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Five things to look forward to as the NBA returns

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

October 19th, 2021

The National Basketball Association’s 2021-22 season tips off Tuesday night, with the Brooklyn Nets headed to Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers hosting the Golden State Warriors. There’s plenty to look forward to during the 2021-22 campaign, and here’s a quick list of some of the most notable things to keep an eye on.

1. The Kyrie Irving Circus

Well, this was a lay-up (pun absolutely intended). Kyrie Irving has opted not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and as a result of a conflict between that decision and local regulations, the star guard will not suit up for the Brooklyn Nets for the foreseeable future.

It figures to be a costly decision, as Irving won’t be paid for however long he sits out, and it will be fascinating to see what effect, if any, this has on team chemistry and the play of fellow big names James Harden and Kevin Durant.

2. The aging Lakers roster

The Los Angeles Lakers won a title two seasons ago and have plenty of skill on this year’s roster. However, 10 of the players that will suit up for the squad are on the wrong side of 30. This includes 37-year-old Carmelo Anthony, 36-year-old LeBron James, and 32-year-old Russell Westbrook, who came over in the offseason and will be playing for his third different team in as many campaigns.

3. Can Milwaukee repeat?

The Bucks won the second title in franchise history last season (exactly 50 years after their first), and the campaign also included the club handing all-world forward Giannis Antetokounmpo a massive extension. If you think Milwaukee can bring another title to Wisconsin, you’re getting a fair price. The Bucks are currently the third choice to win it all at +850, behind the Nets (+230) and Lakers (+400).

NBA Championship 2021/2022

Sat, June 18 2022, 11:58 PM

Brooklyn Nets

+230

Los Angeles Lakers

+400

Milwaukee Bucks

+850

Golden State Warriors

+1200

Utah Jazz

+1400

Phoenix Suns

+1600

Philadelphia 76ers

+1600

Los Angeles Clippers

+1800

Denver Nuggets

+2000

Miami Heat

+2000

4. Can Jason Kidd coach?

Much was made about turmoil within the Dallas Mavericks after last season. Rick Carlisle left the organization, and he was replaced by Jason Kidd. Kidd coached in Brooklyn and Milwaukee during the 2010s, and was fired by the latter organization midway through the 2017-18 season. His career record of 183-190 won’t turn any heads, and he’ll now be trusted to get the most out of budding star Luka Doncic and company.

5. Extensions, trades, and rumors

The last few days leading up to this season have been eventful. Kevin Huerter, for instance, inked a four-year, $65 million extension to stay with the Atlanta Hawks, while Daniel Gafford ($40 million) and Grayson Allen ($20 million) also ensured future paydays. One young player who hasn’t signed an extension, though, is Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, whose rookie contract is up at the end of the year.

Ayton has averaged a double-double in each of his first three seasons, and may be a popular name when the trade deadline comes around if he and Phoenix can’t agree on something long-term.

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