NBA Training Camps 2021: Start Dates, Schedules and Top Storylines to Watch
It's nearly impossible to forget how the 2020-21 NBA season ended because of how exciting the conclusion was. But if you somehow did, here's a quick refresher.
A fresh NBA Finals matchup pitted the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns head-to-head in a battle for the championship. Although the Suns took a 2-0 lead in the series, things were far from over. The Bucks answered back with four straight victories to capture their first NBA title since 1971.
Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo added a championship to his growing list of accolades, as the season ended in entertaining fashion. Now, it's time to look forward.
Less than two months since the conclusion of those NBA finals, the league's 30 teams are nearing the start of training camp, where they'll begin preparing for the 2021-22 season. Training camp will get underway Sept. 28, a sign that basketball isn't far away.
Preseason action will begin Oct. 3, then the regular season arrives Oct. 19. And while not every team has released its training camp schedule yet, those are likely to keep coming out over the next week.
With camp right around the corner, here's a look at several top storylines around the NBA before things get underway.
Did the Lakers Make the Right Moves to Return to Contention?
LeBron James and Anthony Davis are back, and the Los Angeles Lakers went out and acquired a third star by landing point guard Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards in a blockbuster five-team trade. Can that trio now lead the Lakers to their second NBA title in three years?
Any team that has James, Davis and Westbrook is likely going to make the playoffs and be a championship contender. But whether Los Angeles can end up on top (after getting eliminated in the first round of the postseason in 2020-21) may depend on the other moves it made this offseason.
These are all the players 33 or older who the Lakers have added this summer: Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and Rajon Rondo. It's definitely a list filled with big names, but it's unclear how much of an impact some of these guys can make at this point in their careers.
It should be interesting, nonetheless, as Lakers camp will have no shortage of veteran leadership and experience. Is it the right formula for another championship? Only time will tell. But you can be sure James, Davis and Westbrook are going to try their best to lead this franchise to more success.
Where Is Simmons Going to End Up Playing?
The Ben Simmons trade rumors have been an ongoing saga all summer. And yet, the 25-year-old point guard remains exactly where he was when this offseason started: on the Philadelphia 76ers' roster.
It even got to the point where there were reports that Simmons had told the 76ers he wouldn't be reporting to training camp and wanted to get traded, although Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times recently shared that Philadelphia believes "eventually he's going to show up."
Perhaps this all ends up with Simmons back on the 76ers trying to lead them on a deeper playoff run, after they got eliminated in the second round. Or maybe he could still be traded. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last month that Simmons preferred to be dealt to a team in California, but nothing has materialized.
Whether or not Simmons reports to camp, this will be a storyline to continue to follow throughout the preseason. And if he does end up getting traded, it could change the landscape of the NBA depending on where he lands.
Which Rookies Will Make Immediate Impacts?
There are quite a few rookies who entered the league in the 2021 NBA draft who have the potential to make a quick impact. But the most likely to do so is guard Cade Cunningham, who went No. 1 overall to the Detroit Pistons.
Cunningham was long considered the top prospect in this draft class, and for good reason. He has the size and skills to have a lot of success in the NBA. While the Pistons are still rebuilding and may be a year or two from playoff contention, Cunningham should be fun to watch. And he may even help Detroit outperform expectations in 2021-22.
Among the other rookies who could have big seasons are Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green, Cleveland Cavaliers center Evan Mobley and Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs, all of whom were also taken in the top five. Golden State Warriors guard Moses Moody could also be a name to keep an eye on.
As always, it's fun to watch a wave of new talent prepare to begin their careers throughout training camp and the preseason, and this year is no different.