With superteams populating the NBA the past decade, the parity in the league disintegrated with fans “knowing” the result. However, after Kawhi and KD’s monumental decisions to leave their teams in 2019 free agency, among other players, the league is as wide open as any fan can remember. Many teams went all in on this crazy free agency, with $3 billion being spent on signings the first day alone. Now, there are plenty of directions to look for title contenders; however, any team seeking to hoist the 2020 trophy must battle its fair share of competition, perhaps even creating rivalries. Here are some potential rivalries that could arise ahead of the exciting 2019-20 NBA season:
Clippers vs. Lakers
This is an obvious new rivalry with the blockbuster trades for Paul George and Anthony Davis, along with the presence of superstars Kawhi Leonard and Lebron James. Now, the George/Leonard and Davis/James pairings may result in one of the most (if not the absolute most) fun rivalries to watch. For the first time since I can remember, the two Los Angeles squads are both in title contention and the clashes at Staples will be media-heavy, primetime affairs. The Clippers edge the Lakers in depth, but the duos at the top are set to make these matches entertaining. On a side note, it would be awesome to see these clubs fight for Western conference supremacy next season in the 2020 Western Conference Finals.
Jazz vs. Nuggets
Though these two squads do not receive as much media coverage as the L.A. teams, this could be a rivalry brewing in the Northwest division. With the Thunder in rebuild mode and the Blazers still missing Jusuf Nurkic in addition to slowly acclimating former Miami center Hassan Whiteside, the Nuggets and Jazz could fight it out for the division. Not to mention both teams should be in contention for a top 3 seed in the West. With the Nuggets returning a core that includes promising young players like Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, along with stud Nikola Jokic, and recent draft picks Bol Bol and Michael Porter Jr., this group can reach new heights this season. Meanwhile, the defensive minded Jazz added former Grizzlies star Michael Conley Jr. and former Indiana Pacer Bojan Bogdanovic to a core that already includes young rising star Donovan Mitchell and defensive stalwart Rudy Gobert. The head to head matchups between these teams will be tight, and will go a long way in determining who is a true title contender.
Bucks vs. 76ers
Any team can come out of the East now that Kawhi Leonard has packed his bags up North and leaves for the sunny streets of Los Angeles. Now, a win now mentality has eclipsed teams like the 76ers, who after getting Al Horford and Josh Richardson and resigning Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons, feel they are ready to compete for the Eastern conference throne after years of “The Process.” Same goes for the Bucks, who led by Giannis and a solid supporting cast returning Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, aim for the title after a 60 win and MVP season. With the Raptors weakened, the East lacking bona fide contenders like the West, and KD still injured this season, a new rivalry may arise between the Bucks and 76ers, two teams with hopes of winning the East.
Nets vs. 76ers
With the 76ers star studded lineup, they are set to make noise in the East well into the 2020s. However, another team has risen from mediocrity, and the Nets are set to make some noise in the East very soon as well. The Atlantic division rivals will have some good clashes starting this season, and last season’s playoffs were evidence. Kyrie and Deandre Jordan alone may not be able to handle the 76ers star power this season, but the matchups can be a nice “we are here now” season for the Nets, and can put the 76ers on notice, especially for when KD returns.
Rockets vs. Clippers/Lakers
The Rockets pulled off a stunning trade for Russell Westbrook and now his reunion with James Harden has set the tone for the duo to go after what they have been longing for: a ring. With the loaded West, it won’t be easy for the Rockets, but this team can be neck and neck with the Clippers and Lakers for a top seed and potentially in a playoff matchup. Westbrook and Harden vs George/Leonard or Davis/James calls for a for new era of entertaining basketball. If only the season started this week.