The 2019-20 NBA season will feature competitive balance unlike anything we’ve seen in recent years.
It’s about that time. NBA (preseason) basketball is here, with training camps happening league-wide. After a summer of immense change and parity, there are no clear championship favorites. The anticipation has reached special levels as a result.
On one end of the country, you have the L.A. teams battling for dominance. On the other, Milwaukee and Philadelphia will duke it out as Eastern Conference heavyweights. In between are countless under-the-radar contenders, several of whom have believable paths to the NBA Finals.
Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, Kemba Walker, Al Horford … and so on. Many important pieces have changed teams, some for the better, others for the worse.
The sheer mass of question marks surrounding 2019-20 will add a unique twist to the viewing experience. There’s more to figure out this season.
As the campaign gets started, here are record predictions for all 30 NBA teams.
I’m not sure the Atlanta Hawks got better. Dewayne Dedmon’s departure leaves Atlanta without a strong rim protector, while Evan Turner, Chandler Parsons and Allen Crabbe aren’t exactly spring chickens in the year 2019.
If the Hawks are going to take a meaningful step forward this season, it will rest largely on the shoulders of Trae Young and John Collins. While Young is a special offensive talent, he’s also a league-worst defender. Collins still has growth to do in terms of both consistency and his own defensive presence.
Sans Dedmon, the Hawks don’t project as much of a defensive team. De’Andre Hunter was tabbed by many as the best defender in the 2019 draft, but I’m not sure he’s ready to uplift an NBA defense as a rookie. He will experience growing pains, as most first-year players do.
On paper, this Atlanta team should thrive on offense. Young and Collins will continue to develop chemistry, while Hunter, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish all fit as complementary pieces. There’s enough shooting, size and playmaking to cause real issues for opposing teams.
Lloyd Pierce has leaned into defense and pace ever since taking over the head coaching gig in Atlanta. The Hawks aren’t ready to make a leap defensively, but the offense will produce. Especially if Trae Young is the version we saw post-All-Star break last season.
The Hawks are a prime League Pass team — a group you should watch, for sure. Don’t expect to watch a ton of wins.
Final prediction: 31-51, Miss NBA Playoffs