MEGA Thread – NBA Draft, Free Agency, and Power Rankings Recap From a Depressed Hornets Fan…

Posting my records here for easier reference,

61-53-2 on NBA in 2018 up 9.28 units

20-23-2 on NBA regular in 2019 down 20.23 units

10-5 on 2019 NBA playoffs up 16.41 units

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Congrats to the Raptors on winning the 2019 NBA Finals and stopping the Golden State dynasty for at least a year. KD’s injury, Klay’s injury, and Nick Nurse’s awful Game 5 timeout seems like ages ago. Since those things, the Raptors won the title, had a dysfunctional parade, and lost their best player, Danny Green, to the Lakers. Kawhi left for the Clippers too. There are the vets like Vince Carter, Jamal Crawford, Jeremy Lin, Carmelo, and Joakim Noah still available. Yes, the same Joakim that the Knicks are paying $6 million over the next 3 years for him not to play for them. Stay tuned for more ridiculous “why the hell is this team still playing this player”… but for now the power rankings

Note: My projected win total is loosely base on stats and mainly based on my gut.. It will be interesting to compare to the actual lines that should come out in the next month.

Power Rankings

30. Charlotte Hornets (2019 record 39-43) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 19.5

Key additions: Terry Rozier, PJ Washington, and maybe Cody Martin

Key losses: Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Frank “picked before Myles Turner and Devin Booker” Kaminsky, and Tony parker

Projected Starting Lineup: Terry Rozier III, Malik Monk, Batum, Miles Bridges, Cody Zeller

Charlotte loses the best player in their franchise’s history, Kemba Walker, and signs only one free agent, Terry Rozier. Terry is only 25, so I will withhold judgement for now. Devonte’ Graham said Kemba sat down with young guys, before he left for Boston, and said he loved them and they had to step up now. Kemba is a good guy. I am going to miss Kemba. Charlotte actually won more games than they were predicted to last year, but still missed the playoffs by 2 games. As a Charlotte fan, I was torn on if I wanted to make the playoffs and get gentleman’s swept by the Bucks, or get a high draft pick.. In true Charlotte basketball fashion, we did neither somehow..

Charlotte’s GM, Mitch Kupchak, has to be on drugs because he has said things like, “We feel like if he was in this year’s draft, Terry Rozier would have been a lottery pick.” Oh really? Would Devin Booker, Porzingis, Myles Turner, Winslow, and Ben Simmons be lottery picks in this year’s draft? Because they were lottery picks in the same draft Rozier wasn’t. MJ is paying “lottery pick Rozier” $59 million over the next 3 years.. Cupcheck also said “We have to be careful that if we make an acquisition, it won’t hinder any of the younger player”.. Well signing Rozier hinders Monk and Graham, Mitch. This is the same Charlotte team that has not one player option. Thanks Rich Cho, I thought Mitch would be better, but I’m not quite convinced.

The best case scenario for Charlotte this season is that Malik Monk finds a consistent jumper, Miles Bridges improves on defense and shooting, Dwayne Bacon provides consistent offense, one of Devonte’ Graham and/or Rozier becomes better than a starting caliber NBA point guard, and PJ Washington is a stud. The Hornets are paying Bismack, Batum, Marvin Williams, and MKG a combined $70 million this season. All but Batum come off the books after this season though, so the Hornets should develop their young players, suck, get these old guys off the books, suck, and sign some decent free agents next season/get a top 4 pick. With our luck, that won’t happen somehow. (No offense to Marvin, Batum, Bismack, and MKG, I don’t blame them for getting paid. I blame our shitty front office for overpaying them and the NBA for rigging the Anthony Davis draft in the NBA’s owned-at-the-time-Pelicans favor). I guess it is good Charlotte didn’t resign an aging-undersized point guard to an expensive long-term deal, but I love Kemba… at least he gave me something to cheer for. Now all I have are Miles Bridges dunks, Devonte’ Graham passes, hopes in PJ Washington, and Malik Monk 3s.

The Hornets will be a top-30 team this season…

29. Cleveland Cavs (2019 record 19-63) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 20.5Image result for collin sexton

Key additions: Darius Garland, Dylan Windler, and Kevin Porter Jr.

Key loss(es): Channing Frye and maybe Marquese Chriss/Nik Stauskas.

Projected Starting Lineup: Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson

This team is going to be equally as bad as the Hornets this season. The Cavs have a little hope though.. if they show out Kevin Love and he gets his old form back, Cleveland could trade him for some picks or a young asset. Charlotte isn’t trading Batum for anybody…

I just don’t get drafting ball dominant point guards with back 2 back top 8 draft picks. Maybe Cleveland is trying to do a Portland and have the CJ and Lillard of the East.. but it seems like Garland and Sexton are redundant. John Beilein is the biggest “free agent” acquisition for Cleveland and he is a coach with no NBA experience. Maybe they just wanted him to resign Stauskas.

If I had to guess, I would say that Cleveland fans were happiest this off-season about Kyrie fucking the Celtics over… but that just led to Kemba leaving for Boston so now I’m sad again. Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. are the only players Cleveland have locked up long term. Maybe Windler or Porter Jr. will be the steal of the draft and maybe Garland can shoot it like Steph one day, but this team will struggle again this season, with or without Kevin Love.

28. Memphis Grizzlies (2019 record 33-49) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 23.5

Key additions: Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke, Grayson Allen, Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Tyrus Jones, Josh Jackson, Solomon Hill, and Miles Plumlee. Hill and Plumlee get mentioned because they are making a combined $25 million next season.

Key losses: Delon Wright, Jevon Carter, Mike Conley, CJ Miles, Chandler Parsons, and Julian Washburn

Projected Starting Lineup: Ja Morant, Dillion Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr, and Jonas Valanciunas

The Grizzlies were predicted to win 33.5 games last year, they won 33. That number goes down without Conley, Parsons (joke), and NBA champ Gasol. I actually like the Grizz and their young talent a lot. Grit and Grind is gone, but they have hope. Jaren Jackson Jr was fun to watch last season in his 58 games. He is still a teenager. Ja Morant should be great. He had the ability to take over the end of games, which usually translates to the NBA. I bet on Murray State a lot last season, kid can ball. The Grizzlies should draft a shooter in next year’s draft and they will be set up nicely for the future. Play the young guys. Win about 25 games. Sell some hope. Enjoy the Morant-Jackson Jr Alley-oops.

27. Phoenix Suns (2019 record 19-63) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 23.5

Key additions: Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jevon Carter, Cameron Johnson, Dario Saric, Frank Kamisnky, and Aron Baynes

Key losses: Troy Daniels, Richaun Holmes, Josh Jackson, and TJ Warren

Projected Starting Lineup: Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, Oubre, Dario Saric, Deandre Ayton

Phoenix was predicted to win 29 games last season. They won 19. Ariza and other veterans did not work out. Phoenix quietly had a great off-season. I don’t like giving away an underrated hybrid player in TJ Warren for cash considerations. Warren was quietly a top-20 3-point shooter last season. Resigning Oubre, signing Ricky Rubio, Frank, Dario, and Baynes will help for 1 reason, if not others, playoff experience. Ricky, Oubre, Dario, and Baynes have all been to the playoffs in the last 3 years.. Something that couldn’t be said for previous Phoenix teams that started a lot of rookies.

Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Saric, Frank, Booker, Jerome, and Tyler Johnson can all shoot. This team should have solid spacing. They are setting themselves up nicely for Booker and Ayton’s prime. Cam Johnson may be a reach, but as a UNC fan, the guy is tall, athletic, and can shoot. All good things in today’s NBA. If Booker and Ayton can improve on defense, while still improving on offense as well.. this Phoenix team could make some noise in free agency in two years. Bridges, Johnson, Booker, Ayton, Jerome, and over 50 million in cap space in 2021 seems like a playoff team in 2022. Time will tell.

26. Chicago Bulls (2019 record 22-60) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 25.5

Key additions: Coby White, Daniel Gifford, Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young, and Luke Kornet (I guess)

Key losses: Robin Lopez

Projected Starting Lineup: Coby White, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr.

I really like Chicago’s starting lineup. It is the bench that worries me. This team will have over $50 million in cap space depending on all the rookie options they pick up. LaVine, Porter, Young, and Satoransky are the only players Chicago will be paying over $10 million to next season (assuming they let Dunn and Valentine walk). Lottery picks and hopes should be sold this year. Seems like Chicago should be able to convince some free agents to come, but GarPax may prevent that.. GarPax has done a good job this off-season however. If Chicago’s starters can stay healthy, they will win more than 26 games this season. I don’t know who is getting the final shot on this team when it matters, but they are a talented group of youngsters.

25. New York Knicks (2019 record 17-65) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 25.5

Key additions: Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington, RJ Barrett, Ignas Brazdeikis, Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, and Bobby Portis (Bobby’s It’s Bobby Bitch is still one of my favorite college highlight tapes for a non-star).

Key losses: Emmanuel Mudiay, Mario “I blocked Lebron” Herzonja, DeAndre Jordan, Luke Kornet, and Noah Vonleh

Projected Starting Lineup: Dennis Smith Jr, Reggie Bullock, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson

Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and Payton are all solid backups. I still don’t know what to think of Frank. Barrett is going to be great. The Knicks obviously missed on the big free agents, but they also didn’t tie themselves down with bad contracts (except for the Noah contract that they are still paying, but it already existed). They paid Julius Randle, but he is a young rising star. RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr. are all super-young and should be solid NBA players. James Dolan is still the owner sadly, but the Knicks are not he worse franchise in the league anymore (it seems). Even with Bullock and Ellington, the Knicks lack shooters. Knox and Barrett are going to have to improve in that department. Julius Randle is the only player locked into over $9 million dollars in 2020. They can try for free agents next year with another lottery pick on the way as well. A solid off-season considering no star free agent wanted to go there.

24. Atlanta Hawks (2019 record 29-53) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 30.5

Key additions: Allen Crabbe, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Evan Turner, Jabari Parker, Chandler Parsons, Bruno Fernando, and Damian Jones

Key losses: Dewayne Dedmon, Kent Bazemore, Miles Plumlee, Taurean Prince, and Omari Spellman

Projected Starting Lineup: Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, and Alex Len

Huerter, Collins, and Young all played great last season. They all looked to have some all-star caliber player potential. Young put up some assist/3-point shooting numbers that no rookie ever had. If Luka Doncic wasn’t so damn good, Trae Young would have made more noise than he already did. Atlanta is set up to be a top 8 team in 3 years. This team is long, young, and athletic. Hunter, Reddish, and Collins should all be plus defenders one day in the NBA. We could be watching the beginning of a dynasty in Atlanta this season.

23. Oklahoma City Thunder (2019 record 49-33) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 30.5

Key additions: SGA, and Gallinari (Fun Fact: Gallinari, Belinelli, and.. Reggie Jackson are the only 3 Italian-born players in the NBA)…. Chris Paul for now

Key losses: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Markieff Morris, and Jerami Grant

Projected Starting Lineup: SGA, and who the hell knows? (Westbrook trade pending).

This team is going to go under .500 and have a lot of draft picks. They will have the biggest difference between wins and losses this year. Sorry Thunder fans. Westbrook, Durant, and Harden seems like a long time ago. Sam Presti did an amazing job with the tear-down, but now the build-up begins. Some credit to Paul George for not leaking that he wanted to leave.. That gave Presti more leverage over the Clippers because he knew the Clippers were essentially trading for Paul George and Kawhi in a way. Good business.

22. Washington Wizards (2019 record 32-50) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 30.5

Key additions: Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans, CJ Miles, Isaac Bonga, Ish Smith, and Isaiah Thomas

Key losses: John Wall (injured – Im not convinced he fell down stairs), Trevor Ariza’s corpse, Jeff Green, Jabari Parker, Bobby Ports, Dwight Howard, and Santoransky

Projected Starting Lineup: Ish Smith, Bradley Beal, CJ Miles, Rui Hachimura, and Thomas Bryant

This team would be a lot lower if they didn’t have an all-star in Bradley Beal. Washington should prolly trade him, but it isn’t that simple when you are paying John Wall more than $40 million a year. Beal, Wall, Bryant, Smith, and Rui are the only players with contracts next season, but paying an injured Wall hurts rebuilding plans. Trading Beal for draft picks is prolly the right move, but if they don’t.. this team will win around 30 games and be at the end of the lottery AKA Limbo. Wall’s contract might be the worst contract in the league. Batum is up there too (God my Hornets’ Front Office sucks).

21. Minnesota Timberwolves (2019 record 36-46) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 35.5

Key additions: Shabazz Napier, Tyrus Battle, Jarrett Culver, Treveon Graham, Noah Vonleh, and Jordan Bell

Key losses: Anthony Tolliver, Tyrus Jones, Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, and Dario Saric

Projected Starting Lineup: Jeff (terrible at entry passes) Teague, Josh Okogie, Andrew Wiggins, Noah Vonleh, and Karl-Anthony Towns

As a Hornets fan, I shouldn’t feel bad for any team, but I do feel bad for the Timberwolves. Minnesota had something 3 years ago we have lacked in Charlotte, hope. Sadly for Minnesota, it seems those top draft picks and hope have turned into little success. Supposedly Wiggins has been working harder than any other off-season this time around (I’ll believe it when I see it translate to better efficiency). Jarrett Culver is good at everything, but not great at anything. He settled for jumpers over smaller player in college a little too much for my liking, but he should be a plus defender in the NBA. If he can develop a consistent 3, he will be an all-star. At least Minnesota has their own Duo

20. Dallas Mavericks (2019 record 33-49) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 37.5

Key additions: Delon Wright, Seth Curry, and Boban Marjanovic

Key losses:  Dirk Nowitzki

Projected Starting Lineup: Seth Curry, Luka Doncic, Justin Jackson, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dwight Powell

Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. No Dirk anymore. I will miss him greatly. I still think the Suns should have drafted Luka first overall, but they didn’t ask me. Full disclosure, I did not think Trae Young would be close to as good as Luka, but he seems to be at this point. They may have paid Dwight Powell a lot, but he is a solid 5. I love Luka, Boban, and Justin Jackson prolly more than I should. Dallas is becoming my favorite Western Conference team to cheer for. I’m interested to see how healthy Kristaps is. It never seemed like he wanted to be in New York (lived in a small apartment).. that reminded me of the Carmelo Cribs episode in Denver, he lived in a apartment in Denver.. when I saw that I was like Carmelo aint staying with the Nuggets long. A change of scenery should be good for him. This a fringe playoff team in the difficult West. Dallas can have the tallest lineup in the league with this roster #tallball

19. Detroit Pistons (2019 record 41-41) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 40.5

Key additions: Derrick Rose, Tim Frazier, Tony Snell, Markieff Morris, and Sekou Doumbouya

Key losses: Wayne Ellington, Glenn Robinson III, Ish Smith, and Jon Leuer

Projected Starting Lineup: Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Tony Snell, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond 

This team will have a Derrick Rose 40 point game, Blake Griffin in the all-star game, and the 8th-10th seed in the East. Not trading for Russell Westbrook was a good idea. Tony Snell is an interesting addition. I know Blake can shoot now, but this team still lacks spacing IMO. Drummond is still Drummond, can’t really trade him, can’t really not play him. If he was in the league 20 years ago, he would be talked about a lot more fondly.

18. Orlando Magic (2019 record 42-40) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 40.5

Key additions: Chuma Okeke and Al-Farouq Aminu

Key losses: None

Projected Starting Lineup: DJ Augustin, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Jonathon Isaac, and Nikola Vucevic

Orlando has my least favorite backcourt in the league. Nothing against DJ and Evan, they just don’t get me excited. MCW sucks. Maybe Markelle Fultz will be good one day. Terrance Ross is their only guard I like, when Ross gets hot, it is fun to watch. Steve Clifford is an okay coach and he prolly caught too much shit from Charlotte fans. This team did win 12 more games than Vegas thought they would last year, but Clifford also won 17 more games in his first season in Charlotte than Charlotte had won the year before. I’ll wait another year or two before I decide if Clifford and Orlando are a good fit. Jonathon Isaac, Terrance Ross, and Aaron Gordon are all awesome to watch, but it seems this team is stuck in the purgatory of the NBA.

17. Miami Heat (2019 record 39-43) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 41.5

Key additions: Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, and Meyers Leonard

Key losses: Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, and Josh Richardson

Projected Starting Lineup: Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler, Justise Winslow, James Johnson, and Bam Adebayo

Jimmy Butler is a pretty damn good Dwyane Wade replacement. This team just has no shooting. Dion Waiters and rookie Tyler Herro are Miami’s best shooters.. not good in today’s NBA. I’d be impressed if this team made the playoffs, but it is the East. They are ranked ahead of the Pistons and Magic because Jimmy Butler and Pat Riley’s ability to make midseason moves. Ray Allen is available.

16. New Orleans Pelicans (2019 record 33-49) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 41.5

Key additions: Lonzo Ball and dad, Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, JJ Redick, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, and Derrick Favors

Key losses: Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill, Elfrid Payton, and Julius Randle

Projected Starting Lineup: Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Derrick Favors

Jaxson Hayes, not Zion, had the dunk of Summer League. Lonzo will prolly start, but I think the lineup above will end games. Redick was a great signing that many teams could have used. I hate JJ, but the guy can shoot. David Griffin seems to get the #1 pick wherever he goes. MJ just hire him please. This team has so many pieces I like. Ingram, Jaxson Hayes, and Nickeil should all be great defenders and I could see them all having a Pascal Siakam type playoff run one day. Some think Ingram will be a top-10 two-way player in a few years. I am not that high on him, but the talent is there. Zion is going to dominant this league in 3 years or less if he can stay healthy. Jrue Holiday is one of the best two-way guards in the league. Jahlil Okafor showed some positive signs last season. This is a fringe playoff team this year, but the future is brighter than Gucci Mane’s teeth.

15. Toronto Raptors (2019 record 58-24) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 44.5

Key additions: Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jeferson

Key losses: Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

Projected Starting Lineup: Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol

Raptors made me a lot of money in the playoffs. Kawhi is gone, but this is still a playoff team in my opinion. Other guys are going to have to step up, but I’m really interested to see how Siakam will perform after his great playoff run. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and O.G. Anunoby are solid young pieces to build around. I wouldn’t be shocked if Ibaka, Gasol, and/or Lowry were traded this season. Ibaka seems like a good fit in Miami or LA..

14. Sacramento Kings (2019 record 39-43) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 42.5

Key additions: Cory Joseph, Kyle Guy, Justin James, Trevor Ariza, Dewayne Dedmon, and Richaun Holmes

Key losses: Alec Burks, Frank Mason III, and Willie Cauley-Stein

Projected Starting Lineup: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield (who’s older than MKG and Steven Adams), Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III, and Dewayne Dedmon

I loved watching this team last season. Bagley III was pretty damn good and seems underrated. Barnes got paid, but he is better than people think, he just sucked in those Finals. Fox is one of the most exciting young guards in the league. Buddy and Bogdan can shoot better than most. I think this team will get the 9th seed again.

13. San Antonio Spurs (2019 record 48-34) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 46.5

Key additions: Luka Samanic, Keldon Johnson, Trey Lyles and DeMarre Carroll

Key losses: Davis Bertans

Projected Starting Lineup: Dejounte Murray, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Jakob Poeltl

Murray-White is one of the best defensive backcourts in the league. DeMarre Carroll seems like a very Popovich player. The Marcus Morris signing and unsigning was weird, but it shouldn’t affect the Spurs too much. This team seems destined for the 8th seed this season, which means Pop will get them to the 6th seed. Tony Parker retired as a Hornet and not a Spur, which is weird. He played a year for Charlotte and was like “I’m done with basketball”. Trey Lyles is a solid signing. The Spurs are going to Spurs.

12. Brooklyn Nets (2019 record 42-40) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 47.5

Key additions: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Garrett Temple, Wilson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, and Nicolas Claxton

Key losses: Ed Davis, Jared Dudley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carrol, D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Traveon Graham, and Shabazz Napier

Projected Starting Lineup: Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, and DeAndre Jordan

I don’t know what to think of this Brooklyn team. Kyrie is going to get his shots up. KD is going to be recovering and out all season. Joe Harris is one of the best shooters in the league. DeAndre Jordan is still tall. Some people are predicting the Nets to be a top-3 team in the East.. They need to chill. Maybe next year. That’s all I got.

11. Boston Celtics (2019 record 49-33) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 47.5

Key additions: Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter, Romeo Langford, Tremont Waters, Grant Williams, and Carsen Edwards

Key losses: Terry Rozier, Aron Baynes, Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, and Marcus Morris Jr.

Projected Starting Lineup: Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Enes Kanter 

I’ve always said if Kemba played with Lebron he would be viewed as better than Kyrie, but he played in Charlotte. Now I get to see if my opinion had any weight. I think the Celtics will be better with Kemba if they did still had Horford, but they don’t. The team chemistry has to be better this season. Hayward should be better this season. Brown and Tatum need to take the next step for this team to compete for an East Finals appearance. Philly and Milwaukee are not going anywhere.

10. Indiana Pacers (2019 record 48-34) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 50.5

Key additions: Malcom Brogdon, TJ McConnell, Jeremy Lamb, TJ Warren, and Goga Bitadze

Key losses: Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans, Cory Joseph, Wesley Matthews, Kyle O’Quinn, and Thaddeus Young

Projected Starting Lineup: Malcolm Brogdon, Victor Oladipo, Jeremy Lamb, TJ Warren, and Myles Turner

The Pacers had my favorite off-season in the East. Brogdon is a great utility player. Jeremy Lamb can add some needed scoring. TJ Warren was quietly a top-20 3-point shooter last season, who they got for cash. TJ McConnell is such an Indiana player it isn’t even funny. Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner need to prove they can play together. This is a playoff team, but prolly not much more.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (2019 record 53-29) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 49.5

Key additions: Kent Bazemore, Mario Hezonja, Nassir Little, Anthony Tolliver, and Hassan Whiteside

Key losses: Al-Farouq Aminu, Seth Curry, Enes Kanter, Jake Layman, Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, and Evan Turner

Projected Starting Lineup: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Kent Bazemore, Rodney Hood, and Hassan Whiteside 

Portland is in purgatory. Lillard’s wave was an all-time Portland playoff moment. If Kawhi didn’t hit that game-winner against Philly and then win the title, Lillard’s shot would have been the playoff moment last season. Seems like Portland always gets one-upped. I love McCollum too. The Whiteside addition is interesting, but Blazers are Pacers-West. A lock for the playoffs, but not much more.

8. Denver Nuggets (2019 record 54-28) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 50.5

Key additions: Bol Bol, Jerami Grant, and Michael Porter Jr

Key losses: Trey Lyles and Isaiah Thomas

Projected Starting Lineup: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, and Nikola Jokic

Jokic and Murray arrived sooner than many thought. Gary Harris and other role players need to stay healthy. Michael Porter Jr needs to see the court. I expect a similar season to last for this team, but they could be two or three years from contending for a title seriously. My Denver friend thinks they can win it this year.. I’m not convinced.

7. Golden State Warriors (2019 record 57-25) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 50.5

Key additions: D’Angelo Russell, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III, Omari Spellman, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Jordan Poole

Key losses: Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook, DeMarcus Cousins, and Damain Jones

Projected Starting Lineup: Steph Curry, D’Angelo Russell, Klay Thompson (Alfonzo McKinnie or Glenn Robinson III), Draymond Green, and Kevin Looney

Steph, Russell, Green, and Looney are enough to win 50 games, even in the difficult East. Steph is going to put up insane numbers this season and I am here for it. I have a bet with my friend that the Warriors will have more wins than the Nets this season.. I am super high on D’Angelo Russell is what that means… Maybe it is just because he knocked out my VCU team in the NCAA tournament when he was at Ohio State.

6. LA Lakers (2019 record 37-45) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 52.5

Key additions: Anthony Davis, Quinn Cook, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Troy Daniels, Jared Dudley, and DeMarcus Cousins

Key losses: Reggie Bullock, Mike Muscala, Lonzo Ball, Isaac Bonga, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Moritz Wagner, and Jemerrio Jones

Projected Starting Lineup: Lebron James, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, and Anthony Davis

People already talk about the Lakers enough, but Lebron at the 1 will be fun. Can Kuzma shoot? Can Quinn Cook take on a bigger role and still shoot well without Steph, Klay, and KD taking all the attention? Is Avery Bradley still above-average (no Doc Rivers just loves him)? Danny Green and Troy Daniels are needed shooters. I still don’t like this team’s roster, but Lebron should be out to prove he isn’t done yet..

5. Houston Rockets (2019 record 53-29) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 53.5

Key additions: Russell Westbrook, Deyonta Davis, and Shamorie Ponds

Key losses: Chris Paul, Kenneth Faried, Nene, and Shumpert

Projected Starting Lineup: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Gerald Green, PJ Tucker, and Clint Capela

Morey does it again. Westbrook and Harden will play out the scene in Semi-Pro when Will Ferrell just keeps passing the ball and asking for it back. Who will get more triple-doubles? Who will take more shots? Who is going to rebound on this team if Capela gets hurt? I don’t see this team seriously competing for a Finals appearance, but they should do great in the regular season.

4. Utah Jazz (2019 record 50-32) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 53.5

Key additions: Mike Conley, Emmanuel Mudiay, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jeff Green, and Ed Davis

Key losses: Raul Neto, Grayson Allen, Ricky Rubio, Jae Crowder, Derrick Favors, and Kyle Korver

Projected Starting Lineup: Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Rudy Gobert 

Bojan Bogdanovic, Conley, and Ed Davis make this team a lot better. No offense to Favors, Crowder, and Rubio. Bojan is a knockdown shooter, Conley is a great point guard, and Davis is a great bench big. They just have players that fit better now. Quinn Snyder is still my favorite batman villain NBA coach. I think this Jazz team gets the 2nd seed in the West, but loses in the second round of the playoffs to the Warriors once Klay comes back.

3. Philadelphia 76ers (2019 record 51-31) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 56.5

Key additions: Josh Richardson, Al Horford, Kyle O’Quinn, Raul Neto, and Matisse Thybulle

Key losses: Jimmy Butler, Boban Marjanovic, TJ McConnell, JJ Redick, and Jonathon Simmons

Projected Starting Lineup: Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid 

Horford is a better fit than Jimmy Butler. Now Ben Simmons and Embiid can dominate the ball without having to worry about Jimmy Butler. Nothing against Butler, but I think Simmons and Embiid need room on the court to grow into the stars that they already are. Josh Richardson averaged a career-high 16.6 point a game last season in Miami. He is a solid two guard. The 76ers are going to play some Tall Ball this season and I am here for it. The loss of JJ Redick hurts, but if they can find a shooter before the deadline, this team could make the finals. They were a Kawhi rim-rattler away from going to overtime in Game 7 against the Champs last year..

2. Milwaukee Bucks (2019 record 60-22) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 58.5

Key additions: Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, and Thanasis Antetokounmpo

Key losses: Tim Frazier, Nikola Mirotic, Malcolm Brogdon, and Tony Snell

Projected Starting Lineup: Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Pat Connaughton, Giannis, and Brooke Lopez

The Bucks paid Middleton, Brooke Lopez, and George Hill this off-season, but let Brogdon and Mirotic go. Brogdon leaving hurts. If Giannis can shoot 3s better this season, they are going to be title-contenders. The MVP is too good to not have them as favorites in the East, although I like Philly’s lineup more. Milwaukee won 12 more game than Vegas thought they would last year. Giannis was already a star before last season, but MVP in year 6 is impressive. He only shot 25.6% from 3 last year.. and still won MVP. Even with 3-point shooting being the emphasis in the NBA, the dunk is still the best shot in the league.. and Giannis can dunk from anywhere.

1. Los Angeles Clippers (2019 record 48-34) – 2020 Projected Win Total O/U 57.5

Key additions: Kawhi Leonard, Maurice Harkless, Paul George, Mfiondu Kabengele, and Terance Mann

Key losses: Wilson Chandler, Garrett Temple, Danilo Gallinari, and SGA

Projected Starting Lineup: Patrick Beverly, Landry Shamet, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Montrezl Harrell 

Leonard, George and Patrick Beverley are some of the league’s best defenders. What makes MJ better than Lebron to me is that killer instinct that Kawhi seems to have as well. It is fun to watch Kawhi take over games with his offense and defense. Maurice Harkless and Mfiondu Kabengele add new depth. Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Landry Shamet add already there depth. I love this roster. I think they need a stretch-4 type, but that should be easy to secure at some point in the season. Maurice Harkless can be a 4 in small ball lineups, but he only shot 27% from 3 last year. If the Clippers could add someone like Kevin Love, Dario Saric, or Mirotic.. I would love their lineup flexibility even more. As it stands, they are the best team in the league on paper going into the season.

What Kawhi did to grown men last year alone below..

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