It’s only been 71 days since the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA Championship. The Lakers will face rival Crosstown Clippers in one of two opening night games on Tuesday.
In the other opener, the Golden State Warriors will face the Brooklyn Nets.
Unlike the Lakers, the Warriors haven’t played a game since March 10 – 287 days ago.
These differences between teams could play an important role in the outcome of the season.
The team has been busy in the offseason, adding likely starters Marc Gasol, 35, and Wesley Matthews, 34, alongside NBA sixth man of the year Montrezl Harrell.
The Lakers’ likely starting lineup of James, Anthony Davis, Gasol, Matthews and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope looks formidable. But an average age of 31.6 on opening night makes him one of the five oldest in NBA history.
LeBron James will be 36 just over a week into the season, and while he continues to defy the age expectations that plague the rest of the league, this next season could be the real test of his greatness as a player and as a leader. .
Giannis and the dollars
One of the biggest stories to come out of the offseason is the five-year supermax contract extension Giannis Antetokounmpo signed to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks.
It is worth $ 228.2 million and is the largest in NBA history.
Some thought Antetokounmpo might quit the Bucks, but he stuck with it, saying on social media, “This is my home, this is my city. I am fortunate to be able to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks for the next 5 years. Let’s make those years count. The show goes on, let’s go. ”
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer told Athletic he hopes Antetokounmpo continues to emulate other one-team men.
“I know there’s probably more attention and more media when the guys move and change, but I’m thinking about the guys who stayed,” Budenholzer said.
“For me a guy like Tim Duncan, a Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, guys like that, who stayed in one place and made a bit of their legacy to win and win championships and win at a high level, where whether it be. that they’ve been drafted, whether it’s a big deal, a little deal. ”
A championship would certainly leave a legacy in Milwaukee for Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks dominated the 2019-20 regular season, finishing with the best record in the league.
When the playoffs came, the team underperformed, losing their opener to eighth seed Orlando Magic, before crashing in the Eastern Conference semifinals to potential finalists. of Miami Heat.
Despite the end of the wet season, Antetokounmpo won the NBA MVP title for the second year in a row.
To make Antetokounmpo’s contract worth it, for both sides, he must bring the city his second NBA title – and what better year to do so than the 50th anniversary of his first triumph in 1971.
Will Harden go to Brooklyn?
After his initial withdrawal, James Harden is back in Houston. But for how long?
While rumor has it that he’s happy with a trade with a number of teams, the one that arguably makes the most sense for Harden is the Brooklyn Nets where he could form a super team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin. During.
With these three lined up in black and white in New York, the Nets would immediately become legitimate contenders.
Even if Harden stays with the Rockets, the future does not look bright for the team and it could be mutually beneficial for the eight-year relationship to end.
A hard reset for Houston might be the only way out of this situation.
Is the Golden State Dynasty Over?
Between 2015-2019, the Golden State Warriors reached the NBA Finals every season, winning three titles. In 2020, the Warriors finished with the worst record in the entire NBA, scoring just 15 wins in 65 games.
Missing stars Steph Curry, for most of the season, and Klay Thompson, for it all, proved too much of a loss for the team.
In exchange for a dismal season, the team won the second pick in the NBA Draft, where 7-1-1 center James Wiseman was selected.
Wiseman has had a tough year for Memphis, making just three games for the Tigers, but his talent is unmistakable.
The coming season has given the team hope to prove that the 2019-20 season has been a failure, and that the return of Curry and Thompson, along with the addition of Wiseman, could see the team returning in lice.
Unfortunately, that will not happen. Not because the team will fail permanently, but because Thompson tore his right Achilles tendon in a training session in late November and will be out of the season for the second year in a row.
“I can’t just sit here and say I feel good,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. “I have confidence in our players. I trust our coaches. I have confidence in our property. We will continue to move forward. We’re never going to stop. But to be honest, it hurts. It hurts me and I know it hurts our organization. ”
Unless other players step up significantly, it’s hard to see the Warriors prove 2019-20 was a failure.