by Manuel Muniz
The fall is here, which means only one thing: The NBA is back!
The league is set to celebrate its 75th anniversary this season after a year of countless postponed games and empty arenas due to COVID-19. So now there is hope some normalcy will be the case in 2021-2022.
To no one’s surprise, the Brooklyn Nets, led by Kevin Durant, James Harden and company, are considered the favorites in the Eastern Conference. The Los Angeles Lakers are also considered favorites in the Western Conference and are the most likely team to meet the Nets at the end. The Lakers will feature a new supporting cast around LeBron James and Anthony Davis this season, including Russell Westbrook who is a former NBA MVP. Last year injuries hurt LA, after they lost LeBron, and that really hurt their chances. But this year they come with a vengeance.
But the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks won’t simply give up their crown. Their core three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday remain in tact and are ready to defend the title.
Other interesting teams to look out for are the Chicago Bulls, who obtained former Spur DeMar DeRozan and could be making some noise. The Miami Heat also picked up a proven vet in Kyle Lowry, and with Jimmy Butler, they will certainly do some damage in the post season.
The Golden State Warriors, with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, are slated to make a comeback and seem hungrier than ever to prove the Splash Brothers dynasty is not over just yet.
Probably the biggest question mark comes from the West with the Phoenix Suns. They were defeated by the Bucks in six games and want a crack at the trophy once more. But are they capable of repeating success, or was last year just a fluke?
As for the “Texas Trio,” they seem to be outside looking in. The Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs were so used to being on top, but now they are fighting with the bottom-tier teams. Since 2000, they have had three of the best franchise records in the NBA, won five titles and only had four seasons with losing records among them. (four Spurs, one for the Mavericks). But this season, none of them seem to be a threat for the title.
The best bet Texas fans have is the Mavs, with 2019 Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic by their side. Expect the Slovenian to work his magic. While the Mavs aren’t necessarily contenders, they are expected to be competitive.
As for the Rockets and Spurs, they are in a rebuilding stage and will more than likely tank the season. But stranger things have happened.
The NBA storylines off of and on the court will be heating up as the season continues. It will certainly be interesting to see how teams adjust to the fans after they were absent last year, and how much of a difference it could make.
The season began on October 19, 2021 and will run through April 20, 2022.