This past off-season has been one of the most exciting that we have witnessed in a long time. After Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors took home the hardware defeating the reigning champs, the Golden State Warriors, the NBA has been completely rearranged. New beginnings for superstars like Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving, exciting new rookies like Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, and new franchises making a comeback to the limelight like the Denver Nuggets and the Brooklyn Nets. As an NBA fan, what more can you ask for? With all of the new moves made this past summer, there has been a lot of teams that are anticipated to do monumental things this season, but at the same time there has been a few teams that have flown under the radar and will look to shock the world.
San Antonio Spurs
Never count out the best coach in basketball. Over the past two decades the Spurs have managed to make the playoffs every year on the back of the notorious head coach, Gregg Popovich. No matter what roster, he has always found a way to win games. With all-star level caliber players like Demar Derozan and Lamarcus Aldridge, and young assests like Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, and Derrick White, this is a roster that could be formidable in the regular season and make the playoffs. If Derozan and Aldridge play to their potential, and Dejounte Murray gets back to his All-Defense-level of play, I could see this roster entering the playoffs as a 5th-6th seed in the West.
The Pacers had one of the best off-seasons out of the entire league. They added a near-20 ppg scorer in T.J. Warren and the newest member of the 50/40/90 club, Malcolm Brogdon. They have proven how deep they are by competing at an elite level following the injury of Victor Oladipo last season. They are also one of the youngest teams in the NBA at an average age of 25, their oldest player being Justin Holiday at age 30. The Pacers have all-star level talent like Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner, great bench players like Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, and T.J. McConnell, and a well-respected head coach in Nate McMillan. When they put all of their talent together and perform as a team, the Pacers may surprise a lot of people this season.
This is another squad that had an amazing free-agency period. They added a 20 ppg scorer Mike Conley, sharpshooter forward Bojan Bogdanovic, and big man Ed Davis. They are a dark horse candidate to become a championship contender, even in a stacked Western Conference. They have a former Coach of the Year finalist in Quin Snyder, who has done a fantastic job reshaping this team into the defensive powerhouse. Another reason they flourished on defense is of course the back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year, the Stifle Tower, Rudy Gobert. If I were to pick out one thing they didn’t do a great job of doing last year, it would be scoring. The Jazz ranked 17th in team scoring with a point differential of 5.2. After having such a breakout year despite being an average to below-average offensive team, they acquire two prolific scorers in Conley and Bogdanovic. Not to mention they have one of the best rising stars in the league, Donovan Mitchell. In conclusion, the Jazz have serious studs on their team, and they could make a run for the title given the opportunity, so watch out.