NBA 2019-20: After frenzied off-season, taking stock of league's championship contenders
Tumultuous and exhilarating, the 2019 off-season saw superstars swap teams, franchises become overnight title favourites and the balance of the NBA shift. Ahead of the tip-off for the 2019-20 season, here's a look at the league's power centres:
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George decided to join forces to play for the LA Clippers, the woebegone poorer cousins of the LA Lakers.
With the off-season activity, franchises like LA Clippers and Brooklyn Nets have emerged as contenders for the NBA title overnight.
2019 NBA Finalists, Warriors and Raptors, have had to contend with losing their biggest superstars in Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.
The 7.1 magnitude earthquake that shook California on the 6th of July should have been the biggest news story that day. After all, it was the biggest earthquake to hit the area in two decades. But it wasn't.
That day, the news cycle in Los Angeles was dominated by the twin seismic shocks of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George deciding to join forces to play for the LA Clippers, the woebegone poorer cousins of the LA Lakers, who had been courting Leonard to join hands with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Those twin moves changed the dynamics of the league, not to mention the future of both LA franchises, in one single swoop.
Call it tumultuous or exhilarating, the 2019 NBA off-season has been one loaded with more action than most regular seasons. Nothing about the NBA will be the same again. Franchises like Clippers and Brooklyn Nets emerged as contenders overnight (albeit, with Kevin Durant's injury likely to see him miss most of the regular season, the Nets may not be doing much contending until next season). Last season's NBA finalists — Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors — have had to contend with losing arguably their biggest superstars in Durant and Leonard.
In the summer of 2016, when Durant decided to move to the Warriors, the complexion of the NBA changed. The Warriors, already laden with talented superstars like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, went on to sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0 in the NBA Finals in 2017 and 2018 to claim their third title in four years.
Two summers later, Leonard, disgruntled with the San Antonio Spurs, moved to Canada to play for the Toronto Raptors on a one-year deal. This move again changed the dynamics of the league as the Raptors beat the Warriors, the overwhelming favourites, to clinch the first NBA Championship in their history.
This season, though, the tectonic plates of the league have shifted at a dizzying pace as stars like Durant, Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Davis, George and Russell Westbrook have moved teams looking for superstar link-ups, which they hope will yield an NBA title. The frenzied off-season movement has created multiple power centres in the league.