Opening day begins a new era in the NBA

The movement of Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard is part of a new era in the NBA

Louie DiBiase
October 22, 2019 - 12:22 am

Photo: Richard Mackson - USA TODAY Sports

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The 2019-20 National Basketball Association season tips off Tuesday night with two games that represent not only the start of a new era in the league, but a new era for four teams.

The start of these new eras is thanks, in large part, to two star players that were on the move this summer in Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis and Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard.

The defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors take on the New Orleans Pelicans at 8 p.m., followed by the battle of Los Angeles between the Clippers and Lakers at 10:30 p.m. A matchup between the former teams of Davis and Leonard, and the actual matchup between their new teams. 

Both the Lakers and Clippers traded significant capital to form two-star duos of Davis and LeBron James, as well as Leonard and Paul George. Duos that make both teams favorites to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy this spring. 

With the departure of their franchise players, Toronto and New Orleans are in different paths of their reboot. 

Leonard's decision to leave the Raptors after leading Toronto to their first ever championship puts the organization in an interesting spot. While the Pelicans have rebuilt the team around young, promising stars such as Zion Willamson, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram, Toronto still features their championship roster that is in "win-now" mode. Veterans like Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol are back for another year with the Raptors, as is a budding star in Pascal Siakam.

Without Leonard, Toronto isn't seen as a serious threat to repeat in 2020, but their roster is still one of the deepest in the Eastern Conference. 

Leonard was an unrestricted free agent, which didn't allow the optionality for Toronto that New Orleans had with trading Davis. The Pelicans are seen as one of the most promising young rosters when Willamson returns from injury. 

The player mobility has altered the future of all four teams, but it has also helped created a new era around the NBA. 

At least for now, the super team era has been replaced by, what could be called, the "Jam Era". Fans of the 1990s video game series "NBA Jam" should understand, but for those that don't, the video game allowed you to play two-on-two with two star players from one team. 

The 2019-20 regular season has brought the game to life with stars across the league forming duos rather than three or four-man super teams as the likes of the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Golden State Warriorz did over the last decade. 

The new duos are spread across both conferences:

  • Los Angeles Lakers - LeBron James and Anthony Davis 
  • Los Angeles Clippers - Kawhi Leonard and Paul George 
  • Houston Rockets - Russell Westbrook and James Harden
  • Brooklyn Nets - Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving 
  • Golden State Warriors - Steph Curry and Klay Thompson 
  • Philadelphia 76ers - Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid 
  • Milwaukee Bucks - Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton 
  • Denver Nuggets - Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic 
  • Utah Jazz - Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell 
  • Portland Trail Blazers - Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum 
  • Dallas Mavericks - Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis 
  • New Orleans Pelicans - Zion Williamson and Jrue Holiday 
  • Boston Celtics - Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum 
  • San Antonio Spurs - Demar Derozan and Lamarcus Aldridge 

Perhaps it's fair to say parity is back in the NBA. It will be put on full display starting Tuesday night. 

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