One Storyline To Follow For All 30 NBA Teams
Is Dwight Howard going to fit in and not stir up controversy? Is he going to be able to play next to Paul Millsap? After a rocky finish in Orlando, then an ugly departure from the Lakers, and an up-and-down fear years in Houston, Dwight is now in his hometown. If he can’t get it to work in Atlanta…
Can the Celtics develop their young draft picks? Getting Al Horford was great, but what will really take the Celtics to another level is if Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown become solid role players. Marcus Smart is on his way there, but who’s the last player drafted by the Celtics that became anything greater than a role player? (It was Paul Pierce is 1998)
I tried really really hard to think of a Nets storyline to get interested in, but there just isn’t one. Linsanity 2? Maybe. If anything I’m just interested to see what happens when Jeremy Lin and Jarrett Jack play each other.
How much “buzz” (see what I did there?) will there be for a Steph Curry homecoming? Will it gain some steam if the Warriors don’t torch the NBA Earth or if rumours of turmoil arise? You bet. Will it affect current-PG Kemba Walker and his play? We shall find out.
The Butler-Wade-Rondo triad. How are they going to work on the court? How are they going to get along? Is there going to be turmoil beneath the surface?Is there going to be passive-aggression? When is Fred Hoiberg going to come to the realization that he never had full control of this team?
How soon are the Cavaliers going to begin preparing for their playoff run? How many games will LeBron take off to rest? Is Kyrie and Kevin Love going to take on a bigger offensive load to ease LeBron’s workload? It’s all about the playoffs for the Cavaliers so expect nothing more than some LeBron-manufactured drama to get his team motivated to play regular season games.
Harrison Barnes. Is he cut out to be a second option? Is he going to force the issue and try to do too much to prove he was an invaluable piece to the Warriors? Never say never.
Do any of their young players have the potential to be a star? Emmanuel Mudiay started off the season slow, but finished his rookie season off fairly well. Little known Nikola Jokic might actually be the best talent on the roster, though. He torched Team USA in the Olympics this summer and the Nuggets’ success will go as Jokic’s development, and Mudiay’s to a lesser extent, goes.
Is Reggie Jackson really the solution at PG? His first playoff series as the starting PG was a bit of a let down and it’s unclear how much better he can get. He’s solid, but so are most of the other starting PG’s in the league, and the Pistons might be looking to upgrade.
Golden State Warriors
Is Steph going to go out of his way to ease KD’s transition into the team or is KD going to go out of his way to defer to Steph? In the grand scheme of things, it probably won’t affect their record, but it’ll be interesting to see who rises to the top of the food chain.
Are the Rockets better or worse without Dwight Howard? Clint Capela will be a very solid replacement for Dwight so the Rockets won’t be as bad as you might expect, but I’m not going to believe a Mike D’Antoni team will be an above-average defensive team until I see it, and that inherently limits the heights this team can reach.
Are the Pacers actually going to play pace-and-space basketball? That was their proclaimed plan going into the off-season, but then they promoted Nate McMillan to head coach, who is known for anything but pace-and-space, and signed Al Jefferson, the last player you’d want on a pace-and-space team.
Los Angeles Clippers
Will they be able to challenge the Warriors? They still don’t really have anybody who can guard Kevin Durant, but nobody really does. They did address their bench, but will it be enough to actually hang with the Warriors?Let’s hope they can so the Warriors don’t just stroll through to the Finals.
Los Angeles Lakers
How much was Kobe holding back the young guys’ development? Is D’Angelo Russell going to be freed? Is Julius Russell going to take a leap? Is Larry Nance Jr. secretly really good? Regardless, the Lakers’ future is on the rise.
Is the grit-n-grind era over? The core four are still there, but the game has changed. Are the Grizzlies going to begin leaning towards modern day basketball or are they going to double-down on grit-n-grind?
Aside from the whole Chris Bosh situation, what will Pat Riley do? Is he going to put all his eggs in the Summer ’17 basket? Is he even going to stick around ’til then? Also, will Hassan Whiteside be better or worse now that he got paid?
Can Jabari Parker elevate his game to another level? He had a modest second-but-really-first season and showed some signs, but the Bucks will need him to become a go-to offensive option, alongside Giannis, if they want to make some noise in the playoffs.
How big of a jump will they make? Tom Thibodeau will see to it that they become an above-average defensive team, but how far can they get when they have trouble finishing close games? The Wolves are definitely going to be fun, but are we watching an up-and-coming team or are we watching future title contenders?
New Orleans Pelicans
If the Pelicans continue to be a mediocre team, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise, with Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon both gone, watch for rumours of Anthony Davis becoming increasingly discontent with the team surface. Before the season ends, the sentence “Anthony Davis should leave and go to the ______” will be uttered.
New York Knicks
The Derrick Rose situation. No, not his play, but his civil case. He now plays in the media capital of the world, so expect wire-to-wire coverage. What to keep an eye is how it might become the sideshow of the Knicks’ entire season. On the court, the big story will be player health.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Are Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo going to mesh? People seem to think they will, but I have my doubts. Personality-wise, they seem like they can get along just fine, but on the court is a whole other beast. Oladipo needs the ball and has yet to prove he can be effective without it. That’s going to be magnified playing next to a ball-dominant Russell Westbrook.
Did Frank Vogel make the conference finals Pacers or did that group of players just take him along for the ride? In Orlando, he now has a wealth of interesting players so it’ll be interesting to see what he does with them, whether or not he is a top tier coach, and how big of a step the Magic take.
Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, and Nerlens Noel. Who remains on the team and who doesn’t? It might come down to health, but if health pans out, it might just come down to who fits better with Ben Simmons. Either way, the Sixers will be more interesting than they’ve been in the last half-decade.
Remember when the Suns had a clog at the guard positions with Dragic, Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas? Well they’re back in that position again. Bledsoe is still there, but now he’s flanked by Brandon Knight and the young stud Devin Booker. Who’s going to be the odd man out?
Was last season a fluke? The Blazers have added some good but not great pieces in Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli so they should, theoretically, be better, but they also won’t be catching teams by surprise this year. Will they take another step or will they just be another middle-of-the-pack team?
You can’t predict a Kings’ storyline to watch because they’re just so chaotic and unpredictable. Of course there’s the annual DeMarcus Cousins will-he-or-won’t-he get traded storyline, but I’m sure they’ll be some random dysfunctional incident that’ll pop up sooner or later.
San Antonio Spurs
How are the Spurs going to handle their PG situation? Tony Parker is inching closer and closer to the end of his career, and there isn’t another PG on the roster whom you could say is the heir-apparent. That being said, we’re talking about the Spurs, so it’s safe to say some unknown international player is going to show up one day and make us look stupid for ever doubting the Spurs.
Let’s be real. The Toronto Raptors will not be as good as they were last season. Bismack Biyombo was great for them last season, especially as a safety blanket for Jonas. They essentially replaced him with Jared “I’ll play myself into shape” Sullinger. Unfortunately, that is not an upgrade. But hey, you got DeMar DeRozan back on an monstrous contract!
Can the Jazz meet the expectations set for them? Many seem to believe the Jazz will be a playoff team, and I’m certainly one of them, but what level can they really get to? Are they going to be a first-round exit or will a trip to the conference finals be within reach?
The backcourt situation. John Wall is clearly better than Bradley Beal, but you wouldn’t be able to tell based on their salaries. Is there going to be passive-aggression? I don’t think it’s above them. Just wait until Bradley Beal inevitably misses 20 games and the Wizards start to lose games.
Did I miss anything? Feel free to let me know! Completely disagree? Let’s hash it out! Either way, share/recommend to a friend!