What's the Strength of the NBA Schedule This Year? Players, Teams and Schedule Overview
With the opening night of the NBA season behind us, a lot of the preseason hype is behind us. But that doesn’t mean the fun is over. After all, the offseason was the most insane in league history and there is almost an entire season still ahead of us. The strength of the NBA schedule lies in the marquee players, intriguing teams, and must-watch matchups. As we settle into the 2019-20 NBA season, here are the biggest strengths of the NBA schedule.
Teams Strength of the NBA Schedule
The Clippers are arguably the most intriguing team to watch in the NBA this season. Despite never making the Western Conference Finals and rarely winning a playoff series during their history, the Clippers look like a serious contender this season after adding both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard over the summer. The two made a coordinated decision to come to the Clippers, giving head coach Doc Rivers a chance to make them relevant and perhaps take the spotlight in Los Angeles away from LeBron James and the Lakers.
On the other coast, the Brooklyn Nets are suddenly a team to watch in the Eastern Conference with the arrival of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. It’s been five seasons since the Nets won a playoff series, but there’s a good chance that streak ends this season behind Durant and Irving. To be fair, Brooklyn ended last season far down the hierarchy in the Eastern Conference, but it’ll be fascinating to watch how far the arrival of two superstars can take them.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks remain a team to watch closely during the 2019-20 season. Behind reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and reigning Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season, only to fall to the Raptors in the Conference Finals. They lost Malcolm Brogdon, but Milwaukee’s roster is otherwise the same as it was a year ago. With so many teams making franchise-altering moves over the offseason, the Bucks are hoping that stability will lead to success after they fell just a couple of games short of the Finals last year.
Players Strength of the NBA Schedule
There is no shortage of individual players fans will have their eye on during the 2019-20 NBA season. It starts with the first overall pick in this year’s draft, Zion Williamson. Unfortunately, a knee injury will keep him sidelined for the first part of the season. But he’ll return at some point and be a focal point for NBA fans and teams alike.
Ben Simmons, another former first overall pick, will be another player to watch closely. He holds the key to the 76ers being able to rise to the top of the Eastern Conference. While Simmons impacts games in a lot of ways, he’s yet to develop a jump shot. If he can add that to his game, Simmons might be able to put Philadelphia over the top. If not, the 76ers might have a ceiling as to how far they can advance this season.
In the Western Conference, veteran big man Draymond Green might be one of the most important players in the NBA this season. The Warriors no longer have Kevin Durant to help Steph Curry with the scoring and they’ll also be without Klay Thompson for most of all the regular season. That means Golden State will need Green to be a difference-maker at both ends of the court. Green will be the second most important player on the team behind Curry and we’ll quickly learn if he’s up to the challenge or not.
Last but not least, there is Kristaps Porziņģis, who is returning from an ACL injury and playing with a new team. He was a star in the making early in his career despite being held back by virtue of playing for the Knicks and clashing with the New York brass. He’ll have a chance to start over with the Mavericks this season, and if he’s able to come back healthy, he has the skillset to elevate Dallas and make them a genuine contender in the Western Conference.
Games Strength of the NBA Schedule
The strength of the NBA schedule is surely in a slew of must-watch games that every fan will want to watch regardless of their favorite team. One of those games is on February 8 when the Lakers visit the Warriors. LeBron James and Steph Curry are arguably the two biggest stars in the game, so having them on the same court together is unmissable. This game also falls during a part of the NBA schedule when both teams will probably have something to prove.
On January 20, the stars of the future will meet when the Pelicans visit the Grizzlies. Assuming Williamson returns from his knee injury by then, he and the Pelicans will face the Grizzlies and Ja Morant, who was the second overall pick in this year’s draft. In addition to those two players, both teams have plenty of young, up and coming talent that should make for a compelling game.
Of course, Christmas is the best day of the NBA schedule outside of the playoffs, and this year there are five games that every fan will look forward to watching. The highlight of the day figures to be the Clippers facing the Lakers in a battle over Los Angeles bragging rights. If Paul George has returned from injury by then, the star power on the floor in this game will be off the charts.