This past NBA off-season can be noted as fantastical, standing out as one of the most exciting off-seasons fans have ever witnessed.
After winning two championships with the Warriors, forward Kevin Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets, and after winning this past year’s championship with the Raptors, forward Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers.
Leonard’s former team has started the season strong even after losing their best player to free agency; they stand at 3-1. Expectations are high for the Raptors after bringing home the city of Toronto their first-ever NBA Championship last season. Kyle Lowry is averaging 22 points, five rebounds and seven assists per game.
Like Leonard, superstar forward Paul George also signed with the Clippers, and highly skilled Anthony “Big Man” Davis signed with the Lakers, joining forces with three-time champion Lebron James. Both Los Angeles teams come into this season as the prohibitive favorites. Leonard, James and Davis are three of the top five players in the league.
The Clippers have a 3-1 record this season. Kawhi Leonard is averaging 27 points, nearly seven rebounds, and between seven and eight assists on the season. Leonard gained 30 points in a signature win over the Lakers on opening night.
Not too far behind these two L.A. teams are the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia traded away forward Jimmy Butler, and they knocked down shooting guard JJ Redick. However, they acquired former Boston Celtics veteran big man Al Horford, re-signed forward Tobias Harris, and signed Shooting Guard Josh Richardson.
Highly criticized for his inability to shoot an outside jump shot, third-year point guard Ben Simmons still averaged 16.7 points per game, six rebounds and eight assists on 53% shooting. Joel Embiid is the 76ers best player, averaging 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game last season.
The 76ers are one of three undefeated teams so far, 3-0. With a signature opening night win over Boston, two-time All-Star Joel Embiid scored 36 points, and 13 rebounds on 12-19 shooting in the 105-103 win over the Hawks on Monday, Oct. 28.
If Embiid can stay healthy, Philly can go far this season.
The Bucks lost to the eventual champion Raptors in the playoffs last season, but they were guided on the backs of the MVP award winner, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo averaged 24.3 points per game along with 13.3 rebounds and nine assists. He slightly beat out Rockets shooting guard James Harden, who nearly won the award for the second season in a row.
Harden averaged 29.3 points per game, about nine assists, and four rebounds. In 2018, he was averaging 36.1 points per game, winning him the MVP title.
The Rockets made a major splash in the off-season by adding former Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook had spent his entire 11-year career as a member of the Thunder. Last season, he averaged a triple-double for the third year in a row. He averages 22.9 points per game, 11.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists.
The Rockets currently have a 2-1 record this season. Westbrook is fitting in nicely to his new team, averaging 24 points, 12.7 rebounds and nearly ten assists per game. James Harden is averaging 29.3 points, five rebounds and nearly nine assists over the first three games.
Some of the clear-cut favorite teams in the NBA this season are the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and the Houston Rockets.
With the plethora of great players switching teams, this should be one of the most exciting seasons yet.