Three Dark Horses After A Wild NBA Off-Season

July 31, 2019

Rohan Dang
Only a few weeks removed from the Finals and the entire landscape of the NBA has changed as one of the most spectacular off-seasons has now neared its end. 

Multiple all-stars will don new jerseys in October, and with that several new teams are seated atop the NBA hierarchy. However, while there are a few clear-cut favorites to hoist the 2020 Larry O’Brien Trophy, there are also some dark horses to keep an eye on. 

San Antonio Spurs

“...continuity is a valuable currency in a league that loves change.”

The Spurs are coached by arguably the greatest head coach in history. They are bringing back all-stars DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. They are adding the feisty defensive point guard Dejounte Murray, who was lost to injury before last season started. And while they did not make a splash in free agency, continuity is a valuable currency in a league that loves change.

People quickly forget that 2018-2019 was DeMar’s first season with the team, and it was bound to have some bumps. Despite this, the Spurs still came a few points, and one huge brain fart, away from knocking off the 2nd seeded Nuggets in the First Round. 

Their chemistry and synergy will only get better as the team brings back several key players. And with Dejounte rejoining the team and assuming key defensive and point guard duties, DeMar can go back to playing the position that he was most comfortable with.

Brooklyn Nets

“With or without Durant, Brooklyn is still a force to be reckoned with.”

The earliest and one of the biggest winners of the off-season, the Brooklyn Nets secured Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in what has become their most successful free agency ever. 

Durant, however, will likely be out for the entire 2019-2020 season, leading most to write off the Nets next season (they are only 12th in ESPN’s Power Rankings). With or without Durant, Brooklyn is still a force to be reckoned with. 
D’Angelo Russell led Brooklyn to the 6th seed this past year, and the Nets, a team that prides themselves on depth, only had to sacrifice Russell to obtain their new superstar duo. 

Coach Atkinson, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and the rest of this gutsy core will return next year, meaning that the Nets will essentially run the same lineups with Kyrie Irving at the helm instead of DLo. 

No disrespect to D’Angelo, but Irving comes to Brooklyn as one of the top point guards in the league, a true dynamo on the court. Inserting him into the lineup over Russell can only make the team better. Even if Durant does not step on the court next season, this Brooklyn Nets squad cannot be dismissed by anyone.

Golden State Warriors

“Everybody thinks it’s kind of the end of us. That’s just not smart. We’re not done yet.” 

These were Draymond Green’s key words shortly after the Warriors’ lost in game 6. Obviously, the Warriors lost an immensely talented and irreplaceable player in Kevin Durant, but the original core remains intact. 

Let’s not forget that this is the trio that not only brought home Golden State’s first chip in over 40 years, but also put together a historic 73-win season. Stephen Curry is still one of the greatest shooters and scorers in the game, and while Draymond’s antics might be questionable, his defensive prowess and playmaking ability are undeniable. 

The Warriors will revert back to their signature pace-and-space style, with D’Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley-Stein fitting in quite nicely while Klay Thompson is on the mend. With the league sitting more balanced now than it has been in nearly 15 years, the Warriors have the experience and talent to make a deep postseason run. 

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