The Kawhi Leonard watch is finally over. He is going to Los Angeles, just not the Lakers. The Clippers were able to sign him and trade for Paul George from Oklahoma City. This gives the Clippers the superstars they need to compete with the Lakers. I would even give the Clippers the edge overall if you factor coaching and front office management into the equation. The Laker did add depth with the signings of Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins and Avery Bradley. If the season started right now, my top four in the West would be the Clippers, Lakers, Jazz and Nuggets. The odds maker don’t see it as I do. The Westgate in Las Vegas has the Warriors and the Rockets in the third and fourth slots.
It is odd not having the Warriors in the top four, but I don’t see DeAngelo Russell flourishing in Coach Steve Kerr’s system, where sharing the ball is prevalent. They lost approximately 40% of their offense and two strong defenders: Kevin Durant and the injury to Klay Thompson. If Thompson comes back by February, they may crack the top 4 and move pass Denver.
It seems crazy that the Sixers no longer have Jimmy Butler. I went to his home debut when the Sixers acquired him. He delivered and the crowd embraced him right away. He was the closer that they did not have. Butler also could defend. While Philly made some good moves in free agency, it was enjoyable to watch Butler nightly and appreciate what he brings to a team.
Sixers finally get one on the Celtics by signing Al Horford. Weaken your opponent and strengthen yourself in the same move. He gives them the freedom to load manage Joel Embiid’s minutes. Horford can also play with Embiid at the power forward position.
T.J. McConnell signed a two-year deal with the Pacers. McConnell improved every year and was part of The Process. His play was blue collar and he resonated with the fan base. I personally hope he does well with his new squad.
The top 4 teams in the Eastern Conference right now would be the Bucks, Sixers, Nets and the Celtics. The Nets would be on top if Kevin Durant was able to go. This may be one of the few times in NBA history that either of two teams that appeared in the Finals would not project as the leading contender for the title the following season.
I will review some NBA future bets on projected win totals as we get closer to the start of the season.
My next post will look at the best fit for Russell Westbrook if he is traded from OKC.
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