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The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The new look NBA is set to tip off next week

This past NBA offseason has seen a plethora of drastic changes that will shake up the league immensely. Star players with new homes, a rookie class with possibly the highest ceiling we’ve ever seen and plenty of other crazy storylines have headlined the past few months. With opening day coming up on Tuesday, Oct. 24, there are a lot of things to look forward to this year.

Possibly the biggest story of the season was that of Victor Wembanyama. Wembanyama was the projected first-overall pick in the NBA draft, and he was no ordinary prospect. According to Yahoo Sports, the 19-year-old from France is listed at seven feet, four inches and has unprecedented physical capabilities. He’s an insane athlete who is not only capable of shooting from long distances, but can dribble and defend at high levels as well. (1)

Wembanyama finds himself on the San Antonio Spurs this year, who are a few years removed from their most dominant years and who saw the likes of Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili and fellow Frenchman Tony Parker. Coach Gregg Popovich may have done it again, with the acclaimed “best prospect since LeBron James” falling right into his lap. (1) He has already looked incredible in preseason and will likely carry that over into regular season play.

The regular season will also see a change with the new in-season tournament being implemented this year. This new addition is very similar to the tournaments in European Soccer. According to Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, starting Friday, Nov. 3, the teams in the six intraconference groups that were announced will play each other on Tuesdays and Fridays, with two games at home and two on the road. (2)

Once the group stage is over, eight teams will move on to single elimination rounds consisting of the winners of each group and the best runner-up from each conference. The semi-finals and finals will be played in Las Vegas, and the Championship will be held on Saturday, Dec. 9. Cash prizes of up to $500,000 will be given out to players on teams who make it far. (2)

This new tournament adds new stakes to a regular season that was under a lot of criticism. The NBA has also, according to the Cable News Network, added a new rule about resting their star players, preventing more than one from load managing in the same game. (3) It should be very interesting to see how these new implementations pan out and whether the NBA regular season regains the traction it once had, as a result.

With a new season of course comes roster changes, and there aren’t many teams who shook it up more than the Boston Celtics. After coming up short of a second finals appearance, the Celtics got aggressive in the trade market. According to Bleacher Report, they traded away several core players throughout the offseason, including Grant Williams, Robert Williams and former Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart. (4)

It was tough to part with these players who have been key pieces on the Celtics for so long, but the return they got may make it worthwhile. They acquired two all-stars in Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday. (4) The Celtics have consistently been coming up short for the past several years, but adding these two elite players and locking up star wing Jaylen Brown with a new contract may make this year their best shot at Banner 18 yet.

The rest of the league did not just sit on their hands, though. If the Celtics don’t come out of the East, you can almost guarantee it will be the Milwaukee Bucks. After over a decade in Portland, superstar guard Damian Lillard finally requested to be traded. The Miami Heat were frontrunners for months, but according to CBS Sports, the Bucks cut in front out of nowhere and acquired Lillard. (5)

The pairing of Lillard and former Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokoumnpo is a match made in heaven, and having Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez doesn’t hurt either. Lillard’s perimeter shooting complements Antetokoumnpo’s paint scoring perfectly, so it will be difficult to stop this duo. The East currently looks to be a two-man race between Milwaukee and Boston, especially with the future of James Harden in Philadelphia remaining a mystery, according to The Athletic. (6)

The Western Conference, on the other hand, looks like it will be a dogfight. According to Sports Illustrated, the reigning NBA Champions, the Denver Nuggets, have kept relatively the same team together aside from losing Bruce Brown to the Pacers. (7) Nikola Jokic has been arguably the best player in the world these past couple years, and there’s no reason to believe he’ll slow down. 

The Phoenix Suns had an extremely active offseason, parting ways with an aging Chris Paul and former number-one pick, Deandre Ayton, as well as acquiring star guard Bradley Beal from Washington. Beal, alongside the many moves the Suns have made for depth, could make them the biggest threat to dethrone Denver. (7)

The Memphis Grizzlies also made headlines as they took a hit with Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension, according to the NBA’s website. (8) However, the acquisition of Marcus Smart may help make up for the temporary loss a little. Pairing the last two Defensive Player of the Year winners, Smart and Jaren Jackson Jr., will make the Grizzlies a tough team to play. (4)

The Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and many other teams are also looking to make noise in the West. There are more playoff-caliber teams in the West than not, which should make for an exciting race to see who gets in and who falls short. (5)

It’s without question that this season is going to be a season to remember. It’s not often you’ll see an NBA offseason filled with as many headlines as this one, and next week, we’ll see them all brought to life. It is sure to be a year of excitement in basketball, but only one team will come out on top. 

 

Sources:

 

  1. https://sports.yahoo.com/2023-nba-draft-lottery-meet-victor-wembanyama-the-best-prospect-since-lebron-james-projected-to-go-no-1-165100087.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAALh5712HvSM01OyXN_CeVN7Y1A_56EeaK3cHN-b4NfHo-Dpnwgxpvoocug0nqh2ljjOzV9X9UmorZB8cd0CdvskRrGiYePTCQso2L8JmaRsibFZNPZO12GN51yOzwGFahizP8Y088476kqvncDtkA3hLYDS3tjFKivaWkYraotEu
  2. https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/38192234/what-nba-season-tournament-format-schedule-groups
  3. https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/14/sport/nba-basketball-load-management-star-players-spt-intl/index.html#:~:text=The%20new%20rules%2C%20which%20have,referred%20to%20as%20load%20management.
  4. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10085667-grading-celtics-biggest-moves-from-2023-nba-offseason
  5. https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/2023-nba-offseason-grades-damian-lillard-trade-gives-bucks-top-mark-celtics-keep-pace-by-adding-jrue-holiday/
  6. https://theathletic.com/4856896/2023/10/02/james-harden-76ers-trade-request-daryl-morey-relationship-timeline/
  7. https://www.si.com/fannation/basketball/nba-free-agency-tracker-day-1-recap-bruce-brown-kyle-kuzma-jerami-grant-july-1-2023
  8. https://www.nba.com/news/ja-morant-suspended-25-games

 

About the Contributor
Liam Crampton, Sports Writer