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2019 NBA Free Agency: 3 Teams That Could Finally Reach The Next Level

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard
Giannis Antetokounmpo (L) and Damian Lillard (R)
Talin T

The last 4 years, in the NBA, has only been about the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, and the last 2 seasons have boiled down to LeBron vs KD. However with Boston and Houston taking the respective conference finals to Game 7 and losing out just slightly has shown that new teams are going to take over and the Ohio- Oakland rivalry is possibly done.

Moreover, with LeBron James moving West and signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, the East is opening up their accounts and hoping to move players to their franchises.

The following teams are led by great young players, either first or second All-NBA teams but have not performed well in the playoffs at all. The next free agency could make these teams real contenders and a threat to the looming dynasty's brewing in Boston and Los Angeles, and the current one in Golden State.


New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans v Charlotte Hornets
Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday

The Pelicans led by a 6ft 10 PF/C Anthony Davis have continuously been beaten by the mammoth that is Golden State Warriors. Davis, who averaged 28.1 pts and 11.1 rebounds last season, is arguably either the third (or fourth if Kawhi comes back same) best player in the NBA. The Pelicans' playoff run which concluded on a mere 4-1 loss to the Warriors was not that discouraging for the team. The team gave the GSW a tough fight and with one big name gone from their roster big-man DeMarcus " Boogie" Cousins.

The team had 2 players which were nominated in the All-NBA Defensive teams- Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Further, the team to cover the loss of Cousins signed Julius Randle a young PF with rising capabilities to just a small contract of 18 million over two years. What the Pelicans need is a shoot first and efficient guard, the team is not at all capable of using D'Antoni's famous '7-second offence ' in more than a couple of their shots.

Best Targets in Free Agency 19:

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving

Klay Thompson: This would be the golden opportunities for both sides, Klay has proven himself as being a brilliant shooter and before KD was pivotal to the success of Golden State. Further, GSW will have to make big changes to give Klay a close to 30 million/yr contract. On the flip side, Davis will finally get the second superstar he needs to reach the NBA Finals and take a shot at winning the title.

Kyrie Irving: If AD is able to convince Kyrie to come to New Orleans, the two players who will be 26 and 27 respectively, meaning they would begin their prime years starting next season. Jrue Holiday, who is an efficient player, does not have the quick shooting skill will move to the 2 position. So with a possible starting lineup of Kyrie, Holiday, Randle, Davis and Mirotic, this could be a possible dynasty.

Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers v Brooklyn Nets
The Duo

Since drafting Damian Lillard in 2012, the Portland TrailBlazers have made it to the Playoffs five of the six possible times. They were able to transition from losing four starters in the summer of 2015 to playing well in a tough Western Conference with a young and more or less inexperienced team.

Having said that, they've been disappointing to a certain extent, reaching the Conference Semifinals only two of the five times and each of the two times, losing the series in 5 games. In the most recent postseason, they got swept by the Pelicans in the first round, something the entire franchise will have to bounce back from given that they were the best of the rest in the West as the 3rd seed.

Either way, it's about time they make some noise by landing some legitimate free agents who can actually help their team and not sign their current players to bad huge contracts. Here are a few guys they could target to surround Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

2019 Free Agency Targets:

Joe Ingles: The Australian was talked about a lot post playoff series win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he was able to slow down and hold his own against Paul George which frankly proved to be the difference makers in 2 games. Moreover, Ingles can be a brilliant addition to the Portland roster, because the Blazers had the lowest assists as a team, Ingles in the absence of Rubio in games managed plenty of double-doubles. Thus the Lillard and McCollum can put most of their focus on offense and let Ingles handle the defence and assists.

Trevor Ariza: Ariza even at 33 made a name for himself in the 2017-18 season because of the excellent defensive capabilities he displayed during the season and also against the western conference finals against the Warriors. A brilliant 3nD player the addition of Ariza would only cost them about 10 million and also take some load off Lillard who will be able to move and pass the ball around and not have the whole responsibility of initiating offense all the time.

Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks v Washington Wizards
Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo

This team which has been led by Giannis 'The Greek Freak' Antetokoumpo always have a decent regular season with Giannis making great highlight plays but fall short in the playoffs. The team has a very good and experienced point guard who has skill but never got the chance to make the playoffs with the Pheonix Suns.

However, starting positions like the Shooting Guard and the Centre spots have been very deficient and losing Jabari Parker will also hurt their future chances. Hence to keep, Giannis the Bucks would seriously need to convince players to join the franchise. Milwaukee is not a big market team, which means that retaining their starters in Bledsoe and Middleton has to be very important as well as getting other free agents.

For instance, Jabari Parker has been injury ridden, however, he did have potential so not giving him a 1 year deal like so many other teams does not seem hopeful. Yet there is still hope for the franchise, with the entry of new head coach Mike Budenhozer and signing of Centre Brook Lopez on a near minimum deal can work out really well. Moreover, the Eastern Conference is now in a LeBron-less era( a very big deal), and except Boston, no other team has exceptional talent Philly has to good players but young, Washington has been disappointing after spending so much money.

So one thing which the Bucks need to do is find a veteran (32 plus) players who have won a title or has at least been to the conference finals multiple times, in essence, their Andre Iguodala. The other route they go through is to leave Bledsoe (trade him this season) and train Middleton and Brogdon (ROTY) to play as the backcourt duo and hope that Lopez provides enough defensive capabilities at the rim.

Jimmy Butler: Butler is one player who does not have a big ego about minutes, points or averaging a high stat sheet. He recently came out complaining about the fact that rookies on the Timberwolves roster were not serious about winning. This would be a big difference for him if he were to come to Milwaukee, and a combo of Butler and Giannis at 3 and 4 respectively would trouble the opponents at the defensive and the offensive side. Both players are known for their lockdown and blocking ability and have been averaging 20 plus points quite long.

Kevin Durant: Even though this seems like a stretch it is not entirely impossible, Giannis is not a ball hogger and just 23 years old so he would not mind a peak player joining with him to win championships. Further, Durant does not mind taking a few million less if he thinks it would win him NBA titles. The extra cap space and Durant would also attract mid-level players who would be looking to join a championship team.

Edited by Yash Matange

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