Five things to watch out for in 75th NBA season
The 75th season of the NBA is set to be one of the most intriguing and entertaining. There are on court stories, off the court controversies and everything in-between. Here is a list of 5 of the most interesting aspects to keep an eye on as the season starts in the early hours of Wednesday the 20th of October.
1 - Ben Simmons saga rages on
Many column inches and pages and pages of online content, as well as YouTube discussions and dissections have pored over the Ben Simmons drama in Philadelphia. Simmons wants out of Philly after a disappointing showing in the playoffs. He was historically bad from the charity stripe, in fourth quarters of big games and also passed up open shots late in games too. His struggles are well documented, as are his indiscretions since the season ended. However, he is one of the most gifted athletes in the NBA right now and under normal circumstances he and his teammates would be gearing up for another attempt at an NBA title. The massive point guard is a beast when attacking the rim, but his offensive game away from the basket is poor to say the least. His free throw horror shows and lack of a significant jump shot or 3-pointer have made him a non-entity when it comes to attacking threats that opponents need to watch out for. On the fast break he is sensational. His passing is superb. His defensive is stellar. But all anyone is talking about are his failings on the shooting end and his desire to jump ship. The on again-off again dramedy will definitely be one to watch as we the fans wait to see what happens next.
2 – Kyrie Irving to Vax or not to Vax, that is the question
Kyrie Irving has decided to steer clear of the Covid-19 vaccination that over 95 percent of the players in the NBA have taken or have at least had one shot of. Irving has never shied away from taking shots on the hard wood, and having bad takes on critical and sometimes simple issues off it. He is currently exercising his rights as an individual to not get the jab. His team the Brooklyn Nets have also exercised their rights to not play him and likely not pay him due to his stance. It’s a mess. A principled mess maybe, but a mess none the less. Irving is one of the key players for this Nets team that wants to right the wrongs of last season’s playoff loss to eventual champions the Milwaukee Bucks. Without Irving that task becomes a lot harder. Kevin Durant will likely have to shoulder a lot of that workload again, and that will take its toll as well. James harden will be more than useful, as he is the other MVP award winner in the line-up, many eyes will be on him too. Things could change, perhaps Kyrie decides that the best thing for everyone is to take the vaccine and get on with things. But he’s showed in the past that he doesn’t dance to the beat of anyone else’s drum. He’s not expect to do that in this case either.
3 – Rookie class of 2022 will be special
When we look at this rookie class in the years to come there will be much said about the talent that found its way into the NBA in 2021-22. There are some really impressive prospects littered around the league. Number 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham looks likely to be one of the best players to have entered the NBA in recent seasons but not far behind him will be Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody etc. etc. Basically, the whole lottery was stacked with gifted players, with only one or two young hoopers not really being highly thought of. There is so much depth in this class that expectations for players like Davion Mitchell, the 9th pick and James Bouknight the 11th pick are as high as say the top five players selected in the draft. The race for rookie of the year will likely be a hard-fought one and Green and Cunningham will be the front runners. There are a number of outside bets like Barnes and Mitchell that could have the world sitting back and taking notice, and that is what will make this so thrilling.
4 – MVP battle could surprise everyone
The MVP race was a close-run thing for large portions of last term, Nikola Jokic’s health and superb form held up and that led to him being crowned the MVP. Joel Embiid will blame his darned injury issues for robbing him of an individual accolade that could have seen his ego explode, he was superb too but his body didn’t manage to help him out when he needed it most. The story of his career it would seem. Embiid and Jokic were two of the best players all season. This campaign will be a hard one to call early. The bookies are leaning heavily in the Luka Doncic direction and who can blame them? The Slovenian starlet has all of the requisite skill and drive to win the award. But after him is a slew of potential winners. From 2-time winner Giannis Antetokounmpo to fellow 2-timer Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant a former winner is also expected to shine. Last season’s runner-up Embiid will hope to go one better. Jokic could go back-to-back if he excels. Then there is LeBron James, a man you can never count out. The MVP race will be fascinating.
5 – Heavy title favourites could get a nose bleed
The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are the presumptive favourites in the Western and Eastern conferences respectively. Both of these teams have loaded up on firepower with superstars and role players littering the line-ups. The Lakers with their big three in James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook could sweep through the West with the disdain of an advancing army. The Nets will be spearheaded by the duo of Durant and Harden till Irving sorts out his situation, then their big three can take shape once more, or not. With all eyes on those two teams there is a lot of open field ahead of the likes of the defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks, the underrated and oft underperforming Utah Jazz. The Phoenix Suns came so close but were blown out of the water, this could be their second chance. The 76ers could finally work their way into a Simmons trade that strengthens their case for contention. Former ‘Dynasty’ the Golden State Warriors will have something to say once Klay Thompson makes his way back into action. There are so many names to not forget, Hawks, Suns, Nuggets, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Clippers and more. The list is a long one. On their day, any one of those teams could show a top seed a tough time. That is what makes this such a great league. If you get caught slipping, someone could turn around and shock you.