The NBA regular-season is approaching fast, and here are some trends to note before the games start to count.
Here is a quick rundown of a few NBA stories to watch heading into the year.
The Lakers rotation looks deadly
After winning the NBA Finals in the bubble, many people expected the league to catch up to the Lakers.
However, in the offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers retooled their lineup by adding 6th Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, 6th Man runner-up Dennis Schröder, Wesley Matthews, and Marc Gasol.
LA re-signed key veterans Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and saw flashes of increased development from Talen Horton-Tucker and Kyle Kuzma.
In the preseason, the Lakers beat the Clippers 131-106 while running an 8-man rotation without superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
I usually hate to put this much stake into preseason games, but the limited rotation showed that when everybody is locked-in and clicking, this team can go 10-12 deep in their rotation without missing much of a beat.
A scary sight for the rest of the league.
Russell Westbrook intangibly improves the Wizards
Russell Westbrook is a player who is no stranger to stuffing the stat sheet, but his impact to the Washington Wizards organization is the way his competitiveness will rub off on the younger players.
From his first practice, Wizards coach Scott Brooks said that Westbrook set an “intense” tone for the rest of the team.
His impact showed in the Wizards’ sole preseason win in Westbrook’s debut, and even though there are still plenty of question marks on this team, we know that Westbrook has the potential to change the culture in the District.
The Suns are the best they’ve been since 2010
The Phoenix Suns offseason addition of Chris Paul will maximize the potential of Devin Booker.
Booker was an All-Star in a season that saw him average 26.6 points a game for the second consecutive year on increased efficiency in 2019-2020. (+2.2 in field goal percentage and +2.8 in three-point percentage)
Booker also led the Suns to an 8-0 NBA Bubble record, a run that symbolized a changing of the culture in the valley. The change of culture mixing with the influx of new talent and the addition of a future Hall of Famer in Chris Paul makes this the best Suns team in a decade.
Patrick Williams is a Hooper
I’m not here to absolve the Chicago Bulls for reaching to take Patrick Williams with the fourth overall pick, however, I am here to let everyone know — Patrick Williams can hoop, and can make a big impact in year one.
In the preseason, Williams’ skillset showed his game is better suited to the spacing of the NBA game than the college game, which would explain his lackluster numbers in college. (even taking into account the limited usage he had at Florida State)
He’s not in the Windy City to lead the team in scoring, or honestly anything. He’s a do-it-all player who can give you solid minutes, play good defense, and fill some of the holes the Bulls have in their roster.
Steph Curry Has a Legit MVP Chance
The Warriors aren’t the powerhouse they used to be, but they still have Steph Curry.
Curry’s increased usage could bode well for his MVP chances assuming he stays healthy this season.
Side note: The extra attention on Curry on the perimeter allows for first-round big-man James Wiseman to have matchups inside he can take advantage of with his athleticism.
New Look Rockets Aren’t Enough For James Harden
The Rockets made drastic changes to their roster this offseason.
John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Christian Wood give Houston a different feel on the court, but it isn’t enough to entice superstar James Harden to stay.
Kevin Durant is Healthy
After a long recovery from an Achilles injury in 2018, Kevin Durant will be taking the floor tonight. Durant has looked good in preseason, and you can tell he’s worked his way back near the form that has his status cemented as a basketball legend.
His talent will always be there, but the main question mark will still be his post-injury explosiveness. There were moments in preseason games where you could see him move a bit slower.
Either way, it shouldn’t matter too much, as Durant’s ability will keep him in the upper echelon of NBA players this season.
The Pelicans are primed to compete
In case you haven’t seen the news, Zion Williamson is not on a minutes restriction this season.
A healthy Zion, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball are a young trio that will be one of the NBA’s toughest combinations to stop this season.
The impact Zion had on the floor in limited time last season was special.
Every player on the court has to account for every move he makes.
Zion will open up opportunities for Ingram to continue being the offensive threat we’ve seen him grow into.
Lonzo’s playmaking and defense allows New Orleans to compete with any team in the league.