The 2019 National Basketball Association (NBA) free agency has made for one of the most exciting offseasons.
Besides LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers last offseason, one of the most impactful offseasons was in 2016 when superstar Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors. Durant went to Golden State after the Warriors had a 73-9 season.
Well, the 2019 free agency started with Durant’s decision again as he decided to team up with Kyrie Irving and Deandre Jordan in Brooklyn. Although Durant will most likely miss the majority of the 2019-20 season with a ruptured right Achilles, the Nets will be a powerhouse when he is healthy.
Durant is one of the best scorers the NBA has ever seen and his statistics back it up. The 6’9 forward has scored an average of 27.0 points per game since he entered the NBA in 2007, according to basketball-reference. He has also shot .493 percent since he has been in the league but earned a .525 shooting percentage in his three seasons with the Warriors.
In his 12 seasons in the NBA, Durant has earned many accolades to back up his impressive resume. Durant was the 2007-08 Rookie of the Year and made the All-Rookie team, according to basketball-reference. He has also been named an All-Star 10 times, earning the All-Star Most Valuable Player (MVP) twice. Other accolades Durant has earned include nine All-NBA selections, four scoring titles, two NBA Championships, two Finals MVPs and the 2013-14 MVP.
Just having Durant on your roster would make any team in the NBA a contender for the title, but the Nets also acquired six-time All Star Irving. There is little to no debate that Irving has some of the best handles in the NBA, but Irving brings a lot more to the table. In his last two season with the Boston Celtics, Irving has proven that he is one of the best point guards in the league as he earned 24.1 points and 6.1 assists per game while only turning the ball over 2.5 times per game.
Irving has also shown that he is a reliable scorer. Just like Durant, Irving can score from almost anywhere on the floor at a consistent rate. In his last two season, Irving shot .489 percent from the field and .404 percent from behind the arc.
With Durant and Irving signing with Brooklyn, the Nets could most definitely be a contender for a title when the whole roster is healthy.
While everyone thought the NBA offseason could not get any crazier, Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were joining the Los Angeles Clippers around 1 a.m. CT.
This news surprised a lot of people as the majority of NBA fans thought Leonard would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers or re-sign with the Toronto Raptors. Leonard pushed George to find a way to get to the Clippers after talking about teaming up in Los Angeles, resulting in George requesting a trade, according to Wojnarowski. Oklahoma City tried to make the best out of the situation by respecting the trade request, sending George to the Clippers for four unprotected first-round draft picks, one protected first-round draft pick and two draft pick swaps. The Clippers also sent Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to the Thunder. With the trade, Leonard quickly made the decision to join George in Los Angeles.
With the record-setting collection of draft picks traded, the Clippers made one of the biggest, if not the biggest move of the offseason. As the Clippers were the eight seed in the Western Conference last season, adding two top-10 players to their roster would most likely make them a prime contender for the title next season.
Leonard is currently the best two-way player in the NBA. He also showed how valuable of a player he is last season after he was traded to the Raptors and helped them win their first NBA Championship in franchise history.
In his single season with the Raptors, Leonard earned 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game, according to basketball-reference. His stat line was impressive compared to his averages with the San Antonio Spurs or 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game, proving that Leonard can take control of a team if needed.
Throughout his career, Leonard has earned many accolades for his two-way play. Leonard was named an All-Star three times and made an All-NBA three times as well while his defensive play earned him five All-Defensive Team selections and two Defensive Player of the Year awards. He also led the NBA in steals in the 2014-15 season, as well as winning two championships, being named the Finals MVP both seasons.
Another one of the top-three two-way players in the NBA will now be Leonard’s teammate. George is a six-time All-Star who has been named to the All-NBA team five times and All-Defensive team four times. George is coming off of an MVP-caliber season where he averaged 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and a league-leading 2.2 steals per game.
Both Leonard and George are players that any team would be lucky to have because they can both score effortlessly as well as being able to lock down almost any player in the league. I think the western conference will come down to the two teams in Los Angeles (Lakers and Clippers) and I would give the Clippers the edge because of their defense. Defense wins games.
As the 2019 NBA offseason slows down with all of the start free agents signed, these two moves by the Nets and Clippers ultimately changed their teams’ fate from being at risk of making the playoffs, to title contending teams.