The 2023-24 NBA regular season starts this week. A lot has changed over the past months. Here’s a look at five of the most fascinating new additions:
5. Jrue Holiday
Old team: Milwaukee Bucks
New team: Boston Celtics
The Milwaukee Bucks wouldn’t have beaten the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals without Jrue Holiday. Over the final four games, the Bucks were plus-56 with him on the floor. Holiday, one of the league’s best two-way guards, joins a Boston squad that had the NBA’s second-best record (57-25) and came within one game of becoming the first team to rally from a 3-0 deficit. The Celtics lost to the upstart Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Could Holiday be the missing championship piece? He’s a veteran presence who knows how to fit in with other talented players after sharing the ball with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
4. Bradley Beal
Old team: Washington Wizards
New team: Phoenix Suns
Bradley Beal. 🥶🥶— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) October 17, 2023
No team has amassed more firepower in 2023 than the Suns. They added Kevin Durant in February and traded for Bradley Beal in June. They will join a team that already has Devin Booker. That’s three prolific scorers who all averaged at least 23 points last year. Someone will have to have to sacrifice shots. Will it be Durant, Beal, or Booker? Durant is used to playing on star-studded teams, having done so in Oklahoma City, Golden State, and Brooklyn. Beal might have to embrace a larger catch-and-shoot role. Last year, he converted a career-best 50.6 field-goal percentage on such shots. Beal should get plenty of wide-open opportunities by playing alongside Durant and Booker.
3. Chris Paul
Old team: Phoenix Suns/Washington Wizards*
New team: Golden State Warriors
Chris Paul is the best point in NBA history without a championship. Could this be his final chance? The Warriors shockingly traded away Jordan Poole for Paul. Paul is 38 and coming off one of his worst seasons. Poole is 24, helped the Warriors to the 2022 title, was coming off his best scoring season (20.4 points per game), and had just signed a contract extension. However, Poole’s terrible postseason performance (10.2 points on 34.1 percent shooting) sealed his fate. Paul might no longer be an All-Star, but he’s careful with the basketball (a career-low 1.9 turnovers last year). That’s important for a Golden State team that was second in the league in turnovers (16.0).
2. Victor Wembanyama
Old team: Metropolitans 92 (France)
New team: San Antonio Spurs
WEMBY BLOCKS KLAY THEN GETS THE DUNK. 😳— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) October 21, 2023
LeBron James and Michael Jordan didn’t have a winning record in their rookie years. Tim Duncan did. However, he played with David Robinson, who had missed the previous season due to injury. It will be a remarkable story if Wembanyama can lift San Antonio (22-60 last season). Already, Wembanyama has been a highlight sensation. But as teams start figuring out his strengths and weaknesses, things will get harder for him. At 7-4, Wembanyama is a wing player we’ve never seen before. He can handle the ball remarkably well and can cover so much ground. Watching his evolution will be fun, regardless of the Spurs’ record.
1. Damian Lillard
Old team: Portland Trail Blazers
New team: Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo asked for more help, and management delivered. Damian Lillard was the biggest offseason acquisition in the league. He could elevate the franchise to its second championship in four years. Milwaukee, which had the best record last year (58-24), is adding the NBA’s third-leading scorer (32.2). Lillard is the best long-distance shot-maker not named Steph Curry. Defenses will have a nightmare trying to stop Antetokounmpo and Lillard. Imagine the pick-and-roll possibilities. To add Lillard, the Bucks had to give up defensive stalwart Jrue Holiday. But Lillard’s offense should compensate for any defensive shortcomings.