I’m going to love this season

I’m going to love this season
October 06
13:32 2021

Heading into the NBA season last year, I thought there was a lot of intrigue as to who would eventually win the championship. I did not see the Bucks winning, but I was happy for the small market team winning it all. Overall, last year was great, but with all of the storylines heading into this year, I think the 2021-22 season will be even better.

First and foremost, I want to start with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have added quite a few veteran players to their roster this year in an attempt to get another banner in the Staples Center. They added veterans such as  Russell Westbrook via trade with the Washington Wizards, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Wayne Ellington and DeAndre Jordan.

The Lakers will have the oldest roster in the NBA; however, they will have three of the top 20 players in the league on one team in Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That trio, along with their collection of veterans, will be a very formidable team. The question remains as to whether or not they can gel together with so many new pieces and can all of those 30+ year-old-veteran bodies make it through an 82-games season, as well as the playoffs.

Even in year 19, James still remains one of the top three players in the world, which is unbelievable when you think about it. I previously wrote in a column that I am not sure how they will incorporate Westbrook into their team. I don’t think you get the best out of Westbrook if you attempt to hold him back from doing what he does best and that’s attack.

Laker coach Frank Vogel is a good coach and James is arguably the smartest NBA player we have ever seen, so between those two, I think they will figure out the best way to implement what Westbrook does best within the team offense. If healthy, the Lakers have a great chance to win it all, but it will be difficult in the tough Western Conference.  

Another interesting topic this season will be the players who are not vaccinated. The NBA recently announced that any player who elects to not comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games they miss.

This was announced after executive orders governing vaccination requirements in both New York and San Francisco that could affect the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors. The order in New York, which applies to the Barclays Center, requires one COVID shot; to enter San Francisco’s Chase Center, one must be fully vaccinated. The Knicks are not included due to their entire staff and roster being fully vaccinated in compliance with New York City law.

I am glad the NBA has not implemented a mandatory vaccination for all of its players, but has made it mandatory for their employees and officials. I am not for forcing people to be vaccinated because it’s their choice as to whether or not they want it, but I do think they should be subjected to more stringent testing if they are not vaccinated.

The next thing I will be interested to see is how the reigning champions will fare. It was unexpected by many to see the Bucks win it all, especially after going down 0-2 to the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals. The Bucks will have a tough time repeating as champions, due to several teams getting back previously injured players and other teams reloading for another championship run.

To be honest, I will be surprised if the Bucks even get out of the Eastern Conference, because I am not sure anyone can stop the Brooklyn Nets. With Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, the Nets are the juggernauts of the East and if they stay healthy, I am not sure anyone can beat them. 

The Nets also have a stable of aging veterans who will bring valuable experience to their team as well. Players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, Patty Mills and Paul Millsap are great role players for the Nets to deploy. The only problem I foresee with them is if they can keep all of their stars on the floor at the same time. The injury bug bit the Nets hard last season, possibly costing them a chance at a championship.

The Golden State Warriors will be an intriguing team for me to watch this season. I want to see if All-Star guard Klay Thompson comes back and plays like the old Klay. He has missed two seasons due to tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

With modern medicine the way it is and players taking better care of their bodies than ever before, I think Thompson can regain his All-Star level very quickly. His game was never really predicated on pure athleticism, so his ACL injury should not stop him from doing what he has always done and that’s shoot the basketball at a very high level.

The backcourt of Thompson and Stephen Curry is the greatest shooting backcourt of all time. They have three championships together and just a few years ago, they were the team to beat in the West. Now the hunted have become the hunters and I think they are ready to show the rest of the league they still are a team to be taken seriously.

With the championship pedigree that the Warriors have, I firmly believe they will be one of the top three teams in the Western Conference heading into the playoffs. I think the Warriors want to prove that Durant was not the only reason they won those back-to-back titles.  

When it comes to the other teams in the West, it’s not just about the Lakers and Warriors. I want to see if the Suns were just one-year wonders or can they build upon their Finals’ run last year. Can Utah and Denver continue to grow into championship contenders? Will the Clippers finally live up to all of the hype? Too many questions, to be honest.

The Eastern Conference has its share of question marks as well. Philly was the number one seed going into last year’s playoffs, but with Ben Simmons wanting to be traded, who knows what will happen with the 76ers. Will the Knicks and Atlanta build on their successful seasons last year? Can Miami and Boston bounce back after down seasons in 2020-21?  

I like that there is no clear-cut favorite heading into the season and every squad has their own question marks. Lots of intrigue, lots of questions, and when it’s all said and done, it will probably be a lot of fun at the end of the year. 

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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