For me, as an “NBA Superfan”, the Draft is one of my favorite nights of the year. The 2018 Draft was riddled with storylines and now, with free agency set to begin on July 1st, the landscape of the NBA is still set to dramatically change. It seems that every NBA offseason continues to get better. Last year we had the Kyrie and Paul George trades, the year before was KD becoming the snake we have all grown to hate, and who can forget Marc Cuban driving around begging DeAndre Jordan to join the Mavs. Let’s face it, the NBA has become a year-round entity, and the offseason has become its crowned jewel. This one is setting up to be one of the best ones yet. We have “LeDecision” 3.0, Kawhi and his people wreaking havoc on the Spurs first class organization, and a couple dark horse free agency candidates that can make a splash as well. On top of that, the Draft did not disappoint. With all that circling the league, where does it go from here?
In case you didn’t see the elephant in the room, Lebron James is a free agent. This will now be the 3rd time in Lebrons career that his decision will set the bar for the rest of the NBA offseason. The first time around, he “took his talents to South Beach.” The second time, The King made a triumphant return to Cleveland, making good on his promise by winning an NBA Championship for his hometown team. Now, once again, everyone is anxiously awaiting where Lebron will be next year. With all the rumors going around, I think there are going to be three teams where Lebron will “seriously” consider: the Cavs, the Lakers, and the Rockets. As much as Philly has been rumored to make a run at Lebron this summer, it simply just doesn’t fit. You have Lebron Jr. in Ben Simmons, and ball dominant post-player in Joel Embiid. Lebron needs the ball in his hand and needs shooters to spread the floor. Embiid can hit the occasional 3, but Simmons absolutely can’t. If I am the Sixers, I make a run at Lebron, because you never know, right? But at the same time, they have the tools to win right now, and Lebron arriving could possibly ruin the chemistry we saw develop at the end of this season.
With Philly out of the mix, this only leaves 3 “real” possibilities for Lebron to land. For me, I want to see Lebron finish his career in Cleveland. Seeing him in Lakers colors might make me throw up, and Lebron and the Cavs will still be favorites in the East if he is there. If Lebron cares about his legacy as much as it seems, I think the best bet will be to stay in Cleveland and finish his career with the team he started it with. Unfortunately, just because you want something doesn’t mean its going to happen. If I had to bet on it, I think Lebron goes to L.A. I think he finally wants to wear those colors and etch his name in the history books of one of the great organizations in all of sports.
Houston can make a run as well. If Lebron wants to make a serious run at another championship, Houston is the team. Harden will be coming off an MVP season, CP3 will finally be able to play with Lebron, and Houston has more than enough shooting talent to surround Lebron. I think in LeBron’s mind however, he sees Houston as Hardens team, and makes the move to bring “Showtime” back to L.A. If the Lakers manage to bring Paul George home as well, the Lakers can give Golden State or Houston a run. Now, if the Lakers bring in Kawhi as well, then it can be really scary, really quick.
Speaking of Kawhi, it is heartbreaking to sit here and type this out, but, here it goes. There is a really good chance that next year, Kawhi Leonard is on a team that isn’t the San Antonio Spurs. Wow, that was a lot harder than I thought. I love Kawhi, and this not an exaggeration when I say he was the perfect Spur. Quiet, did his job, came back better every year, there was nothing bad you could say about the dude.
Then, this year happened.
In what turned out to be the weirdest NBA season storyline possibly of all time, Kawhi and the Spurs have somehow fallen out of favor with each other. So much so, that it came out last week that Kawhi wants to be traded and prefers the Lakers. (Of course.) The whole situation has been so bizarre, and if this how it ends, its honestly just sad. Kawhi was the next great Spur following in The Admiral and Tim Duncan’s shoes, and now that seems its going to end. So, if this is how it ends, where does Kawhi end up. If he wants to go to the Lakers, they do have some pieces they can move. Obviously, the deal would be centered around 2 of the 3 young players the Lakers have in Ball, Ingram, and Kuzma. Is that and a few other pieces the Lakers can give up worth enough to Pop and the Spurs? I guess we will find out. But if not the Lakers, then who? Philly? Boston? He is either on his way out through trade, or opts in for the supermax extension, and stays in San Antonio. In my eyes, more than the Lebron decision, what happens in the Kawhi saga will have a larger impact on the league, and the whole league is holding its breath to see how it plays out.
All the above has yet to happen, and is based on pure speculation, but last Thursday. we had something real. The 2018 NBA Draft was held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and it was a fun night to be a fan of the league. Ayton went as the predictable number one overall pick to the Phoenix Suns, and the Sacramento Kings somehow passed on Luka Doncic for Marvin Bagley III out of Duke. For me, the biggest storyline was the Kings passing on Doncic. Bagley is gonna be a stud, but to me, Doncic is going to be the start of this draft and has the highest ceiling of anyone in this class. I felt it made sense for the Kings to take Doncic and pair him with De’Aaron Fox, and create a solid, young foundation for their future backcourt. The Kings already had a solid young talent pool of bigs, but I guess they felt Bagley was too talented to pass on. Their loss however, not mine.
Even crazier however, was the Hawks passing on Doncic as well, for TRAE YOUNG. Sure, the Hawks got a future first out of this from the Mavs, but Doncic is Doncic. Unlike literally everyone else in this class, Doncic played against professional players in Europe last year, and was the best player on the court every time. The guys potential is through the roof, and I secretly love the pairing with Dennis Smith Jr. Plus, he can bond with Dirk, so win-win.
Following the Doncic trade, the biggest storyline of the night was the slide of Michael Porter Jr. Last year at this time, Porter was projected to be a top 3 overall pick. After practically missing his whole freshman year at Missouri due to a back injury, Porter saw himself fall out of the lottery into the waiting hands of the Denver Nuggets. Its sad he fell so much, but he still has insane potential IF healthy. Fortunately for him, if he needs to redshirt this year, Denver is good enough for him to do so. Where he goes from here will be interesting to see, especially considering if he recovers fully, you can pair him with Jokic and Gary Harris. Overall, I like the pick for the Nuggets, and I hope we see Porter hit on his potential.
Last night with the Draft, it was a lot of fun. The last few weeks without NBA basketball has seemed like it just dragged on, but we got through it. Now, July 1st and free agency is right around the corner, so expect the NBA to dominate the headlines once again. I know I can’t wait.