By Quincy Williams
This year’s NBA off-season took the world by storm with a bunch of crazy trades and free agency deals. Here’s part 1 of this year’s NBA Preview.
New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans are far and away from the most interesting team in the association this year. They have a fascinating young core that includes two of the most hopeful reclamation projects in the entire league, in Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. But the person who is on everyone’s radar coming into this new season is Zion Williamson. The 6’6 power forward, who plays like the Tasmanian devil in Chuck Barkley’s body, is sure to have everyone’s eyeballs glued to screens this year in anticipation of his physics-defying dunks. Add to this former All-star Jrue Holiday and intriguing first-rounders Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker and you have a dark-horse contender for a Western-conference playoff spot. Side-note, I went to high-school with Jaxson Hayes, the 6’11 former University of Texas standout center. He was a freshman when I was a senior, and he was, maybe 6 foot. His growth spurt was incredible to watch from afar.
The Brooklyn Nets were the feel-good story of the NBA last season going 42-40 built around a young core that included D’Angelo Russell, Caris Levert, and Joe Harris. That’s all set to change this year with the acquisitions of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. All the feel-good organic-chemistry and joie de vivre of the former team will be replaced with win-now murmurings and side-eye memes. The serial killer of chemistry, Kyrie Irving, will be sure to try to wreck whatever positive vibes there are with his passive-aggressive declarations in the press. The most interesting guy on the roster, purely basketball related, you ask? Caris Levert, the oft-injured dynamo. The guy can flat-out play. But the best ability is availability. His fourth year in the league will be a prove-it season. He was injured last year, but came back strong for the playoffs and averaged 21 points a game while shooting 50% from the field. If he stays healthy look for him to be a great complement to Irving’s ball-dominant genius. This team is in a holding pattern until Durant recovers from a torn achilles; however, a positive season would include Levert making the “leap” and no one throwing Kyrie Irving into the Atlantic.
Anyone concerned about the Houston Rockets “fit”, as relates to Russ and Harden, needs to stay off the WEEED (Stephen A. Smith voice). The Rockets will be great. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the era of super-teams and dynamic-duos, its that talent usually wins out. The two former MVP’s will figure out the tempo and spacing that works for them, and then the league better be on high alert. I don’t know if there has ever been a more dynamic backcourt than Westbrook and Harden. Add Clint Capela, the junkyard dog P.J. Tucker, the plucky Austin Rivers, and Mr. 18 and 5, better known as (Eric Gordon), and you have a tough squad. Look, we all know the Lakers are probably going to be the tops in the West. Anthony Davis and LeBron James are very formidable. But, and it is a big but, LeBron is on the wrong side of 35! And what has Anthony Davis proved in his career? I don’t think there’d be anything cooler than to see Russ and Harden dismantle the NBA this season, one-step-back and isolation at a time.