4 NBA storylines to watch during the 2020/21 season
From James Harden's trade request to Steph Curry's return from injury, these are the narratives to follow when the new NBA season gets underway.
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Will Harden be traded?
The biggest talking point ahead of the new NBA season has been 2018 MVP James Harden and the ongoing speculation over his future with the Houston Rockets.
The reigning scoring champion has requested a trade, specifying Philadelphia and Brooklyn as his preferred destinations, and, with no signs of a reconciliation in Houston, it seems only a matter of time until one of the league’s biggest stars has a new home.
Whether the 76ers or Nets are willing to give up enough pieces remains to be seen, but the Rockets are reportedly also now listening to offers from teams outside of their star player’s favoured suitors.
Harden is the kind of generational talent that could instantly turn any team into a playoff contender and snaring him would make the Nets or Sixers the clear favourites to win the Eastern Conference.
How will Durant and Irving mesh in Brooklyn?
Speaking of the Nets, they promise to be one of the most intriguing teams to watch this season with or without Harden, as their two superstars prepare to play together for the first time.
Brooklyn signed top free agent Kevin Durant in the summer of 2019 but had to wait an entire season to get him on the court as he recovered from a torn Achilles.
Now, the two-time Finals MVP is back and ready to form arguably the league’s most devastating offensive duo with six-time All-Star Kyrie Irving.
When healthy, Durant is unquestionably a top-five player and, as good as Irving is, this has to be KD’s team if they are going to win a title.
Irving once demanded a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers because he wanted to get out of LeBron James’ shadow and be the top dog on his own team, so whether he’s willing to hand control of the Nets to Durant is a huge question heading into this season.
How far can Curry take the revamped Warriors?
The Warriors looked primed to get back into title contention this season with Curry and Klay Thompson fully healed from injuries that forced them to miss the 2019/20 campaign.
Then Thompson suffered a torn Achilles in a pickup game in November, ruling him out for another full season and doing huge damage to Golden State’s playoff hopes.
Two-time MVP Curry will now lead a roster that looks very different from the one he led to three titles in four years between 2015 and 2018.
With Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre and rookie James Wiseman, Golden State are probably not good enough to win the title but have the pieces to return to the playoffs if Curry is at his best.
Should he power the new-look Warriors all the way to one of the West’s top four seeds, Curry could be back in the MVP discussion once again.
Which ‘bubble’ star will make the biggest leap?
Last season’s Orlando bubble saw some of the league’s most exciting young players take big steps forward in their career.
Devin Booker was on fire as the Phoenix Suns went 8-0 in Orlando, and he’ll now be helped by the offseason addition of point guard Chris Paul.
The Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell averaged 36.6 points per game in the playoffs – the most of any player – and had two 50-point games in a single playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.
And Jamal Murray looked like a bona fide superstar as he took the Nuggets all the way to the Western Conference Finals, scoring 40+ in three consecutive games in the process.
It’s going to be very exciting to see all three compete again this season, and it would be no surprise if at least one is in the MVP race.
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