The NBA just completed the longest and craziest season in league history. When looking back, it was more off the court than ever before. With the passing of the legendary Kobe Bryant and the worldwide pandemic halting play, forcing the postponement of games and the eventual bubble. Next season could be a wild one for different reasons, we have an in-depth look at some of the NBA bottom feeders that’ll be in the running for the Larry O’Brien trophy. We’ll start with a team we all know will be there.
The Brooklyn Nets not only have a generational talent and two-time Finals MVP in Kevin Durant coming back from injury, but they also have a walking bucket known as Kyrie Irving healthy going into the upcoming season. With DeAndre Jordan playing his role that’s a legitimate contender in the east, not to mention other role players in Harris and Levert.
They also have a solid trade piece in Spencer Dinwiddie. Many consider him to be the guy who’ll be on the outside looking in once all the stars are back playing consistent minutes. If that’s the case, he’s a solid contributor for any team needing help on the perimeter. He’s a 6’5 combo guard who put up 20.6 ppg 6.8 apg along with 3.5 rpg. That’ll get you a lot on the trade market if the Nets decide to shop him.
But it all comes down to how well Irving and Durant mesh, as there has been turmoil in the past with Irving and other teammates. And we all know how the Durant situation turned out last time he played alongside a ball-dominant point guard with the Thunder. But in the East, even some turmoil shouldn’t keep them out of the conference finals.
The Suns weren’t on anyone’s radar at the beginning of the season last year or entering the bubble for that matter. With an 8-0 showing in play-in games in Orlando, they changed that narrative pretty fast.
Devin Booker, one of the best pure scorers in the league, showed the ability to lead his team not just in scoring, but to wins. They also have a young core set to grow and compete next season. Deandre Ayton, 22, averages 18.2 ppg and 11.5 rpg. Devin Booker, 24, averages 26.6 ppg, 6.5 apg, and 4.5 rpg. Kelly Oubre, 24, averages 18.7 ppg and 6.4 rpg. Mikal Bridges, 24, averages 9.1 ppg and 4.1 rpg. This is a group of rising Suns. They also have a veteran point guard in Ricky Rubio to ignite the offense. They will look to add a proven competitor to the roster to bolster the lineup and bring leadership.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are in a similar situation to the Brooklyn Nets. They have huge star power in the Splash Brothers. But just like Durant, Klay Thompson hasn’t suited up for his squad since the 2019 NBA finals. As for his partner on the perimeter, Steph Curry, the only unanimous league MVP in league history, that most recognize as the greatest shooter in the world. He missed extended time as well nursing a broken hand.
So they secured the number two draft pick, a coveted piece for any team. But they have different plans. They’re not looking for a development project, they are looking to get back to full form and their championship ways immediately. They pulled off a sign and trade with the Nets in the Durant deal, bringing in Russell then sent him to Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins and a top-three protected pick in 2021.
They’ll be willing to part ways with Wiggins, their number two pick and Minnesota pick next year for a talented veteran who can help win now. They will look to add a player to move the needle dramatically, possibly a Giannis or a Ben Simmons type player. The shooting that Klay and Steph have will make them an instant contender, but a trade could take them to the prohibitive favorite in the tougher Western Conference. So look forward to them being active in trade rumors all offseason and possibly up to the trade deadline.
I know everyone’s question, why are the Wizards on this list, and I’ll be happy to explain. If you’re optimistic about a healthy John Wall playing at his all-star level and Bradley Beal playing lights out like last season, good luck. It’ll take time and patience for Wall to return and could lead the team to a full-fledge rebuild.
Bradley Beal has been rumored to be on the trading block for some time now and if they don’t get out to a quick start, it could happen. Teams like Dallas have been salivating at thought of pairing up their young superstar Luka Doncic with a talent like Beal. A deal would be centered around a player such as Tim Hardaway Jr. and some draft picks to sweeten the pot.
Another possibility would be Phoenix, as mentioned above, they’ll be seeking a genuine veteran to set the bar. They could provide a better package with the tenth pick in play and maybe one of the young wings, possibly Oubre. Either way, expect the trade rumors to continue swirling around Beal.
Now the Wall situation is a bit different, as he’s coming off a severe injury and could take a while to regain his confidence and find what he can and can’t do on the floor. But he’s an elite level guard who can score and facilitate an offense. So who would be interested in his services possibly?
Possibly the Milwaukee Bucks. They’ll be desperate to keep Giannis at any cost and if they think Wall is coming to form, they’ll be happy to add him. He’s a far more superior guard than Bledsoe. But the Bucks should approach with caution, as this could prove costly, unless they are sure he’s the point guard for the formidable future.
His recent extension will keep most far from the bidding table. His contract runs through the 2022/23 season and he’ll receive a whopping $47.3 million the final year. The vintage high-risk high reward for a five-time all-star with career averages of 20.7 points and 8.7 assists respectively. To keep Giannis they’ll bite the trade bait.