By: James Brown
Headline Graphic: Darrell Owens-LMS Network
Here are my previews for the NBA restart. Now three out of the five teams I covered did not make it to the bubble, but I will give you outlooks for them next season. Enjoy so glad basketball is back!
The Atlanta Hawks finished the season 20-47, finding themselves in the bottom of the Eastern conference and heading back to the NBA Draft Lottery. Second year guard Trae Young led the team in scoring with 29.6 points per game on 43.7% shooting from the field and 36.1% from behind the arc. Young’s performance this season got him his first All-Star bid. The Hawks will be looking to build upon their young core this offseason. They made a trade for C Clint Capela and hope that he will pair nicely with John Collins in the front court. Atlanta will also hope that rookies De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish can continue to develop. The Hawks will be looking to possibly sneak into the post season next year maybe as a 7th or 8th seed.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers arrived in Orlando with championship aspirations on their mind. In their first season together in Los Angeles Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are looking to take the Clippers to new heights. Leonard and George led the way for the Clippers with 26.9 and 21 points per game respectively. The Clippers have built their team on shooting, defense, and toughness. They have depth at all positions on the court and enough veteran experience to handle any opposing team from the East or West. With Doc Rivers at the helm a coach that has plenty of playoff experience look for the Clippers to go deep into the playoffs this postseason. The Clippers are in Orlando to claim the NBA throne and the city of Los Angeles.
New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans are at the NBA Bubble and looking to snatch a playoff spot. Boosted by the stellar play of Brandon Ingram and Rookie of the Year hopeful Zion Williamson the Pelicans have emerged as a surprise team this year despite the loss of Anthony Davis. Ingram has had a breakout year of 24.3 points per game on 46.6% shooting from the field and 38.7% from 3-point range, propelling Ingram to his first All-Star appearance. The Pelicans’ late season push has also been boosted by the presence of rookie phenom Zion Williamson. While Zion missed the start of the season with a knee injury, he has returned to make his mark on the game. Zion is averaging 23.6 points per game on 58.9% shooting. Zion’s health will be the key to the Pelicans playoff push, if he can remain healthy, he will be able to help JJ Redick keep his playoff streak alive.
The Detroit Pistons finished the season 20-46 and will be looking to continue the rebuilding of the team through the Draft Lottery. The Pistons may be looking to completely strip the team down and start over after trading big man Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons hired Troy Weaver to be their newly appointed General Manager and have tasked him with returning to Pistons to championship caliber. A resurging Derrick Rose led the team in scoring this season averaging 18.1 points per game. Blake Griffin looked to be off to another promising season until his year was derailed by knee injury and consequential surgery following. Weaver will have some interesting choices this offseason, should he trade the assets he has and plan for the future or do you keep the core you have intact and look to add on. Either way the Pistons have a ways to go before they’ll return to the glory days.
The Chicago Bulls finished the season a disappointing 22-43 and will be back in the Draft Lottery again this offseason. Many thought the Bulls could perhaps compete for a bottom playoff seed, but injuries derailed much of their key players and ultimately their season. The Bulls also had their share of turmoil in the front office leading to the firing of General Manager Gar Forman and the reassignment of John Paxson. The Bulls hired Arturas Karnisovas to be the Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. Karnisovas has appointed Marc Eversley as the new General Manager as they look to return the Chicago Bulls to the glory days of the 90’s where they ruled the NBA behind the career of Michael Jordan. Eversley first task should be to convince guard Zach LaVine that Chicago is they place for him. LaVine led the way for the Bulls this season posting 25.5 points per game on 45% shooting from the field and 38% from the arc. The Bulls have a decent young core to build around in LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and rookie Coby White. If Chicago can convince LaVine to stay, add another wing player, and stay healthy next season they should snap their 3 year post season drought.