We are all in the dark about the official start of the 2020-21 NBA season. Commissioner Adam Silver says that it’s likely January 2021, but also claimed that they are not ruling out a start on Christmas day 2020.
For now, we’ll be left talking about the recently concluded season, the coaching carousel, the freshly-minted champion Los Angeles Lakers, the LeBron James-Michael Jordan ‘GOAT’ debate, and if Player X is better than Player Y.
One that’s very intriguing, however, is the number of teams that may make waves in the next season, which includes their development on the court and the overall wheeling and dealing on the roster.
Here are those teams:
Golden State Warriors
The team of the 2010s are still alive. ‘Splash Brothers’ Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will be returning from injury, and their powerhouse core with defensive ace Draymond Green should be up-and-running. Former first overall pick Andrew Wiggins is now on their side too.
It’s a mystery if Wiggins can truly click with the Dubs’ trio, but should we really doubt the teams’ ability to develop talent? Besides, they also own the second pick in this year’s draft, and that’s an added asset that may very well allow them to land a star in the near future.
The Warriors are aging, but make no mistake about it: whether they ship Wiggins and/or the no. 2 pick, they have a good amount of gas left in the tank.
The small-ball experiment is probably dead and gone as head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey, two of the league’s most aggressive advocates of the system, are both out in Houston. A new regime is on its way.
Filling out those two vital spots is the exciting question that will surround the team, and along with that could also be the possible shake up in the roster. Keep in mind that James Harden is very tight with Morey, so don’t be shocked if he suddenly asks for a trade. It’s not THAT likely, but whatever happens, intriguing reinforcements are very much in play.
If the front office decides to step away from the small-ball system, Eric Gordon, Robert Covington, PJ Tucker, Austin Rivers, Danuel House may get traded or let go.
This is a team that’s bound for a deep playoff run. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are elite talents with no true weaknesses in their offensive skillset, and they’re poised to form one of the most prolific scoring tandems in recent memory.
If that’s not enough, they’re being backed by a supporting cast that was good enough to make the playoffs just a year ago: Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris. Rebounding machine DeAndre Jordan and athletic ‘3 and D’ specialist Taurean Prince are also there. The group is under-the-radar right now since they underachieved this season, but they all fit Durant and Irving’s game, and they could very well rise in 2021.
Rookie coach Steve Nash will be guiding the team. Though he has zero experience outside of being a Warriors consultant, he’s a point guard who knows plays inside and out, and he’s a Hall-of-Famer for a reason. It will be interesting to see if he can become the next great neophyte coach to quickly breakout.
The Sixers are welcoming a new regime as veteran coach Doc Rivers is coming over from the LA Clippers. Don’t let his 3-1 series chokes fool you: Rivers is a top-tier coach with bags full of X’s and O’s and all the classic savvy coaching skills. He has nurtured many talents in his career, and should be able to do the same with All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and standout Tobias Harris, whom he had previously coached in LA. Expect a good development from the defensive-minded Josh Richardson and Matisse thybulle too.
Adding to all of the Sixers mystery for 2021, however, is the possibility of a blockbuster trade, which could be Embiid, Simmons, or Harris. Rumors have been heating up for a while now, so who’s to say they won’t pull the trigger if an attractive offer comes? The road to the next season can be really crazy for Philly.
The Clippers got thoroughly embarrassed in the 2020 playoffs after that ugly Western Conference Semifinals loss to the Denver Nuggets. How did they possibly squander that 3-1 cushion and all that double-digit lead in a closeout game?
The first of many potential changes dropped when they let go Doc Rivers weeks back. They have replaced him with his assistant coach, Tyronn Lue, but piles of questions are still on the team’s lap.
While we can expect the marquee pairing of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to stay put, the chemistry of the group is clearly not in great shape right now. Reports recently came out that some of Leonard’s teammates are not happy with the preferential treatment he got, particularly the load management he has been infamously doing over the last two seasons.
The thing to watch out is the team’s plan for their free agent big man, Montrezl Harrell. He just won the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award, and may get great offers from other teams. Should they try hard to keep him or should they let him walk to open up cap space for other signings?
Doing a sign-and-trade for ‘Trez to possibly acquire draft picks is also an option. Don’t forget that the Clipps virtually emptied their supply of first-round picks so they can get George from OKC. Unless certain picks fall in the top 5, which will mean they have a bottom-ranked record, the Clipps do not have a first rounder until 2026.