The NBA will open the 2020-2021 hostilities this December 22 with 4 high profile teams and lots of interesting storylines. Set to open the season will be the newly-retooled Brooklyn Nets hosting the latest dynasty in the league, the Golden State Warriors. Following shortly will be the Battle for Los Angeles once again, between now reigning champs Los Angeles Lakers, and their inter-city rival and last year’s favorite to win it all, the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Brooklyn Nets will be bannered by the ex-Warrior and 2-time Finals MVP, Kevin Durant. He will be meeting his former team for the first time. Kevin will lead a dangerous line-up with Kyrie Irving co-starring, and DeAndre Jordan, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie leading a strong back-up support.
But the Golden State Warriors, proud holders of 3 of the last 6 NBA championship trophies, are likewise poised to mount a serious challenge. Despite the unfortunate re-injury leading to the extended absence of Klay Thompson, both Steph Curry and Draymond Green are healthy, and there’s their prized rookie, James Wiseman providing muscle underneath. Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr will try to fill Klay’s loss at the wings tempoorarily.
It will be interesting to watch the match-up between Steph and Kyrie at point guard; and the face-off between Kevin and Draymond. The outspoken Draymond had figured much in Kevin’s decision to leave the Warriors. Plus there’s the coaching duel between two cerebral former guards themselves, the Warriors’ Steve Kerr and Nets’ rookie coach and future Hall of Famer, Steve Nash.
Will the Kevin-Kyrie partnership produce good results? Will the old Warrior magic return to its full potency? Which supporting cast will come out on top? How will Steve Nash handle 2 superstars and a talented support cast? Will the Warriors regain their lofty place in the NBA hierarchy, with more and more promising young players itching to show they belong? These are certainly some intriguing storylines that Game 1 of the season can give a preview of.
On the other hand, Game 2 of the season will be a continuing saga of the great battle for LA. For the longest time, the Lakers have been the premiere team in the city. Last year, the Clippers made its most serious move ever to finally dislodge their rivals. It was Lebron vs Kawhi, AD vs George, and many more. It was a storybook blockbuster face-off that everyone had been looking forward to see.
But then, the Denver Nuggets spoiled the party.
Leading 3-1 in their best-of-7 series against the Nuggets, and just about ready to face the Lakers for their long-awaited Western Conference title series, the Clippers suffered a rare brain freeze and got struck with a fatal dagger that finished off their title dreams. The rest is history. The Lakers ran off with the trophy, minus that much-awaited haymaker match against the Clips. Would things have been different if the Clippers had been the Lakers’ dance partners at the Western Finals?
This year however, the defending champs Lakers are in a much better position, having beefed up on practically all fronts. Enlisted to back up the top league duo of Lebron James and Anthony Davis were Marc Gasol (from the 2019 champs Toronto Raptors), Montrezl Harrell (6th Man of the Year 2020, ‘stolen’ from the Clippers themselves), Dennis Schroder (runner-up 6th Man of the Year 2020), and deadly scorer Wes Matthews. Despite the loss of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Javale McGee, DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard, these new arrivals are still considered a clear upgrade from last year’s title-winning team.
The Clippers, on the other hand, made very little changes in their roster, with only Serge Ibaka and Luke Kennard as the only notable additions. No longer around with the team are Harrell (to the Lakers), JaMychal Green (to the Nuggets) and Landry Shamet (to the Nets). The only other significant change was in the coaching staff, with Ty Lue now occupying the head coach position.
Be that as it may, this Clipper team remains a clear contender for the crown. The team simply needs to clear its chemistry woes, as the talent is definitely still there. If they all learn to be on the same page, this team will definitely be a serious threat to the Lakers.
Will the Lakers repeat as NBA champs? How will the Clippers cure their chemistry woes? With all the new names in the Laker roster, will the Lakers’ superteam surpass the chemistry virus that’s bound to hit it? How will new coach Ty Lue fare? These are some of the burning issues that will need to be answered.
No thanks to the virus that plagues us today, the NBA season will have a shorter, more condensed schedule. Safety issues has forced the NBA to redesign the schedule. Traveling has been minimized, resulting in more back-to-back games. The biggest change was felt by Toronto fans, after their Raptor team was forced to relocate temporarily to Tampa due to Canada’s strict quarantine restrictions. These are just some of the off-court developments spicing up the NBA season this year.
But the show must go on. There are new star combinations that excite us. There is of course the defending champs’ premiere duo of Lebron and AD. There too are the Kawhi – George tandem, the Kevin – Kyrie duo, the Joel Embiid – Ben Simmons duo in Philadelphia, the young upstarts from Denver: Nikola Jokic and Jamaal Murray, the honeymooning James Harden – John Wall team-up in Houston and the Russell Westbrook – Bradley Beal tag team in Washington. Plus many, many more. This season will bring sports magic and excitement to our homes. Come and watch as your favorite stars – plus an added bonus of some new emerging ones – come to rock and razzle, roll and dazzle, in this Yuletide opening.
Have a Merry Christmas, everyone! And do keep safe.
Cover Photo courtesy of YouTube.