Basketball is back: Storylines to look out for

(L-R) Lebron James, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Dončić. (Illustration by Nickolas Nieves)
(L-R) Lebron James, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Dončić. (Illustration by Nickolas Nieves)

Brace yourselves, Southern sports fans: Basketball is back. 

The NBA season officially tipped off last week, paving the way for months of fun. Like every year, several storylines are driving conversations across the country. From shocking trades to COVID-19 protocols, there is a lot to keep an eye on in the NBA this year. With that said, here are some of the most interesting storylines to look out for this season. 

The aging Lakers

With age comes wisdom, they say. But will the group of experienced future Hall of Famers, whose average age is 30-years-old, be able to hang with the speed and explosiveness of the rest of the league? If their first game tells us anything, it’s that the Lakers have their work cut out. The Russell Westbrook trade has also raised eyebrows all over the basketball world. The explosive point guard couldn’t quite get the hang of things in his debut with the Lakers, shooting 4-13 and 0-4 behind the three-point line. Only time will tell if he can fit in alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony.

Klay’s return

Klay Thompson has little left to prove in his career, despite being only 31 years old. The contender for best catch-and-shoot player of all time will inevitably return to the court this year after missing the last two seasons due to injuries. If fans aren’t excited about Thompson’s return, his “Splash Bros” counterpart Stephen Curry certainly is. 

Kyrie unvaccinated 

On a more somber note, perhaps, the basketball world is on the edge of its seat as drama surrounding Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status looms large. After the all-star point guard refused to get the COVID-19 shot despite New York City mandates, the Brooklyn Nets responded with an ultimatum: Get vaccinated, or don’t play home games. Irving hasn’t shown any signs of changing his stance, which raises question marks about the future of the Nets and rest of the league.

Ben Simmons drama

It’s a precarious situation in Philly. After trade rumors, underwhelming playoffs performances, missed practices and suspensions accumulated over the summer, the already-fragile relationship between Ben Simmons and the 76ers has not improved. The organization suspended Simmons for the first game of the season last week after he showed signs of disengagement and distracted the rest of the team. Many speculators believe Simmons’ time with Philly has come to an end, but either way, all eyes are on the 25-year-old. 

Giannis’ attempt to repeat:  

The Greek Freak left little room for doubters last year as he assertively led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first championship in 50 years. His sheer dominance in the paint is reason enough to watch him this season, but the age-old question every championship-winning star faces is still in the air: Can he do it again? Much to the dismay of every opponent, the answer is probably ‘yes.’ One of the league’s biggest struggles this year will be to contain him (not to mention his outstanding defense). What a joy it will be to watch.

Pool of talented youngsters

Luka Doncic. Trae Young. Ja Morant. Jayson Tatum. Lamelo Ball. Anthony Edwards. The list of young future-MVP hopefuls is long. As a new generation of stars come in, pundits as well as fans can’t help but speculate: Who will be the face of the league ten years from now?

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