On February 7th, 2019, Masai Ujiri made the decision to trade for former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol. The package to get the veteran Spaniard involved talented young big man Jonas Valanciunas, solid defensive guard Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second round pick. The move was risky, not only did Gasol have to develop chemistry with the rest of the roster quickly, but there was a genuine debate whether he, at the age of 34, could stay on the floor at the highest of levels.
It’s incredibly difficult to acquire superstar players. Most organizations aren’t in major markets to get one through free agency. Even getting high draft picks isn’t a guarantee. Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri has always been a believer that you can find superstar talent later in the draft.
Toronto is currently 16-8 overall and sports a league average offense and a top-5 defense. After losing the reigning Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard and also one of the best 3-and-D players in the league in Danny Green, expectations for the 2019-20 Raptors weren’t very high. There were valid questions about how the offense would operate without a surefire go-to player, but Pascal Siakam (who I will discuss in part two) has alleviated those concerns.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Dallas Mavericks are tied for third in the Western Conference with a 6-3 record. They are a young team with a very bright future and they happen to be an absolute joy to watch. With teams like the Pelicans, Warriors, and Kings all struggling in the early stages of the season, Dallas has a legitimate shot at making the playoffs.
How one game exposed the challenges the Rockets will face in their quest for a title.
Vegas odds have the title favorites as the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. Two teams that were mostly afterthoughts just one season ago are now looked upon as the class of the NBA. It’s rather obvious why — combine the two rosters and you have 4 of the top 10 players in the league.