FSM’s New NBA Preview 2019-2020



NBA preview
Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


The Toronto Raptors are the defending champs, that’s still weird to write. It’s not “cool” to be a New York Knick, but it is cool to be on the Brooklyn Nets. Zion went to New Orleans, but his knees are going to keep him out for an indefinite stretch. Oh, and let’s not forget the city of Los Angeles had an arms race to see who could build the best super team. It was a wild off-season, but the NBA regular season is finally here! There’s going to be plenty of headlines, highlights, and drama over the next 82 games. Here’s what to keep an eye on!


Contenders & Pretenders:

Plenty of teams made significant moves via trade and free agency, but not every team is going to be able to bring home a title. As I see it, there’s only a handful of franchises that can get it done come June.




Photo Credit: NBA.com

Los Angeles Lakers

Pairing LeBron James and Anthony Davis by themselves are enough to make any avid Lakeshow supporter giddy. When healthy, they’re arguably the two best players in the league. As a tandem, they’re going to be damn near unstoppable. The Lakers also have Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, and Dwight Howard as role players alongside them. That’s an embarrassment of riches, and one of the deepest teams the league has seen in a long while. It’s like the Lakers under Phil Jackson. You have your definitive superstars in James and Davis, and a core of the best role players money can buy. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a team better suited to win it all…

Until you look across the hall at Staples Center, that is.


Los Angeles Clippers

Photo Credit- FoxSportsAsia

Giannis Antetokounmpo might have won the MVP a year ago, but Kawhi Leonard showed he was the best player in basketball on his way to earning a ring for the Raptors. The NBA is an analytics nightmare right now, but Boardman gets paid because he plays at all levels and every facet of the game. When Leonard shunned the Lakers for the Clippers, he also convinced his new organization that Paul George should come along for the ride too. George was an MVP candidate in OKC, and he’s playing the best basketball of his career right now. James and Davis are the apex predators in terms of duos, but Leonard and George are carnivorous monsters themselves. Patrick Beverly, Montrezl Harrell, and 6th Man of the Year scoring savant Lou Williams fill out a great core that will have the Clippers in contention.

The East should fear The Deer…


Photo Credit- IBTimes

Milwaukee Bucks

Perhaps the best thing Kawhi Leonard did for basketball, in general, showed that you don’t need 5 or 6 All-Stars on a team to get a ring. Giannis Antetokounmpo can follow that blueprint because he’s the most dominant force in the NBA at the moment. We’ve seen it countless times as The Greek Freak grabs a rebound, dribbles 90 feet in about four steps, and then he ends some hapless defenders’ life on the other end of the court with a devastating dunk.

He’s unguardable. He’s also not alone. The Bucks might not be loaded with stars, as I mentioned above, but they have enough of a supporting cast where their superstar doesn’t have to do everything by himself. Sharpshooter Kris Middleton is ready to catch and shoot his way into another All-Star game appearance. Also, Eric Bledsoe, the Lopez twins, and Kyle Korver are around to help shoulder the burden. The MVP was an excellent addition to Antetokounmpo’s trophy case, but he wants to add the Larry O’Brien Trophy to it as well.




Photo Credit- ClutchPoints

Houston Rockets

Shooting off one leg looks excellent in open gym or the Drew League, but how’s it going to look in a seven-game series in a loaded Western Conference playoff race? That’s the real question. There’s no denying that James Harden is an elite scoring guard. The Beard can drop 40+ on anyone. Russell Westbrook is just as deadly. He’s a walking triple-double. The problem with that is they’re both ball-dominant guards who need about 30 shots each to be effective. Communism works great on paper, and this duo does too. The reality of the situation is that outside of Harden and Westbrook, there’s not much going on in Houston. Eric Gordon is an excellent complementary piece, but Nene, Ryan Anderson, and Gerald Green are closer to playing in the Big 3 than they are for a title.


Photo Credit-LibertyBallers.com

Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons made a 3 pointer in the preseason, and the internet lost its collective mind. Precisely why you can’t take the 76ers very seriously. Simmons is, of course, very dynamic with the ball in his hands, but he’s also painfully one dimensional because of his shortcomings shooting the ball. Joel Embiid, on the other hand, is the best big man in the NBA currently, but Jimmy Butler and JJ Reddick are gone, and the depth isn’t what it was while The Process was processing. Tobias Harris helps form a palpable trio, but adding Al Horford isn’t enough to get Philly to that next level


Boston Celtics

Photo Credit- HoopsLifeTV

Some think Kyrie Irving poisoned the locker room last year in Boston, while others thought the Celtics were overhyped. Whatever the case might be, Kemba Walker is the new point guard, and Irving is going to have to wait patiently for Kevin Durant to get healthy from his Achilles injury in Brooklyn. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will need to take the next step in their evolutionary trajectory, and Gordon Hayward will have to return to his form when he played for the Utah Jazz if the Celtics want to raise banner number 18 to the rafters. Since that’s the case, there are too many ifs and variables for a team that underachieved so badly a season ago to get to that top spot.


Must-Watch TV:

There’s plenty of teams worth watching even if they aren’t vying for championships. Night in and night out there’s at least a half dozen games that can be wildly entertaining given the way offenses can generate points. Whether you have the NBA League Pass package or are stream hunting, tune-in for these teams and players.


Must Watch Teams:


Photo Credit- Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors

KD is gone, Klay Thompson is rehabbing, and Andre Igoudala is wishing he was playing for a contender, but that doesn’t mean the Dubs won’t be putting on a show. Steph Curry is set to remind everyone why he was the league’s first-ever unanimous MVP. While Steph is scorching nets from 35 feet with regularity, he has a new backcourt mate in D’Angelo Russell. Coming off an All-Star season for the Nets, Russell gives Golden State a potent one-two punch while they wait for Thompson to heal up. All the while, Draymond Green will remain everyone’s favorite player to hate.


Denver Nuggets

The Joker terrorizes Gotham City, but Nikola Jokic terrorizes opposing frontcourts. His game is unorthodox, savvy, and as unique as you’ll see. Jamal Murray is a nice balance to that as a new age point guard who can put up points in bunches. Their role players Will Barton, Paul Milsap, and Gary Harris are a balanced attack that makes Denver dangerous against anyone. If Michael Porter Jr can live up to his potential, you’re looking at a darkhorse squad who has the talent to win the NBA championship.


Photo Credit- NBC Sports

Portland Trailblazers

When your backcourt can go for 50 points an evening, you’re must-see-tv. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance, and they’re also one of the best 2 or 3 backcourts in the entire league. The Blazers will now be able to put out a twin tower frontcourt to pair alongside them in Hassan Whiteside and Jusuf Nurkic. This team can get hot, stay hot, and make another deep run in the playoffs.


Miami Heat

The Bulls didn’t want him, he was a lousy teammate in Minnesota, and the 76ers couldn’t keep him. After all of that, Jimmy Butler ended up as Dwayne Wade’s successor in Miami. Personality and franchise hopping aside, there’s no denying that Butler is one of the best two-way players in the sport. When you couple that with the Heat’s young core of Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo,  and high flyer Derrick Jones Jr, that’s a team worth watching. If Kentucky rookie Tyler Herro can build off his hot shooting in the preseason, lookout.


Dallas Mavericks

Unicorns are real. It turns out they’re Latvian, 7’3, and can knock down 3 pointers like a sniper. Kristaps Porzingis now looks more like a He-Man figurine than the stick figure he resembled in New York. Almost as rare as a unicorn is reigning Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic. The 6’7 point guard can score on anyone in the world. With these two on the same team, there’s going to be innumerable ESPN Sports Center Top 10 plays where they’re the focal points.


Must Watch Players:

We all know that LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard will all be making their cases for the NBA MVP award. Other superstars like Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, Paul George, and Kyrie Irving will be trying to fit in with new teammates. But other players will be capturing our imaginations, and wowing us themselves. Here are my Top 5 Must Watch Players that don’t necessarily get the credit they deserve.


1. Devin Booker

The Suns are a laughing stock, but they have one of the most prolific scoring guards in basketball. Booker is apart of the vaunted 70 point club. He put up career bests 26.6 ppg and 6.8 APG a year ago. Despite those monster numbers, Booker has yet to make an All-Star game. Look for that to change this season.


Photo Credit- Daily Herald

2. Zach Lavine

The Bulls have one of the most exciting young cores in all of basketball, but their best player, by far, is Lavine. Last season Lavine averaged 23.7 ppg, 4.7 RPG, and 4.5 APG on 46% shooting; all career bests. One of the best dunkers on the planet, Lavine, has turned himself into a dynamic scorer who can do it at all three levels. He’ll be even better this year.




3. Buddy Hield

The problem with these small-market franchises is you sometimes forget that they have great players. You might have seen Hield making the show me the money hand gesture to Kings GM Vlade Divac Sunday, and he has every reason for deserving a payday, which he received Monday (4 years/$94 million). Last year Hield scored 20.7 ppg, brought down 5 RPG while shooting 42% from 3 point range. If the Kings want to get back to the playoffs, they’ll give that guy a new contract.


4. Trae Young

It was a razor-close race for Rookie of the Year. Doncic seemed to be running away with it, but Young went nuts after the All-Star break posting 25 ppg, nine APG, and 4.4 RPG. Young only shot 32% from beyond the arc for the season, but he can improve upon that. He’ll likely improve on everything, which is a scary thought.


5. Victor Oladipo

This would be a comeback for the ages if Oladipo can return to form. After rupturing his quad in his right knee, Oladipo missed the entire season for the Pacers a year ago. The season prior, he was having a coming-out party in Indiana. Thought to be done after a forgetful stint as Russell Westbrook’s sidekick in OKC, he exploded for 23.1 ppg, 5.2 RPG, and 4.3 APG in 2017-18. If he’s 100% after he heals up, he could duplicate that.


Champion and Awards Predictions:


NBA Champion-

Los Angeles Clippers

After a tough seven-game series against the Lakers, Kawhi Leonard gets his 2nd ring in as many seasons. Leonard also wins Finals MVP.



Kawhi Leonard- LAC

It’ll come down to Kawhi, Giannis, and LeBron. After the Clippers earn the top seed in the west, Leonard wins it narrowly.


Defensive Player of the Year-


Photo Credit- sportsnet.ca

Pascal Siakam- TOR

It could easily be Anthony Davis, but that would be too easy and no fun!





Rookie of the Year-

Coby White- Chi

If Zion is healthy, he wins it hands down. The problem is I don’t see that happening. It’s a loaded race, but White wins it over Herro.


6th Man of the Year-

Photo Credit- USA Today

Kyle Kuzma- LAL

It’s no fun to pick Lou Williams every single year. Besides, I think with the Lakers’ depth, Kuzma is best suited to come off the bench and provide a scoring spark.




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