Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce believes there's "five, maybe six teams that have a genuine chance of winning" the NBA title in season 2020.
ESPN sat down with Pierce during his whirlwind trip to Australia earlier this month and asked him some of the questions on everyone's mind heading into one of the most unpredictable and open seasons in NBA history.
Is the NBA title the Clippers' to lose?
All signs were pointing to two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard leaving Toronto and signing with the Lakers, but his decision to join cross-town rival the Clippers shocked the league and began a chain reaction of moves.
The Clippers were also able to secure six-time NBA All-Star Paul George and as a result head into the season as the favourite to win the title, something the franchise has never managed.
Pierce says: "I'm not sure it's there's to lose because there's so many things that go into winning an NBA title. Do they have the ingredients? Yes, absolutely. But the road to the championship takes so much. Last year was it Golden State's to lose but look what happened, they had to deal with injuries, adversity and eventually didn't win the title. Before the season started, who saw Toronto winning the title? If healthy [the Clippers] will be there at the end of the season and have an opportunity, but it's not guaranteed. Nothing is guaranteed in the NBA."
How much will Anthony Davis help the Lakers?
Unlike Leonard and George to the Clippers, Davis' move from the Pelicans to the Lakers was one which everyone seemed to know about months before the paperwork was actually signed.
The former No. 1 draft pick spent seven seasons toiling away for little reward at New Orleans, but now finds himself with a genuine chance of winning a title after pairing with LeBron James.
Pierce says: "Whenever you have two players that are top five in the league, that's a key ingredient. When you look across the board at all of the champions from the last 20 years, the one key ingredient is you have to have an MVP caliber player. Last year you had Kawhi, the year before that Steph Curry, a few years before that LeBron. That's what sticks in my mind. The Lakers have two of them on one team and are now right in the mix."
Will Zion Williamson live up the hype?
It's been almost two decades since a player entered the league with so much attention. Williamson, who was taken with pick No. 1 by the Pelicans, dominated at college level for Duke and some are already calling him the face of the NBA for the next 15 years.
Will he be able to rise to the occasion or will it be an underwhelming season?
Pierce says: "I think he can because there's really not a lot of pressure on him. Yes, he's the No. 1 pick. Yes, he's made all of these shoe endorsements already before he played his first game, but I don't really think the pressure kicks in until after you've signed your first contract. He'll go out there and put together a great season, average 14, 15 points, which is respectable, and earn a name in the league. Hopefully he doesn't get hurt. We've seen a lot of number one picks come into this league and not make the adjustment. I think this kid works hard. I think he's humble and I think he has all of the ingredients to succeed. But until he gets that next contract, that's when you'll start judging him."
Houston Rockets: Dynamic or dysfunctional?
There's no denying their talent, but will the NBA MVP-winning pair be able to adapt to each other's games and play together, or will the experiment be a huge disaster?
Pierce says: "I have mixed feeling on this, but when you get two great players on one team I think they will figure it out. The one thing they are both going to have to understand is that one of them is going to have to change the way they play and adopt a different role. They aren't always going to have the ball in their hands now. One of them is going to have the ball and the other is not. I think they are going to have to change their system and play faster to get more scoring opportunities. They can't be a half-court team, they really need to take advantage of Russell in the open court and allow him to get touches in transition. If they sit back and play the same way as they have in the last couple of seasons I don't think it will work."
Can Kemba Walker take the Celtics back to the Finals?
The 29-year-old playmaker, who led Team USA at the World Cup, averaged 25.6 points per game last season, so what impact will he have on the young Celtics?
Pierce says: "It will be fun, but their young guys have to get better. I mean, we've now seen three dynamic point guards come in there in Isaiah Thomas, Irving and now Kemba. They've all been successful, but in order for the Celtics to be a better team, the young guys have to get better. Tatum, Brown, they have to turn into all-star caliber players. If they're able to do that then I think they will have a chance, but if not I think it will be the same as they were last year and the year before."