The NBA offseason is finally here. It’s one of the best things about the NBA.
The NBA draft, offseason trade rumors and free agency bring about the best drama in the entire world of professional sports. And NBA stars and rookies flock to my home of Las Vegas for some scorching summer fun.
This offseason is obviously a bit different. For one, it’s happening in the fall, and there’s plenty of uncertainty around the timeline of the offseason as we await an official start date to the 2021 season.
But I will have future columns to focus on all the good the offseason will bring us. For now, I am purely thinking about just how amazing the next NBA season will be.
The biggest reason is the level of uncertainty about who we’ll see in the next NBA Finals. I’ll split this into two reasons because there is an astoundingly equal level of parity between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.
Out east, the finals contenders run arguably six-deep. The Miami Heat will run it back with a team just as talented as the one that made the finals this past season, and Bam Adebayo might make another jump.
The Boston Celtics are still led by a trio of stars, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown might be able to finally get past the Conference Finals with continued growth. The Milwaukee Bucks are still led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who could very well win a third straight MVP next year.
And even if there is a bit more uncertainty around the other three teams, they still have the talent to make a run. The Brooklyn Nets could emerge as leading contenders depending on how Kevin Durant returns from his injury.
The Philadelphia 76ers are loaded with talent, and maybe Doc Rivers will be able to finally figure things out for the Sixers. Even the Toronto Raptors will be formidable challengers because of the presence of Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry.
Out west, the finals contenders similarly run six or so deep. The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are led by elite duos. The Denver Nuggets will be able to compete with anyone if Jamal Murray can continue the success he found in the bubble. The Dallas Mavericks could easily be legitimate contenders if Luka Doncic continues on his rise to greatness.
The Houston Rockets might look very different without Mike D’Antoni, but they still have a top-five NBA player in James Harden. And the Golden State Warriors will come back with a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
There are so many finals contenders right now, and I know that every moment of the 2021 season will be fun because of it.
Even if there are some clear top contenders, the depth of talented teams in the league also has me excited for next season.
In the Western Conference, almost every team will be competitive on a given night.
Even the worst teams in the conference will be fun to watch. The Minnesota Timberwolves will be led by Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, and the Sacramento Kings have De’Aaron Fox.
The San Antonio Spurs have Dejounte Murray and a couple of near-All-Star talents. The entire middle of the conference will be in a slog-fest for the No. 8 seed. The battles between Ja Morant, Devin Booker and Damian Lillard should all be thrillers.
And on the topic of elite guards, I am beyond excited for the return of John Wall. The last time Wall appeared in a game was in 2018. By the time he plays his next game, it will have been more than two years since his previous appearance.
Wall has long been one of my favorite players to watch. And even though I have absolutely no idea what he’ll look like upon his return, the prospect of a rejuvenated Wall playing alongside the Bradley Beal we saw this past season is intriguing.
Another team I am excited about for the 2021 season is the New York Knicks.
I’m mostly ready to just laugh at the Knicks all season. They will be embarrassingly bad.
RJ Barrett and the No. 8 pick in this year’s draft will put up a lot of garbage minutes. And Julius Randle might even play more than 40 minutes a night with Tom Thibodeau now leading the team.
Let’s just hope the madness of the 2021 NBA season actually begins in January.