NBA season preview: The top 50 storylines to watch in 2021-22 (Part 2)

The NBA season is lastly right here!

Whether you’re a #BallIsLife fanatic who can can’t sufficient hoops or somebody who merely wants to take a break from fantasy soccer prep, Sporting News has you coated with 50 can’t-miss storylines that may outline the 2021-22 season.

If you missed Part 1 — which included primers on LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic, amongst others — you may check it out right here.

Let’s get after it.

lebron james and luka
(Getty Images)

26. I’m excited to watch the NBA’s Game of Thrones, because it looks like we’re caught transitioning between two eras. By my rely, as many as seven completely different gamers legitimately vie for the unofficial title of NBA’s finest participant: James, Durant, Antetokounmpo, Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Stephen Curry. This is completely different from the MVP race for the straightforward undeniable fact that the NBA’s finest participant doesn’t at all times win MVP. No, that is about staking a declare because the NBA’s one true king. Going 12 months by 12 months, you’d be laborious pressed to discover any season with this many gamers jockeying for pole place.

MORE: 10 insiders voted on the NBA’s best player. None picked LeBron.

27. I’m excited to watch the Lakers in Game No. 83 and past. Although Russell Westbrook’s match (and, to a lesser extent, Carmelo Anthony) in Los Angeles will gasoline hours of airtime and social media debates from Day 1, we won’t learn much until the stakes are raised towards playoff-caliber defenses.

28. I’m excited to watch the rule modifications, which is able to dramatically enhance the sport and viewing expertise. The NBA introduced that it’ll restrict makes an attempt to draw fouls on non-basketball strikes, which implies cracking down on the James Hardens and Trae Youngs of the world launching into defenders, kicking legs out at odd angles, and every other actions that do not occur naturally. 

29. I’m excited to watch Davion Mitchell make life completely depressing for opposing guards. He received’t be one of the best defensive guard in the league from Day 1, however he could be probably the most uncomfortable to play towards. 

30. I’m excited to watch Jalen Green drop 40. Fun reality: Allen Iverson is the final rookie to put up three 40-point video games. Green could have the last word inexperienced mild to hearth away in Houston and will put up rookie numbers harking back to AI.

jalen green could put up iverson esque scoring numbers as a rookie fwfmknpfemyk12moz7obecya7
(Getty Images)

31. I’m excited to watch Michael Porter Jr. seize a possibility to fast-track his ascent to stardom. Although the 6-10 strolling bucket underwhelmed in the postseason, he did rattle off a 15-game stretch instantly following Jamal Murray’s harm in which he poured in 25 factors per recreation on 58/51/85 capturing splits. Playing off maybe the league’s most unselfish star in Jokic, Porter Jr. is a significant breakout candidate on a workforce that may nonetheless win a ton of video games.

32. I’m excited to watch extra tales about Kyrie Irving’s off-the-court affect bubble to the floor. While there’s definitely a dialogue to be had about mercurial nature and on-court availability, there may be little denying all that he’s accomplished to use his mic for good. Like bringing clean water to one of Pakistan’s poorest villages. Or donating 200,000 meals to a food bank during the pandemic. Or providing truckloads of masks and food to assist the Standing Rock Sioux tribe

33. I’m excited to watch the Jazz try to observe Milwaukee’s blueprint. After years of underwhelming postseason performances, the Bucks lastly broke via and exorcised the demons. The Bucks are proof that the Jazz shouldn’t be counted out.

34. I’m excited to watch the star energy on Christmas. Eight energetic gamers have made at the least eight All-Star groups and all of them are scheduled to play on Christmas Day. There are a whopping 157 mixed All-Star appearances by gamers slated to play on Dec. 25.

35. I’m excited to watch “Inside The NBA,” which enters its twenty second straight season with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. The previous three months served up a reminder of simply how laborious it’s to produce a constant NBA present. Don’t take “Inside The NBA” as a right.

36. I’m excited to watch Golden State try to thread the needle by successful now and taking part in for the longer term. If considered one of James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga or Moses Moody pops, the Warriors will likely be proper there knocking on the doorstep of championship rivalry.

37. I’m excited to watch Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton’s subsequent act after their Finals run. Booker appears poised to graduate from All-Star to All-NBA whereas Ayton might threaten to crack the All-NBA stranglehold that Jokic, Embiid and Gobert keep over the remainder of the league’s facilities.

38. I’m excited to watch Portland (hopefully) keep away from the definition of madness. At some level, Portland’s brass should understand that trotting out Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum with none discernible third star is a recipe for fake rivalry. I hope the Blazers do one thing to considerably change their fortunes.

MORE: 76ers have their eyes set on Lillard

39. I’m excited to watch the following wave of first-time All-Stars. We had 4 of them final season — Julius Randle, Jaylen Brown, Zion Williamson and Zach LaVine — and this 12 months’s checklist might come from a gaggle that features Porter Jr., McCollum, Ja Morant, LaMelo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Deandre Ayton, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Fred VanVleet.

40. I’m excited to watch Karl-Anthony Towns reassert his overwhelming potential. Towns has persevered via overwhelming private tragedy for the reason that begin of the pandemic that renders something basketball-related in the end inconsequential. Nevertheless, Towns discovering solace on the hardwood and having fun with some modicum of success with the Timberwolves could be a feel-good story that any fan can root for. 

41. I’m excited to watch the true delivery of a brand new period in San Antonio. With Patty Mills becoming a member of the Brooklyn Nets in free company, no gamers stay from the vaunted 2014 title workforce. Regardless of how lengthy Gregg Popovich mans the sidelines, the Spurs have formally closed the on-court guide on the NBA’s longest sustained run. Dejounte Murray, at 24 years outdated, now takes over because the longest-tenured Spur and can shepherd in the brand new period.

42. I’m excited to watch James Harden make a run at a legacy-altering ring. If the Nets keep wholesome, they’re the odds-on favourite and whereas different gamers resembling Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul would change narratives with a championship, no person would profit traditionally fairly like Harden.

All-Time Shooting Guards
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43. I’m excited to watch famous X’s and O’s teaching wizard Rick Carlisle work his magic with the Pacers after spending the previous 13 seasons with the Mavericks. Armed with a gifted roster that includes Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren, Indiana may very well be a deep sleeper to watch in the East.

44. I’m excited to watch Paul George, Ty Lue and the remainder of the Clippers battle off the lame-duck, long-season standing that comes with Kawhi Leonard’s partially torn ACL. George is a former third-place MVP finisher, Lue is probably one of the best adjustment maker amongst all coaches, and oddsmakers nonetheless peg the Clippers to end over .500 and make the playoffs.

45. I’m excited to watch the Bradley Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie backcourt mild the league on hearth. Sure, many of the consideration will likely be on monitoring Beal’s happiness as groups strive to pry him free. But good on Beal for giving it a shot with Dinwiddie, who when wholesome and given a possibility to hunt for his personal, can fill it up. As a starter two years in the past, Dinwiddie pumped in 21.3 factors per recreation. If Beal tops 30 as soon as once more, this may very well be the highest-scoring backcourt.

46. I’m excited to watch the following long-form docuseries. After the rousing success of “The Last Dance” and the following chatter, subsequent up on the docket is Hulu’s nine-part documentary on the Lakers, protecting the Showtime ’80s, the Kobe-Shaq three-peat and the arrival of LeBron James. Add in HBO’s star-studded collection on the identical matter and we’ve bought tons of Lakers hitting the small display screen in 2022.

47. I’m excited to watch occasion broadcasts innovate. The NFL gave us guts-exploding cannons on Nickelodeon. MLB dreamed up a “Field of Dreams” recreation that resonated in contrast to any regular-season baseball recreation in many years. Last season the NBA placed on a Marvel-inspired broadcast that related with younger audiences. Whatever comes subsequent, it’s going to certainly dominate the dialog.

48. I’m excited to watch the NBA’s greatest X-factor: Patrick Williams. Chicago might end third in the East or twelfth and I’m undecided anybody could be stunned. But for all the eye paid to Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic, it’s Williams who might in the end decide the place the Bulls end. He was this 12 months’s annual “that guy is way too good to be in Summer League” and if his offense comes shut to matching his capability on the opposite finish — early indicators are promising — the Bulls might make some severe noise. Watch out.

49. I’m excited to watch the return of the Play-in Tournament. Not yearly will outcome in a LeBron buzzer-beater to snuff out a herculean effort by Steph Curry, however there’s little question that the NBA’s newest innovation to inject late-season drama resulted in a greater product. More video games, extra moments, much less tanking? Bring all of it on.

50. I’m excited to watch all of it unfold. If final 12 months taught us something, it’s to assume nothing. Who initially of the 12 months picked a Bucks-Suns NBA Final? Or a Conference Finals run by the Hawks? Or Steph Curry throwing up 2016 unanimous MVP vibes? Expect the surprising and have fun the unlikely tales that emerge out of nowhere and problem preconceived notions.

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