Clippers, Bucks and 76ers on the rise, former Xavier players ink new deals
Los Angeles will dominate the NBA discussion next season. With the off-season acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers can legitimately contend for the heart of their city instead of playing the little brother team role to the Lakers.
The Clippers are looking to build on the success of the previous season where coach Doc Rivers led a scrappy and underrated roster to six games against the loaded Golden State Warriors.
While still maintaining the core that gave them success, the new-look Clippers have added two of the best players in the league and are looking to take the Western Conference come playoff time.
The Utah Jazz had a quiet but eventful summer. Despite losing Ricky Rubio, the Jazz has tuned their roster for a playoff run next April.
With additions of great defenders such as Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah is hoping that they can build on their defensive scheme captained by reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. On the offensive side of the ball, Conley and Bogdanovic should add more efficiency to offset Donovan Mitchell who, despite being one of the league’s premier scorers, is prone to throwing up a lot of bad shots on any given night.
The Jazz have also added depth to their bench in the offseason with additions such as Ed Davis and Jeff Green from Brooklyn and Washington respectively.
The Eastern Conference is going to be very top-loaded as the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers have emerged as the clear favorites to represent the east in the NBA Finals.
While the Bucks have lost a few key players, most notably Malcolm Brogdon, the 76ers have made a lot of moves this summer to position themselves to compete with the Bucks for the Eastern Conference title.
With the Al Horford and Josh Richardson signings, Philadelphia hopes to support the young stars they have in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Although defense shouldn’t be a problem with the team, offense, especially in the clutch, is a big question mark as they don’t have an elite shot creator to close out games.
It is unclear who will fill the role that Jimmy Butler, who signed with the Miami Heat, once occupied.
Free agency has been a mixed bag for former Xavier players. For the 2019-2020 season, Edmond Sumner will be the only Xavier product to have a permanent spot on an NBA roster.
The Indiana Pacers converted his one-year, $1 million two-way contract to a three-year $6.5 million NBA contract after an impressive 22.1 per game season with the Indiana G-league affiliate Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Despite sustaining a minor, undisclosed left foot injury, the versatile young Xavier product is looking to be pushed in heavier minutes on an injury-depleted Pacers roster.
Following Thaddeus Young’s departure from Indiana, Tyreke Evans’s suspension and young star Victor Oladipo being sidelined until Christmas with a knee injury, Sumner is in a favorable spot to receive more playing time as he is listed as the second shooting guard on the depth chart.
J.P. Macura recently signed what is known as an Exhibit 10 deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
An Exhibit 10 deal comes with a $50,000 bonus as well as a guaranteed spot on a G-league roster. Macura, however, is looking to make one of the final roster spots on the Cavaliers.
Trevon Bluiett averaged 11.2 points per game and 22 minutes played in the Summer League this year, but was recently waived by the New Orleans Pelicans and has yet to sign another basketball contract.
By Joseph Cotton | Staff Writer