The New-Look NBA

Jay Singh, Staff Writer

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The NBA has changed a lot over recent years. Ever since Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, teams have been attempting to match the Warriors’ star power by building their own “super teams.” This led to arguably the most insane offseason ever. Teams engaged in a trading frenzy, the goal being dethroning the Warriors. Although the Warriors still won the NBA Championship, they were pushed to the limits by the Houston Rockets. Due to the success of the Rockets, teams geared up for another offseason of trading and massive free agent signings. Thankfully, another crazy summer followed.

 

The 2018 rookie class is stacked. The first pick of the entire draft, Deandre Ayton, is an offensive beast in the paint.  According to Sports Reference, Ayton averaged an amazing 20.1 points per game and 11.6 rebounds per game. The only question about his game is his defense. He was a suspect defender in college, but he has the physical tools to succeed in the NBA. Despite this, the Suns’ front office is confident that he can contribute right away.  The second pick in the draft was Marvin Bagley. In college, he scored 21 points per game and grabbed 10.1 rebounds per game. But, with the loss of productivity from post players of his caliber and a distinct lack of defense, there are legitimate concerns about if he will be able to produce in the NBA. The third pick in the draft was the Euroleague MVP, Luka Doncic. He was a potent shooting guard, averaging 14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists (Sports Reference). These three rookies, especially, are generating lots of hype. Other rookies receiving lots of attention are Trae Young, Jarren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox.

Now, for the exciting stuff. This year’s free agency was insane with many prominent players switching sides. The biggest move of the summer was Lebron James moving from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers signed the best player in the NBA, making their team an immediate contender for the NBA Finals.

Sophomore Dylan Gatua, an avid Lakers fan, is very excited for this free agent signing. He states, “I think that Lebron will have an immediate positive impact for the Lakers. He makes ‘us’ a contender and with all of the other help we have on the team, there is a real chance that we make the NBA finals this year.”

The most controversial signing occurred when Demarcus Cousins moved to the Golden State Warriors. Demarcus Cousins is arguably the best center in the league and is rehabbing for an Achilles tear that happened last year. This injury has ended many careers, but Cousins won’t need to rush back as he is joining the most dominant NBA team ever. The Warriors now have 5 all-stars on their team that are all in their prime. As some say, “The rich get richer.”

The last major move of this offseason is a trade that sent Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors for Demar DeRozan. Kawhi Leonard sat out the last season because he was discontent with his situation in San Antonio. He then stated publicly that he wanted to go to one of the Los Angeles teams and would sit out until he was traded. The dramatic Kawhi Leonard trade saga ended with the Spurs trading him and Danny Green, a solid defender and shooter, to Toronto for their star, Demar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl, a great defensive center. The move benefits both sides as the Alamo City gets a player that actually wants to play for them and Toronto gets a top five NBA player. If Toronto can resign Leonard, then this trade will be a massive win for the Raptors.

There were also many other trades and signings that occurred this offseason but won’t make a major impact. Some of these small moves were Carmelo Anthony to the Rockets, Isaiah Thomas to the Denver Nuggets and Dwight Howard to the Washington Wizards.

With all of these offseason moves, the NBA is bound to be more exciting this year. But with Cousins signing with the Warriors, will anybody be able to dethrone the back-to-back champions. All we can do is wait and see, but I am very optimistic about this season.

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