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NBA top five intriguing storylines going into the 2020-2021 season

NBA top five intriguing storylines going into the 2020-2021 season


The new NBA season is upon us, and just like years past, certain headlines will feature dominant discussions in NBA circles and around the league. 

Following the condensed offseason, the 2020/2021 campaign will be no different, with numerous talking points to monitor and dissect as the weeks and months go on. 

With that being said, let’s take a look at five top storylines heading into the new season. 

1. The chemistry between Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

All eyes are on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving this upcoming season. As both stars were forced to watch their Brooklyn Nets teammates from the sidelines last campaign, the duo is now fully healthy and ready to make their mark in the East. 

On paper, the Nets look like the most talented offensive team in the league, but games aren’t won on paper as we’ve seen. 

Despite Irving and Durant’s combined talent, there will be some inevitable growing pains along the way. Both players prefer the ball in their hands, and neither are natural playmakers. 

They may be good friends off the court, but on-court chemistry is an entirely different thing, and in most cases, it takes well over a year to get it to a championship level.

Both players have familiarity with each other through Team USA but have yet to suit up alongside each other on the NBA hardwood. 

The pair may take at least half a season to understand their running partner’s tendencies, and in that time, the Nets will have to keep their heads above water in an ever-improving Eastern Conference. 

2. Can the Milwaukee Bucks get over the hump and into the NBA Finals?

The Milwaukee Bucks have undergone their fair share of controversy this offseason following the mega-trade for two-way specialist Jrue Holiday. 

After the deal was made official, the front office’s attempt to sign and trade for talented European scorer Bogdan Bogdanovic fell apart in the blink of an eye. 

The news got worse with franchise superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo showing no signs of putting pen to paper on a max extension, so the organization may be relying on their success this season to convince Antetokoumnpo to stay long term. 

Holiday makes them better, but one must wonder if it is enough to get them over the hump. They mortgaged their future to secure his services, and while he does improve their starting line-up, their depth was significantly impacted, which has been the backbone of their recent regular-season success. 

At the end of the day, whether or not they can fend off the East’s growing rivals may depend on Antetokounmpo’s ability to shoot the ball in the postseason and remain productive when teams pack the paint when it matters most. 

Update: According to NBA Insider Shams Charania, Giannis Antetokounmpo has signed a five-year contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks. The deal is worth $228.2 million.

3. The progression of Zion Williamson and the Pelicans in year two. 

Zion Williamson may have sat most of his rookie season, but he was imposing when he did play. Because of this, many around the league are anticipating the New Orleans Pelicans to take a massive jump this upcoming campaign, as Williamson and Brandon Ingram (who was named the NBA’s most improved player) lead the roster. 

With the arrival of George Hill and Eric Bledsoe in the trade for Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans’ backcourt has all of a sudden become crowded, with versatile point guard Lonzo Ball still with the team. As such, it will be interesting to see who is handed starting duties, but there is no reason the Pelicans can’t earn a playoff berth with Williamson leading the way in his sophomore season. 

4. Can Steph Curry and the Warriors right the ship without Klay Thompson?

Klay Thompson going down with an Achilles tear was the most devastating news any true NBA fan heard this offseason. With Thompson being ruled out, the Warriors may realistically be out of title contention, but it doesn’t mean they can’t’ still be an exciting playoff team in the West. 

Bob Myers and the front office pivoted entirely after learning the severity of Thompson’s injury by bringing in Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore in free agency, drafting talented big man James Wiseman, and trading for versatile wing Kelly Oubre Jr.

With a healthy Steph Curry, a hungry Andrew Wiggins, and a rejuvenated Draymond Green, the Warriors will surprise a lot of people this upcoming season. Don’t be shocked if they upset a higher seed in the playoffs. 

5. Will the Clippers overtake the Los Angeles Lakers as the premier threat in the West?

It’s safe to say the Los Angeles Lakers comprehensively won the NBA offseason. It’s rare to see a championship team undergo so much change, but GM Rob Pelinka upgraded the roster in every facet after their title. 

Although they’ve improved, the target on their back is as big as ever, with the rest of the Western Conference ready to challenge the champions. The biggest challenger will likely come from across the hall in the L.A. Clippers. 

Despite flaming out in last season’s playoffs, the Clippers still have the best perimeter duo in the league in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They did say goodbye to Montrezl Harrell and head coach Doc Rivers as notable departures. Still, They did upgrade in many people’s estimations with the acquisition of Serge Ibaka and the hiring of Ty Lue. Although teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets are continuing on their upward trajectory, the Lakers’ biggest threat in the West will likely be their bitter crosstown rivals. 

Overcoming the dominant duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James is arguably the most challenging task in the league right now. Still, the Clippers are as worthy as anyone to fight for the crown.  

Photo courtesy of the NBA.

Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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