What it do babyyy: Kawhi reminds us he’s a fun guy by setting NBA on FIRE for 2020

.It turns out that the 7.1 earthquake that just rocked Southern California was just an incoming Woj Bomb. Late into last night Kawhi Leonard flipped the NBA upside down by agreeing to a 4 year, 141 million dollar maximum contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.

But securing the long term services of the best basketball player on the planet in his prime at age 28 wasn’t quite enough. In order for Leonard to join the Clippers, he needed to another running mate to ensure they could consistently contend for titles moving forward. 

Leonard got his wish, as the Clippers also acquired six time all star and third place finisher in this years MVP race in forward Paul George from Oklahoma City. As expected L.A had to pay a steep price for the services of George and subsequently Leonard. They gave up five future first round picks, a very solid point guard entering his second year in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and veteran forward Danillo Galinari. 

Look at ole’ Kawhi briefly becoming a general manager to engineer this blockbuster move. He reportedly reached out to George a week ago and told him to ask out of Oklahoma City. George followed through and asked Thunder general manager Sam Presty to trade him to L.A. The rest is history. For the NBA’s “quiet guy” in Kawhi I think a lot of people were shocked to see he took a recruiting initiative like this. Especially when considering it wasn’t even for a free agent. 

Along with Kawhi already being an all time great player, he can now add ‘Executive of the Year’ to his lengthy resume with this move. Now he and his new team in L.A suddenly become odds on favorites to win the title. It will be a tough matchup for anyone next year.

Their defensive outlook is what’s scariest about this squad. Kawhi, Paul George, and point guard Patrick Beverley make the most stout defensive trio in the NBA. Role players such as Montrezl Harrell, Moe Harkless, and Rodney McGruder are also great defenders. Offense? Check. Defense? Check. Depth? Check. Good coaching in Doc Rivers? Check. There’s plenty to like about these new look Clippers who will take the NBA by storm this year.

Throughout this past week most pundits were “convinced” Leonard was either staying in Toronto or forming a daunting super-team right down the hall with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the L.A Lakers. 

We now know Kawhi had his sights on the Clippers for some time. He reportedly told the Clippers front office if you get George, you get me too. One of the greatest executives in NBA history and former Laker star Jerry West A.K.A “The logo” , general manager Lawrence Frank and former CEO of Microsoft and richest owner in the association Steve Ballmer followed suit and granted Leonard’s request. 

The stability of the Clippers front office led by West, Ballmer and Frank ended up paying huge dividends in the most crucial time period in the franchises history. Ever since Leonard requested a trade out of San Antonio a year ago, the Clippers only had eyes for ole’ Kawhi.

Their path to reeling in two fantastic players is so similar to that of the Brooklyn Nets who acquired both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving nearly a week ago. Both the Clippers and Nets were formerly considered the “little brother” franchise in the shadow of the Lakers and Knicks in their respective giant markets.

Both teams maxed out this past year with rosters that really didn’t have much business making the playoffs or making any noise in them. Without a star on either team, the Clippers and Nets made the playoffs and took both their first round series’ six games before getting eliminated. This was especially shocking for the Clippers, who made the healthy KD led ‘fantastic four’ Golden State Warriors sweat a little bit in their first round series as it went six games. 

So now, with all of this news and absurd amount of player movement far too fresh in our minds, everyone is trying to sort out the projection for the 2020 NBA Finals. This season will have uncertainty and drama that we may have never seen before. Obviously we have to wait to see how these teams gel as the season progresses. But as of right now, I believe the following teams have a serious chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy next June: Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, L.A Clippers, L.A Lakers, Utah Jazz, and Golden State Warriors.

I also believe teams such as the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, and Portland Trailblazers are all teams that can vault into serious title contention with some luck in terms of injury or favorable matchups. 

Bottom line: this NBA season will be must see TV October-June as it’s the most wide open its been in my time of watching the NBA. Stay tuned for an NBA standings projection coming within the next couple of days. It’ll be fun to try to map out where all these teams fall in this crazy NBA world we’re living in. My only problem with the NBA right now is the 2019-2020 schedule isn’t out yet.

-Simon Brady

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