trading until the Rockets receive an offer they consider fair, that of a young franchise cornerstone and a bunch of picks and / or young talent from the first round insists on a rookie deal.

Time is on the Rockets side for now, and Harden is under contract for two more seasons before he has a player option. In the meantime, prepare your popcorn.

How will a first year head coach deal with a superstar whose main goal is to pack their bags? What chemistry issues will teammates have – especially John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, former All-Stars determined to make a big comeback – and aware that Harden is looking to get out? Will Harden even try to maintain a defensive stance for the remainder of his Rockets tenure?

– MacMahon

When we last saw her …
The magic had nice momentum at the start of the bubble, but it collapsed when Jonathan Isaac suffered a cross-crack in the left ACL at the end of the season when they were knocked out by the Bucks in the opening round. This year feels like many others in the recent past – it's about growth for younger players looking to take the next steps in their careers.

Win-loss projections

Magic in the NBA rank

Outbreak Candidate: Cole Anthony

Anthony was originally supposed to be a top pick in last year's draft, but a knee injury during his lonely season in North Carolina changed his path. The Magic hopes he can show that talent on an offense that another playmaker could use badly. After Markelle Fultz saw the former number 1 standings grow last season, there is reason to believe Anthony, who was number 15 last month, can achieve similar successes on offense.



Rookie Cole Anthony is the hero of magic as he connects with a starting swimmer and has 14 seconds left to lead Orlando to victory over the Hornets.

Hub for 2020-21: is the magic idling?

As it has been for years, they are currently probably the worst place in professional sports: the middle. Aside from developing Fultz and Anthony, they have to hope that 2019 first classic Chuma Okeke has a lovely first year after missing all of last season while rehabilitating from a knee injury.

Steve Clifford is one of the most respected coaches in the league, but he still doesn't have the kind of star every team needs to look after. The magic has not been nationally relevant since the deal with Dwight Howard and urgently needs its young core in order to continue to grow and develop together.

Are you trading with Aaron Gordon trying to mess things up and build more assets? There aren't many moves that can get the magic out of the hole of mediocrity they created.

– Friedell

When we last saw her …
Missing key pieces, San Antonio went small in the bladder, giving DeMar DeRozan time in the 4 on the way to a 5-3 record in Orlando. However, it was the first time since the 1996/97 season that San Antonio missed the playoffs – a series of 22 consecutive seasons that linked an NBA record.

Win-loss projections

Spurs in the NBA rank

Outbreak Candidate: Derrick White

White showed a big improvement in the bubble, averaging 18.9 points, 5.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 39.3% on his 3-pointers. White will make a pretty strong start-backcourt combination with Dejounte Murray.



DeMar DeRozan roams the paint between the Rockets defenders to make contact and sink the layup for a chance at a 3-point game.

Hub for 2020-21: Are the younger Spurs ready to shine?

Gregg Popovich and the Spurs found success in the bubble, also due to their commitment to the youth movement. After LaMarcus Aldridge was out with an injury and Patty Mills rested (although he was eventually forced to act), the Spurs' plan was to grow young. But there was still a place for DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay to thrive.

How will pop in the new season balance the youth movement with the older veterans? DeRozan, age 31, $ 27.7 million, Aldridge, age 35, $ ​​24 million, Gay, age 34, $ 14.5 million, and Mills, age 32, $ 13.5 million Dollars) all run out, but all can still contribute to a high level.

With Murray and White in the background, Lonnie Walker IV and draftees Devin Vassell and Tre Jones could fight there for minutes. Keldon Johnson, the Spurs' 2019 first round pick, was stellar on the bubble (14.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 63.8% shooting, and 11 of 17 from depth in 26.1 minutes per game) and Pay to get minutes this season. Trey Lyles and Jakob Poeltl also want minutes on the forecourt.

How the team balances young and old can determine whether the Spurs swing and miss in the postseason or start a new streak.

– Lopez

When we last saw her …
The Wizards left bubble 1-7 as a team that shouldn't have played when they restarted. Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans didn't play in the bubble and Washington gave Rui Hachimura valuable development time.

Win-loss projections

Wizard in NBArank

Outbreak Candidate: Rui Hachimura

The Wizards are high on Hachimura and finished ninth overall in 2019. As a rookie, he averaged 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds, but scored 20 or more points in the bubble in two of his last three games. Hachimura and Bertans could have plenty of scoring opportunities while the defenses weigh on stars Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook.



Royce Young abandons the Wizards' off-season takeover of former MVP Russell Westbrook and explains how he'll fit in with the rest of Washington's roster.

The linchpin for 2020-21: The new star duo in D.C.

The Wizards officially turned the franchise over to Beal when they traded John Wall. However, it remains to be seen how Westbrook and Beal fit together and how much the former MVP is shifting.

Beal flourished in Wall's absence last season, averaging 30.5 points and 6.1 points, adding to an increased role as a playmaker. The guard is under contract until 2022-23 with one player option for that season. Reuniting with former Thunder coach Scott Brooks, Westbrook is looking for a place to put down roots again after a season in Houston. Brooks must find a way to make up for the offense with the two guards who are used to holding the ball in their hands. There are many similarities between Wall and Westbrook, but Wall and Beal never made it through the second round together.

The Wizards rely on Westbrook's sheer presence, which enhances the young cadre with their relentless competitiveness and work ethic.

– Youngmisuk

When we last saw her …
The Hawks were one of eight NBA teams whose season ended in March when the pandemic halted the game. Atlanta played in one of four games that were completed on the final day, losing 136-131 to the Knicks. The most memorable thing about this competition? It was Vince Carter's last NBA game and the vet hit a 3-pointer for his last NBA bucket in overtime.

Win-loss projections

Hawks in NBArank

Outbreak candidate: Bogdan Bogdanovic

Bogdanovic was looking for a bigger role and may have found it in Atlanta. In three seasons in Sacramento, Bogdanovic lasted an average of 28.2 minutes per game. He may not have that much left in Atlanta, but he could play a bigger role on the offensive. Bogdanovic started and fell off the bench last season and has proven to be valuable in both cases.



Maria Taylor previews the upcoming season for the Atlanta Hawks.

The linchpin for 2020-21: Are all the additions enough?

Atlanta added a lot of new players in the off-season: Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn and Solomon Hill have all signed in the free agency, and the team has drafted Onyeka Okongwu with the number 6. By the way, they're also just getting a taste of what they've got at the center from Clint Capela, who was acquired last February but never played with Atlanta last season.

The kick-off for the playoffs is there. Atlanta could have continued to grow young talent in Cam Reddish, Deandre Hunter and Kevin Huerter alongside all-star point guard Trae Young and striker John Collins. With this off-season, they speeded up the process.

– Lopez

When we last saw her …
It's been 10 months since the Wolves last played a game, losing to the Rockets on March 10th in which D & # 39; Angelo Russell lost 28 points. It was the end of a disappointing season, but also the end of any opportunity to work on the new partnership between Karl-Anthony Towns and Russell. They had only played one game together before Towns injured his wrist. So this season will be the first real look at what they can do together.

Win-loss projections

Timberwolves in the NBArank

Outbreak Candidate: Jarrett Culver

It's only the second year for Culver, but it feels like the clock is already ticking. His rookie season has been tough – with a few positive flashes – but with the Wolves evaluating their young talent, Culver could be dispensable. And they also used the number 1 on a player playing his position. But it's still early for Culver, and with a season and some motivation, this could be a big year to show signs of improvement.



Karl-Anthony Towns with the no-look pass to Ricky Rubio, who drives to the lay-in.

The pivotal point for 2020-21: A closer look at the Towns-Russell duo

The only game they played together last season showed the Wolves that there was hope in the Towns-Russell partnership, but it left some unknowns behind. They added the number 1 in Anthony Edwards along with a few other players like prodigal son Ricky Rubio, but this Wolves team is focused on a leap forward.

Towns and Russell wanted to play together, and after failing in the summer of 2019, the Wolves pulled the strings to strike a deal and sent Andrew Wiggins to the Golden State. League executives have been keeping an eye on the situation in Towns, wondering if he could be the next young all-star to want a change of scene. The deal with Russell was a step in the direction of trying to accommodate cities, but nothing accomplishes this more than winning.

And Towns has a big say in that part. The wolves look at their prospects in terms of development policy and try to create a window for several successful seasons. They preach patience and process, but good players can get impatient. There's no pressure on the Wolves to win just yet, but if there isn't positive signs of progress, Minnesota could be a little exciting.

– young

When we last saw her …
The Bulls lost three games at home to the Cavaliers on March 10th. Then-rookie guard Coby White ended on a team high of 20 points, but the playoffs were already way out of reach. A new regime in Chicago wants to change that.

Win-loss projections

Bulls in NBA rank

Outbreak Candidate: Coby White

The rookie season for the North Carolina product has been a roller coaster ride, but his great enthusiasm for the game cannot be denied. White has proven he can light it up and score in clusters from beyond the arc, but it's still not set in stone whether he'll be a starter. He'll have to improve his ball handling and game skills to really establish himself at the NBA level, but he has the tools.



Coby White looks to improve his rookie season as he scores 27 points and helps the Bulls outperform the Thunder 124-103.

Hub for 2020-21: Can This Overhaul Save the Cops?

Zach LaVine has proven himself a must see on TV with his soaring acts and natural ability to throw the ball in the hoop. But can his style of play get the Bulls back into the playoffs for the first time since 2016-17? The cops completely redesigned their front office and leadership to support him. Arturas Karnisovas has been named executive vice president of basketball, general manager Marc Eversley and new head coach Billy Donovan.

Injuries plagued Chicago last year, according to The sixth most games were missed due to injury. Her win percentage (.310) over the past three seasons is the second worst in the NBA for that time span behind the Knicks. With key players like LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr., White and Thaddeus Young, Donovan sees a line-up with a lot of potential. His work in Oklahoma City last season demonstrated his ability to get the most out of young rosters.

With all the off-season moves, Chicago has certainly shown that it is unsatisfied with 22 consecutive seasons with 22 wins.

– Woodyard

When we last saw her …
It was a comedy of mistakes for the kings in the Orlando Bubble. With several key items missing at the beginning of the reboot due to COVID-19 and with Richaun Holmes receiving an additional 10-day quarantine to break the scope and collect chicken wings, it's time for Marvin Bagley III to have one at the end of the season Suffering a foot injury. I would rather forget.

Win-loss projections

Kings of the NBA rank

Outbreak Candidate: Marvin Bagley III

The former great duke had no control over whether he was selected the night before Luka Doncic and what comparisons would lead to Dallas' security guard for the rest of his career. What he can control is what he does in his third season to fulfill the promise the Kings saw in him in the first place.



Kyle Guy leaves a tough triple when time runs out and empties it to drive the kings over the warriors in the preseason.

Hub for 2020-21: Is Luke Walton in the hot seat?

The Kings brought in Monte McNair to replace Vlade Divac as general manager this off-season. This should signal two things: the organization is prioritizing analytics, and head coach Luke Walton could take his time. Walton was hand-picked by Divac, of course, and got the job almost immediately after parting ways with the Lakers in 2019. McNair trained with Daryl Morey in Houston and spent 13 seasons working his way up the ranks of the Rockets. That said, he had a long time to think about how he would run the show if he was ever given the top spot. With Sacramento already past a 14-year post-season drought and an ambitious owner at Vivek Ranadive setting the table back with McNair, the pressure could be on Walton to make progress this season, or else.

– McMenamin

When we last saw her …
Luguentz there had the ball in hand and had a chance to send the Thunder into the second round, but James Harden blocked his 3-point attempt and OKC went to the Rockets in seven games. It was the end of a successful, over-fulfilled season for the Thunder and also the end of the roster as we knew it, as the table was set for complete dismantling.

Win-loss projections

Donner in the NBA rank

Outbreak Candidate: Darius Bazley

A breakout player in the bubble, 20-year-old Bazley improved his defense, shooting and ball handling dramatically. He will get more opportunities this season and possibly move up to a starting role.



Al Horford and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's thunder duo collectively score 27 points against the Bulls as they prepare for the regular season.

The linchpin for 2020-21: How many more offers for OKC?

They say if you don't like the Oklahoma weather, wait 10 minutes. And the same goes for the roster now. After an off-season of a multitude of trades, here's a fun fact: Hamidou Diallo is currently the longest-serving Thunder player. There is a clear transition to a remodel that makes veterans like Al Horford, George Hill and Trevor Ariza very available in the merchant market.

Horford's situation is similar to Chris Paul's last season. He has a tough contract and has had a year that was felt to be bad. Aber in einer günstigen Rolle konnte Horford seinen Ruf und seinen Handelswert schnell wiederherstellen und ein konkurrierendes Team dazu veranlassen, das Risiko einer Gehaltsübernahme abzuwägen.

Hill ist ein qualifizierter Rollenspieler für jedes gute Team, und obwohl Ariza nicht so bald zum Thunder wechselt (ähnlich wie in der Situation von Andre Iguodala in der letzten Saison mit Memphis), wird er das Interesse der Konkurrenten wecken.

Die Thunder sind bereit, ihre jungen Spieler zu spielen, werden aber das parallele Spiel spielen, den Handelswert für die verbleibenden Tierärzte zu erhöhen. Die Handelsgerüchte werden die ganze Saison über um sie herum fließen, was für ein junges Team eine Ablenkung sein könnte, insbesondere wenn sie besser als erwartet starten.

– young

When we last saw her …
Die Hornets befanden sich nach einem 23: 42-Rekord außerhalb der Blase, aber Hornets-Trainer James Borrego ist zuversichtlich, dass sein junges Team in dieser Saison um einen Liegeplatz nach der Saison kämpfen kann. Dies hängt davon ab, dass Neuzugang Gordon Hayward seine All-Star-Form finden kann, nachdem er letzten Monat einen Vierjahresvertrag über 120 Millionen Dollar unterzeichnet hat.

Win-loss projections

Hornissen im NBA-Rang

Ausbruchskandidat: LaMelo Ball

Der 19-Jährige ist fest davon überzeugt, dass er in seinem Anfängerjahr ein Differenzierer sein kann. Die Frage ist, wie schnell sich sein Talent in einer Liga niederschlägt, die ständig kaut und hohe Draft-Picks ausspuckt. Ball lobte den Entwurf – einige Experten glaubten, er hätte die Nummer 1 sein sollen -, aber jetzt darf er für Michael Jordan in einem Team spielen, das glaubt, dass es bereit ist, einen weiteren Schritt in seiner Entwicklung zu tun.



LaMelo Ball zeigt sein beeindruckendes Ballhandling bei seinem NBA-Debüt in der Vorsaison gegen die Raptors.

Dreh- und Angelpunkt für 2020-21: Ist Hayward die ultimative Wild Card der Hornissen?

Ein Großteil des Erfolgs oder Misserfolgs der Hornets-Saison hängt von Haywards Fähigkeit ab, sich schnell anzupassen. Dies war ein großer Schwung für Jordan und GM Mitch Kupchak – und ein Spieler, den Jordan jahrelang im Auge hatte. Kann Hayward der Vereiniger für einen jungen Kader sein? Hayward schien in der vergangenen Saison in Boston seine alte Form gefunden zu haben, bevor ihn eine weitere Knöchelverletzung aus der Bahn brachte, aber eine Fingerverletzung könnte ihn davon abhalten, diese Saison zu beginnen.

Wenn Hayward hereinkommt und mit dem ehemaligen Teamkollegen Terry Rozier klicken und ein erfahrener Resonanzboden für junge Spieler wie Ball, Miles Bridges, Malik Monk und P. J. Washington sein kann, haben die Hornets Grund zu der Annahme, dass ihr Übergang in die Playoffs schnell vonstatten gehen kann. Wenn Hayward die Konstanz in seinem Spiel findet, mit der er nach der schrecklichen Knöchelverletzung in seinem ersten Spiel bei den Celtics zu kämpfen hatte, dann ist dies eine interessante Wette für ein Team, das normalerweise nicht im Gespräch für hochrangige freie Agenten ist .

Aber wenn der 30-Jährige seine alte Form nicht finden kann, ist es ein Vertrag, bei dem es sich um einen Albatros handelt, bei dem Charlotte auf dem Weg zu mehr Mittelmäßigkeit ist.

– Friedell

When we last saw her …
Detroit erlitt seine fünfte Niederlage in Folge, als sie am 11. März das letzte Mal in Aktion waren, und fiel auf die 76er auf der Straße. In dieser Saison geht es darum, eine Identität durch eine Vielzahl von Neuzugängen und einen Front-Office-Wechsel zu finden.

Win-loss projections

Kolben im NBA-Rang

Ausbruchskandidat: Sekou Doumbouya

Obwohl er den ersten Teil seiner Rookie-Kampagne mit dem Grand Rapids Drive der G League verbracht hatte, zeigte der 6-Fuß-8, 230-Pfund-Stürmer mit 19 Jahren vielversprechende Blitze. Der gebürtige Franzose und 15. Gesamtsieger im Jahr 2019 wird sich unter Pistons-Trainer Dwane Casey mit grenzenlosem Potenzial und vielseitigen Fähigkeiten weiterentwickeln, um in der heutigen NBA mit seiner einzigartigen Größe und Größe erfolgreich zu sein.



Killian Hayes von den Pistons zieht weiterhin die Verteidigung nach innen, wodurch Josh Jackson offen bleibt, um innerhalb von Minuten einen 3-Punkte-Schuss niederzuschlagen.

Dreh- und Angelpunkt für 2020-21: Wird die Flut von Bewegungen zum Erfolg führen?

Troy Weaver, GM von New Pistons, versprach, in dieser Offseason in der freien Agentur und im NBA-Entwurf aggressiv zu sein. Er hat sein Versprechen erfüllt und eine Gruppe von Spielern hinzugefügt, von denen die Franchise-Hoffnungen Blake Griffin und Derrick Rose ergänzen können.

Die Pistons waren eines der meistbeschäftigten Teams in der Draft Night und gingen mit vier Picks in Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey und Saben Lee. Sie haben auch die Veteranen Delon Wright, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor und das Heimatstadtprodukt Josh Jackson hinzugefügt. Weaver hat sich den Ruf erarbeitet, ein Auge für junge Talente zu haben. Obwohl einige der Bewegungen den Fans von Pistons zufällig erschienen, verfolgte Detroit aktiv Talente, was in den letzten Jahren nicht der Fall war.

– Woodyard

When we last saw her …
Die Knicks waren eines der acht Teams, die nach einer weiteren regulären Saison nicht mehr in der Blase waren. Sie landeten mit der achten Wahl im NBA-Entwurf, und damit brauchte der gebürtige New Yorker Obi Toppin, um einen jungen Kern von RJ Barrett und Mitchell Robinson zu ergänzen, und engagierte auch Tom Thibodeau als ihren Cheftrainer.

Win-loss projections

Knicks in NBArank

Ausbruchskandidat: Mitchell Robinson

Es gibt viele potenzielle Kandidaten in einem so jungen Team, aber wenn Thibodeau bereit ist, Robinson seine Fehler durchspielen zu lassen, könnte er für einen bedeutenden Sprung in Position sein. Robinson ist ein langer, athletischer Pogo-Stick eines Zentrums und hat das Potenzial, eine dynamische defensive Präsenz zu sein. Für einen Trainer wie Thibodeau zu spielen, könnte dieses Potenzial freisetzen. Umgekehrt könnten seine jugendlichen Fehler und seine Tendenz, Fouls zu begehen, Thibodeau dazu bringen, ihn weitaus häufiger auf der Bank zu lassen, als Knicks Fans es gerne hätten.



Stephen A. Smith wird Max Kellerman nicht erlauben, über die Änderungen im Front-Office der Knicks zu sprechen, weil er der Meinung ist, dass Max sein Fandom des Teams aufgegeben hat.

Dreh- und Angelpunkt für 2020-21: Wie wird Thibs die jungen Knicks trainieren?

Die Knicks haben einen der jüngsten Kader der NBA erstellt, mit keinem einzigen Spieler, der älter als 30 Jahre ist. Natürlich wollen sie versuchen, für die Zukunft zu bauen und junge Spieler wie Barrett, Toppin und Robinson zum Fundament des ersten beständigen Gewinnerteams der Knicks zu machen, seit Carmelo Anthony sie 2013 in die Playoffs geführt hat.

Gleichzeitig stellten sie den ultimativen Win-Now-Trainer in Thibodeau ein, einen Taskmaster, der sich im Laufe seiner Karriere als erfolgreicher Taktiker erwiesen hat, der sich jedoch durch das Auf und Ab des Trainierens junger Menschen nicht gerade als geduldig erwiesen hat Spieler.

Thibodeau hat vielleicht keine große Wahl. Die Knicks sind nicht gerade voller Talente, und selbst er muss bei all seinem Wettbewerbsfeuer wissen, dass seine Chancen, dieses Team zu einem potenziellen Playoff-Platz zu führen, gering sind. Wird er junge Leute umarmen, die durch Kämpfe spielen? Oder werden wir viele Alec Burks, Julius Randle und Nerlens Noel anstelle von Barrett, Toppin und Robinson sehen?

Die Fans werden beten, dass sie endlich etwas Lottoglück und das Recht haben, im nächsten Sommer eine Perspektive wie Cade Cunningham zu bekommen. In der Zwischenzeit werden alle Augen darauf gerichtet sein, wie sich die Beziehung zwischen den jungen Spielern und dem erfahrenen Trainer entwickelt.

– Bontemps

When we last saw her …
Die Cavs waren eines der acht Teams, die nicht zur Blase eingeladen waren, und beendeten die mit Minnesota verbundene Saison für den zweitschlechtesten Rekord in der Liga. Sie landeten nur auf Platz 5 und wählten Isaac Okoro aus Auburn aus, um ihre Sammlung junger Talente zu erweitern.

Win-loss projections

Kavaliere im NBA-Rang

Ausbruchskandidat: Darius Garland

In sechs Spielen nach der All-Star-Pause, bevor Clevelands Saison abgebrochen wurde, begann der damalige Rookie Garland mit der Zusammenstellung und erzielte im Durchschnitt 13,3 Punkte bei 45,9% aus dem Feld (39,1% von 3) und 4,2 Vorlagen. Man kann sich darauf verlassen, dass der erfahrene Combo Guard in seiner zweiten Staffel weiter vorankommt.



Dante Exum sah in beeindruckender Form in der Vorsaison mit 23 Punkten, 5 Vorlagen und 4 Abprallern in 27 Minuten für die Cavaliers aus.

Dreh- und Angelpunkt für 2020-21: Was macht Cleveland mit Love und Drummond?

Cleveland hat für diese Saison fast 60 Millionen US-Dollar in Kevin Love und Andre Drummond eingesperrt. Vor fünf Jahren, die vielleicht als dominanter Vorplatz angesehen wurden, scheint es nun eher eine Herausforderung zu sein, beide Jungs gleichzeitig auf dem Platz zu halten und in der Lage zu sein, mit dem positionslosen Basketball mitzuhalten, der die Liga durchdrungen hat.

Liebe gibt den Cavs natürlich eine Verbindung zum Titel-Team von 2016, hat einen zuverlässigen Außenschuss für einen großen Mann und ist weiterhin führend außerhalb des Spielfelds, wenn es um das Bewusstsein für psychische Gesundheit geht.

Drummond bestritt nur acht Spiele mit Cleveland, nachdem er in einem Handel von Detroit erworben worden war, bevor die Saison beendet wurde. With an uneasy free-agency market, despite that small sample size, Drummond opted in for the final year on his contract to stay with the Cavs. Now the question is whether the Cavaliers will be able to move either of them in order to stack some assets when it could be ready to compete for the playoffs down the line.

— McMenamin