As the 2019-20 season gets going in earnest, the league is as wide open as its been in years. Multiple teams will be vying for a championship, but that’s not on the cards for all of them.
There are, however, goals for every franchise on the basketball court, so a couple of Double Clutch staff got together to pick two teams that have rather intriguing regular seasons ahead of them.
San Antonio Spurs
by Huw Hopkins
2018-19 record: 48-34
2019-20 Double Clutch prediction: 44-38
Oh, you’re counting out the Spurs, are you? Good luck with that. After one of the toughest years on record for head coach Gregg Popovich, personally and professionally, the best coach in the history of the NBA is ready to enter the final stage of his career with a fresh mindset to bounce back from a seventh place finish at the FIBA Word Cup with Team USA.
Dejounte Murray is back at the helm to put everyone in their correct position, and this team is going to out-rebound, out-hustle and out-defend nearly everybody. Davis Bertans is a loss, especially as it was done to sign Marcus Morris, who reneged on his deal (to sign with the Knicks?!), but the additions of DeMarre Carroll and Trey Lyles will help.
They’ll be fighting for 50 wins again.
Key Acquisitions: DeMarre Carroll, Trey Lyles
Key Losses: Davis Bertans
by Matthew Wellington
2018-19 record: 51-31
2019-20 Double Clutch prediction: 56-26
A busy summer saw Philadelphia strengthen what was an already great team. Veteran center Al Horford provides them with a great deal of frontcourt flexibility, especially considering Joel Embiid’s injury history. And former Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson takes a leisurely stroll into the starting two spot left vacant by the departed JJ Reddick.
This now gives the Sixers a two-way guard to complement Ben Simmons in the backcourt. So, thanks in large part to some smart moves and to Kawhi Leonard leaving Toronto, Philadelphia now appears to be the favorite to emerge from the East and reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2001. Making this season, a pretty fun time to be a Sixers fan. Questions still remain regarding their bench rotations and depth, but this team is more than capable of addressing these concerns.
Key Acquisitions: Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Raul Neto
Key Losses: JJ Redick (Pelicans), TJ McConnell (Pacers), Jimmy Butler (Heat)
by Matthew Wellington
2018-19 record: 50-32
2019-20 Double Clutch prediction: 54-28
The Jazz made some fantastic moves this summer, which have given them their best shot a title since the John Stockton and Karl Malone era. The additions of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanović in particular standout and provide this team with a great deal of flexibility this season, not to mention two players who posted career years last season.
Combine this with the fact that Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell all took part in this summer’s FIBA World Cup, and the Jazz look set to do something they haven’t traditionally done – hit the season rolling. The problem for them just so happens to be that the rest of the West also improved this summer. Teams that were far behind them caught up, and teams that were ahead of them pushed further ahead.
So, can the newly partnered backcourt of Mitchell and Conley lead this team to a new height? I wouldn’t bet against it.
Key Acquisitions: Mike Conley, Jeff Green, Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis, Emmanuel Mudiay
Key Losses: Derrick Favors (Pelicans), Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, Ricky Rubio (Suns)
by Huw Hopkins
2018-19 record: 29-53
2019-20 Double Clutch prediction: 34-46
Give me all of the Atlanta Hawks games. I’ll take all of them. Do I think they’re going to win more than 35 of them? Probably not.
Are they going to be the most fun team in the league? Very possibly.
Whether it’s Trae Young taking stupid shots and making a ton of them, John Collins rolling to the rim like a steam train, Kevin Huerter getting sexy with the basketball, or just seeing Vince Carter dunk at the age of 74, I am here for it.
The great thing about this team is that veterans like Carter and Evan Turner should keep the young Hawks focused on their prey. We could see some good basketball here. Let’s hope Atlanta fans turn up for the games to enjoy it.
Key Acquisitions: Jabari Parker, Evan Turner, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish
Key Losses: Taurean Prince, Dewayne Dedmon, Kent Bazemore
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