The (almost) returned NBA’s new look

An incredibly too small recap of the league’s jam-packed offseason

~Matthew Morhiser, Sports Editor~

You know, it really feels like just five months ago the National Basketball Association (NBA) was returning from a brief medically-enforced hiatus brought on by the growing pandemic. 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams ventured down to Orlando to resume the 2019-20 regular season and start the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Weirdly, it also feels like only two months ago, LeBron James’s Los Angeles Lakers were crowned the world’s champions by defeating Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in the seven game series by a final tally of four games to two. Wait! Maybe all these days inside the house are getting to me, but I actually think that really did all happen over the past few months. Crazy, but that’s life, huh? Better luck next year for Miami, I guess. 

Wait again! What if they won’t have to wait much longer to get another crack at taking the Larry O’Brien trophy back home to South Beach? What if the NBA’s 75th season, spanning from 2020-21, officially tips off on Dec. 15? That would be too good to be true, and it is. The next NBA season actually begins on Dec. 22, and it will be a slightly more abbreviated period than we’re used to. The season has been shortened from the regular 82 game grind to a narrowly less 72 game grind. 

If this is all news to you, you’ll be even more stunned to know the offseason period is essentially over. Sorry folks, but the 2020 NBA Draft is long gone, and the free agent signing period has been ongoing since Nov. 20. However, you have no need to fret. You’ve mistakenly clicked on the perfect article to learn about just a few of the most important things you’ll need to know before the new season rolls around. I won’t lie to you, I’m not going to cover everything that’s gone down, but that’s okay. If the previous decade and the beginning of the current have taught us anything, if a team has James, Stephen Curry or Kawhi Leonard, they’ll probably win the championship. Once again, that’s life, I guess. Anyways, here’s some stuff that happened. 

Two days before the free agent signing period kicked off, the NBA, much like the National Football League (NFL) did earlier this year, held a virtual draft instead of the usual live in-person affair at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Joining the likes of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan, 19-year-old Anthony Edwards out of the University of Georgia (UGA) was selected with the first overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his one shortened year at UGA, Edwards averaged 19.1 points, 5.2 total rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals over 32 games. What made NBA scouts love his upside as a player was his athleticism, toughness and shot creating abilities. Funnily enough, Edwards made some questionable and downright confusing comments to come from a potential number one pick the morning of the draft. In an interview with ESPN, Edwards said he “can’t watch basketball,” and if the NFL called, he would quit the NBA to join the league “Because you can do anything on the field.” He ends the interview by taking shots at now fellow NBA player Damian Lillard by diminishing his rap career. Odd stuff for sure, but only time will tell if Minnesota struck gold or dove onto a landmine. 

If Edwards is the future of the league, it’s only fair we talk about what’s happened so far with the league’s current stars. More specifically, which household names (if your household is a professional basketball enthusiast) were traded from their current teams and situations to begin life anew with a different team and city. Take, for instance, Chris Paul. The future Hall of Famer, “State Farm” commercial star and “Banana Boat Crew” member along with James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade was traded from the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder to the upstart Phoenix Suns. First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Phoenix sent players Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque plus a 2022 top 12 protected first round pick to Oklahoma City in return for Paul and Abdel Nadar. Paul is coming off an impressive season with the Thunder where he averaged 17.6 points, 5.0 total rebounds, 6.7 assists and shot .489 percent from the field. In addition, he led the Thunder in forcing an unexpected game seven against James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. Only a year prior, many sports media outlets released stories questioning if Paul was done being a significant contributor to an NBA team. Today, those same outlets said Phoenix won the sweepstakes by adding Paul to their contending roster. 

Well, I feel like we covered more ground than we actually did. It seems like we only talked about Edwards and Paul, but so much more happened this offseason. James Wiseman, who was selected second overall in the draft, was known for having an unstable path to the NBA, but he secured the ultimate stability by being drafted to a phenomenal organization such as the Golden State Warriors. The Milwaukee Bucks slammed their hoof on the acceleration by trading their future in order to obtain the zero time All-Star Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans. They simultaneously entered “win now” mode and the “lockdown Giannis Antetokounmpo” protocol with one singular trade. Apart from the draft and trades, DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Rockets. I personally think he’s a horrible fit for the team that emphasises the perimeter game and smaller lineups, but maybe this is a sign that things are changing in Houston. Luckily, he’ll fit right in with their philosophy of playing no defense. Okay, that was a little harsh, but that’s life, I guess. Goodnight, everyone. 

Edwards’ college statistics obtained from: 

College Basketball Statistics and History | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com (sports-reference.com)

Edwards’ quotes obtained from: 

The pain and promise of top NBA draft prospect Anthony Edwards (espn.com)

Information on Paul trade obtained from: Chris Paul trade: Suns acquire All-Star guard from Thunder – Sports Illustrated

Paul 2019-20 statistics obtained from: Chris Paul Stats | Basketball-Reference.com (basketball-reference.com)

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