By: Rory Zeman
On Jun. 12, the Denver Nuggets beat the Miami Heat in the 2023 NBA Finals. However, since the Nuggets held the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy four months ago, the NBA has drastically shifted with a multitude of key draft picks, trades, and league changes that will have profound effects on the upcoming season.
In the 2023 NBA Draft, numerous rookie players embarked on their journeys in the NBA and fans eagerly watched as their franchises chose new players. Most notably in the draft, the San Antonio Spurs, hoping to rebuild their legendary franchise, selected Victor Wembanyama, the French prospect. Many sports analysts, such as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, describe 19-year-old Wembanyama as “the greatest prospect in the history of team sports.” As the Spurs selected Wembanyama, their fans rejoiced at the idea that someone who could perhaps become an all-time NBA great would wear their jersey.
The Charlotte Hornets, just three years after selecting the NBA all-star Lamelo Ball, selected Brandon Miller as the second pick in the NBA Draft. And, after a disappointing season without a playoff entry, the Portland Trail Blazers were lucky enough to receive the third pick, capitalizing on this by selecting Scoot Henderson, who, after joining the Blazers, showed promising skill in the subsequent NBA Summer League.
This NBA offseason also went down as one of the most shocking in the history of the sport, with numerous surprising player trades between teams. Early in the offseason, the Phoenix Suns acquired all-star Bradley Beal in a blockbuster deal from the Washington Wizards, who in turn landed an NBA great, Chris Paul. However, Paul only remained in the capital for a short time, with the Wizards trading him just days later to the Golden State Warriors for Jordan Poole.
After enduring a devastating game-seven loss to the Heat resulting in the Heat’s advancement to the finals, the Boston Celtics, in a three-team swap, obtained Kristaps Porzingis from the Wizards, and traded the former defensive player of the year, Marcus Smart, to the Memphis Grizzlies. Finally, in a trade for the ages, the Trail Blazers, attempting to build a strong, young team around Henderson, traded the NBA legend Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal, while also receiving Deandre Ayton and all-star Jrue Holiday.
Finally, the NBA announced that they would implement, for the first time in NBA history, an in-season NBA tournament, which will contain a stage of group play, a knockout round, and finally a championship match on Dec. 9 in Las Vegas. Fans, shocked by the news, are eager to see how these offseason changes will play out in the upcoming NBA season.
(Sources: CNN, ESPN, NBA)