“I will continue leaving traces along the way, but it will no longer be in the Blazers“, said Damian Lillard, signing of the summer in the NBA, in his farewell song (“Farewell”, Dame DOLLA) to the franchise of his life, the Portland Trail Blazers. It was the respectful and heartfelt end of one of the best point guards of the modern era in the team that gave him everything… to break the established order less than a month before the start of the 2023-24 campaign of the best basketball league in the world. world. The Milwaukee Bucks are their destination, and they already have the pole for the new ring.
I will continue leaving footprints along the way, but it will no longer be in the Blazers
Dame D.O.L.L.A, ‘Farewell’.
That’s what the betting houses say, the Bucks are number 1 candidates for the ring. In the culture of ‘super teams’ that prevails in the NBA, the Wisconsin franchise finds a stellar union. Lillard is an accomplished scorer, capable of winning Playoff playoffs (he did it against the Rockets or Thunder). He has never shared minutes with another star like Giannis Antetokounmpo, and it will mean taking the ball out of the Greek’s hands, capable of deciding more than a team of shooters without someone as decisive and giving new impetus. It comes from 32.2 points per night… and adds to the ’34’. Holiday and his defensive force are leaving, name for any contender.
Is this uneven?
Milwaukee, which in the 2022-23 season had 16 consecutive wins in the regular season, hits the East table against the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat. The ‘proud greens’ opted for Kristaps Porzingis, leaving out Marcus Smart, and his defensive ability. “You do different things on your roster on both sides of the court. But the principles are the same,” said Joe Mazzulla, green coach. Those keys continue to be Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
The Heat, last Eastern champions, they wanted Lillard, but the offers never improved. They continue to look for a lighthouse in the face of the lack of competitiveness of Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson. Perhaps Jrue Holiday is one of his solutions to shore up the outside positions. Another Jimmy Butler heroics seems complicated.
The other alternative is the umpteenth chapter of the Philadelphia 76ers. The famous ‘Process’ that does not have its prize in rings. Joel Embiid is still the boss in the ‘city of brotherly love’, although James Harden, who was supposed to be by his side, does not stop antagonizing the team management. His departure is not ruled out.
The West, without a dominator
Lillard’s arrival in Milwaukee too takes the shine off a West that accumulated stars in defined blocks. Especially three: the Phoenix Suns of Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker. Los Angeles Lakers, with the “most talented squad from side to side”, as one of their references, Austin Reaves, said. And the Denvers Nuggets, defending champions and the team that competed best in the last Playoffs after the recurring exhibitions of Nikola Jokic throughout the field.
The Lakers are the best team
While in the East it seems Milwaukee and Boston win all the ballots, the other thing is the unknowns. The Suns’ bet reaches its maximum with Bradley Beal, that will perform the base functions. The coexistence of three star players, who need the ball and come from a blow against Denver in the last Playoffs. In the Lakers, a proper start with the pieces that arrived in the last year could raise their claims with the help of LeBron James y Anthony Davis.
And you can never rule out the Golden State Warriors. Veterans, competitors, they know all the battles. Nothing has changed, and with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green at the helm they return to their natural place. They add Chris Paul, with certain reservations about his physical condition. But they are common in all battles.
Of course, the one who defends the title is Jokic and his Nuggets. They lose Bruce Brown, an important piece in the defensive setup. Same base, Mike Malone at the head of a team that will orbit between Jamal Murray, consolidated after his finals, and the best player on the planet, Nikola Jokic. Will it be enough? Conclusions will be drawn in June 2024.
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