The departure of Kawhi Leonard from the Toronto Raptors has undeniably changed the NBA landscape. The core of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol may be able to help the Raptors extend their playoff streak in the 2019-20 NBA season but without their best player, it remains a big question if they have what it takes to bring home another Larry O’Brien Trophy to Toronto. Leonard’s decision to leave the Raptors for the Los Angeles Clippers gave other powerhouse teams in the Eastern Conference a better chance of reaching the 2020 NBA Finals.
In an appearance on NBA TV, NBA Hall of Famer and analyst Charles Barkley gave his own prediction regarding who will win the Eastern Conference in the 2019-20 NBA season. Barkley said that the Eastern Conference will be a “two-team race” between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks. Though the Bucks have the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, on their roster, Barkley is betting on the Sixers to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals.
“I gotta tell you something, what I’m most excited about is who’s the best team in the Eastern Conference?” Barkley said, as quoted by SportsRadio 94WIP.
“I’m going out on a limb right now, I’m riding or dying with the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s gonna be a great battle between them and the Milwaukee Bucks all year. I love Philadelphia. I love Al Horford, Josh Richardson. Milwaukee losing (Malcolm) Brogdon, I think that’s a big deal. But I think it’s a two-team race in the Eastern Conference between the 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks. I can’t wait until they play each other head to head.”
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) August 14, 2019
It’s easy to understand why Charles Barkley is very confident about the Sixers’ chances of fully dominating the Eastern Conference next season. The Sixers may have failed to re-sign Jimmy Butler, but they didn’t lose him in the 2019 NBA free agency without getting anything in return. In a sign-and-trade deal with the Miami Heat, the Sixers managed to acquire Josh Richardson in exchange for Butler.
Also, the Sixers further improved their frontcourt with the recent addition of Al Horford. The Sixers may not be the heavy favorite to win the NBA championship title in the 2019-20 NBA season but if the core of Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Horford, and Joel Embiid build good chemistry, they will undeniably be a huge headache to any powerhouse teams in the league.