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Paul Sancya / Associated press
It’s almost impossible to forget how the 2020-21 NBA season ended due to the excitement of the conclusion. But if you’ve done it one way or another, here’s a little reminder.
A new NBA Finals game pitted the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns in a battle for the championship. Although the Suns took a 2-0 lead in the series, things were far from over. The Bucks hit back with four straight wins to claim their first NBA title since 1971.
Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo added a championship to his growing list of accolades as the season ended in an entertaining way. Now is the time to move on.
Less than two months after the conclusion of those NBA Finals, all 30 teams in the league are approaching the start of training camp, where they will begin to prepare for the 2021-22 season. Training camp will start on September 28, a sign that basketball is not far away.
Pre-season action will begin on October 3, and then the regular season will arrive on October 19. And while not all teams have released their training camp schedule yet, these are expected to continue releasing over the next week.
With the camp just around the corner, here’s a look at several key storylines around the NBA before things get started.
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Ashley Landis / Associated Press
LeBron James and Anthony Davis are back, and the Los Angeles Lakers came out and earned a third star when they landed point guard Russell Westbrook of the Washington Wizards in a successful five-team trade. Can this trio now lead the Lakers to their second NBA title in three years?
Any team that has James, Davis and Westbrook is probably going to make the playoffs and be a championship contender. But whether Los Angeles can finish first (after being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in 2020-21) may depend on what other moves they’ve made this offseason.
These are all the players 33 or older that the Lakers added this summer: Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and Rajon Rondo. It’s certainly a roster filled with big names, but it’s unclear what impact some of these guys may have at this point in their careers.
It should be interesting nonetheless, as the Lakers camp will not be lacking in veteran leadership and experience. Is this the right formula for another championship? Only time will tell. But you can be sure that James, Davis and Westbrook will do their best to make this franchise more successful.
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Matt Slocum / Associated press
The Ben Simmons business rumors have been an ongoing saga all summer long. And yet, the 25-year-old point guard remains exactly where he was at the start of this offseason: in the lineup of the Philadelphia 76ers.
It even got to the point where there were reports that Simmons had told the 76ers he wasn’t showing up to training camp and wanted to be traded, although Tom Moore from the Bucks County Courier Hours recently said that Philadelphia believed “he would show up eventually.”
Maybe it all ends with Simmons back on the 76ers trying to lead them on a deeper playoff run, having been knocked out in the second round. Or maybe it could still be traded. Keith Pompey from Philadelphia Investigator reported last month that Simmons preferred being left with a team in California, but nothing came of it.
Whether or not Simmons shows up at camp, that will be a storyline to follow throughout the preseason. And if he ends up getting traded, it could change the landscape of the NBA depending on where he lands.
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Chase Stevens / Associated Press
There are quite a few rookies who entered the league in the 2021 NBA Draft that have the potential to make a quick impact. But most likely to do so is guard Cade Cunningham, who went on to become No.1 overall for the Detroit Pistons.
Cunningham has long been considered the best prospect in this draft class, and for good reason. He has the size and the skills to be very successful in the NBA. While the Pistons are still rebuilding and may be a year or two away from the playoffs, Cunningham should be fun to watch. And he could even help Detroit surpass expectations in 2021-2022.
Other rookies who could have big seasons include Houston Rockets goalie Jalen Green, Cleveland Cavaliers center Evan Mobley and Orlando Magic goalie Jalen Suggs, all of whom were also taken in the top five. Golden State Warriors guard Moses Moody could also be a name to watch.
As always, it’s fun to see a wave of new talent gearing up to start their careers throughout training camp and preseason, and this year is no different.