- CLUTCH Summary: Every NBA season, teams like the Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz get overlooked for whatever reason.
- It's important to note that expectations are often perceived, but don't always equate to reality.
- The reality is this: Don't sleep on the Warriors, Heat, Nuggets, Pacers or Jazz. It can be detrimental to your health.
The recent onslaught of NBA free agents moving place has caused a re-shift of powerhouses, seeing some of the most dominant teams lose their talent, only for stars to relocate to their new landing spots. However the busy nature of this summer has quickly seen teams rise atop of the power rankings with several teams left in limbo after their changes.
Here are five NBA teams that will exceed expectations heading into this upcoming 2019-20 season:
The Heat lost Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside in trades with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Portland Trail Blazers, but gained a very important player in Jimmy Butler — but most importantly they gained an identity.
Butler personifies everything the franchise is about — work ethic, dedication, and the willingness to grind to be great. The 6-foot-7 two-way star has come up in this league through a pedigree of working his way up, which made a great impression on president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra — two men that rose to their profession in a very similar way.
Another underrated fact is that Spoelstra will finally be able to play his preferred Heat frontcourt tandem of Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk without a distraction asking for minutes now that Whiteside is gone. Rookie Tyler Herro should also play an important part in this team, either as a learn-on-the-job backup behind Jimmy Butler at shooting guard or eventually earning a potential starting job if he shows the right potential.
The Heat could challenge for the fifth or sixth spot in the East and give a team a scare or two in the playoffs, perhaps even more if Riley rolls the dice at the trade deadline or the buyout market.
The Nuggets came from being a team bordering a playoff entrance to second in the Western Conference, besting many of the most popular names in a strong crowd of contenders. Without making many changes, the Nuggets have been once again overlooked with the narrative of Los Angeles dominating the scope of this new season, with the Lakers and Clippers making pronounced changes in their respective rosters.
Yet Denver still has an improving young core of Jamal Murray ,Gary Harris, and Nikola Jokic — which should also prove fruitful. Plus the addition of Jerami Grant and the potential debut of Michael Porter Jr. should only bode well for an already-deep team.
Don't be surprised to see the Nuggets getting the best of the Lakers and Clippers, among other teams, while they still try to figure out their chemistry in the early stages of the season, racing past them on their way to one of the top spots in the West.
The Pacers managed to stay alive even after Victor Oladipo went down to injury last season, expect them to be that very same way as they begin the 2019-20 season. The addition of Malcolm Brogdon should prove imperative, considering he will have to shoulder a sizable load with Oladipo out of commission until December or even January. Reports say he's moving well, but has yet to move onto three-on-three and five-on-five contact work. The Pacers stud will need time to get back into his groove, but it should happen rather effortlessly now that he's now thrust into handling all the backcourt duties.
Now that Thaddeus Young is gone, the Myles Turner-Domantas Sabonis duo will see more play together than ever before, which could be the make-or-break factor for this Indiana team.
If it all goes the way president Kevin Pritchard is expecting, the Pacers could rally to snatch a sixth or seventh playoff spot, unlike what some analysts and pundits that have Indy missing the playoffs altogether.
Many raved about the immediate improvement the Jazz made after trading for Mike Conley, finally giving shooting guard Donovan Mitchell the backcourt partner he so sorely needed during his first two years in the league. The addition of Bojan Bogdanovic should only bolster their perimeter game, with either him or Joe Ingles moving to the power forward spot after Derrick Favors left the Jazz.
The two-sworded attack of Conley and Mitchell should give Utah two players capable of putting up 20 points in a nightly basis, while freeing Mitchell for better looks and improving his shooting percentages. A summer of Team USA competition should help young Mitchell gain perspective on sharing a backcourt with a talented point guard, as he will likely do with Kemba Walker as part of a team that will take on the FIBA 2019 World Cup in China.
The core of this team is already cemented and incorporating team-first guys like Conley and Bogdanovic should be a breeze under coach Quin Snyder, whom most of his players are willing to run through a wall for. Don't be surprised if the Jazz lock up a top-four spot in this upcoming season.
Golden State Warriors
Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Warriors have been expected to miss the playoffs after five straight runs to the NBA Finals. Now with no Kevin Durant as their ultimate weapon and Klay Thompson out for nearly half the season, not many are willing to give Golden State a chance to pursue another playoff run, looking at the 2019-20 season as the end of a dynasty.
Yet Thompson has been an NBA iron man for his entire career and was even willing to continue playing in that infamous Game 6 of The Finals after unknowingly suffering a torn ACL. Thompson's body has shown the supernatural ability to heal from injuries most spend days, if not weeks recovering from — very much like Wolverine's self-regenerating Adamantium-infused bone structure in the Marvel Comics.
If he can come back within a reasonable time (around January), the Warriors still have what no other team in the NBA has — four All-Stars in one roster. If the duo of two-time MVP Stephen Curry and recent All-Star D'Angelo Russell manages to mesh and remain injury free, expect the Warriors to gain a second wind in the second half of the season once Thompson comes back.
Oh how quickly they forget. The Warriors have the only backcourt in NBA history that has shot 40% or better from deep in every season of their career, making them indisputably the best backcourt in the league when healthy. While they won't challenge for a top spot in the West in the regular season, expect them to be a poison pill for higher-seeded teams once they crack a playoff spot.