Tha Sports Junkies 101

5 Storylines to Look Out For When NBA Training Camp and Preseason Games Begin

NBA Storylines mbk2842/ via


With NBA training camp and the preseason just around the corner, it’s about that time where storylines so good they belong in Hollywood start to develop. Starting lineup questions, head coaching concerns, and the dreaded expectations have started pouring out of NBA front offices. Here’s a look at five storylines that you should keep an eye on when training camp opens up later this month.

Can Philly Stay Healthy Enough to Put Their Wealth of Young Talent to Good Use?

The Philadelphia 76ers are a conundrum. It seems like they have had a top 5 draft pick each of the last five years, yet they still have a lot of talent on their roster. For Philly, their success starts with Markelle Fultz. The 76ers swapped their third overall pick for Boston’s number one pick and took the 19-year-old Fultz out of Washington. He will join multiple other players under 25, bringing the total number on their roster to 12. Injuries to Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Jahlil Okafor have been the reason for multiple down years in a row now for Philly. The addition of veteran sharpshooter JJ Redick and big man Amir Johnson should make the development of younger players easier and smoother.

Fultz sprained his ankle in a Summer League game, which is just Philly’s luck, but he appears to be fine now. If him, Simmons, Embiid, and Okafor can coexist and stay healthy, they could make the 76ers an NBA juggernaut for years to come.

How Do Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving Fit on Their New Teams?

Following last month’s blockbuster trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics, we were left with a few burning questions. Most notably how will the two fit with their new teams, and how long will it take Thomas’ hip to heal? It will be interesting to see how each player fits in with their new team throughout training camp and their preseason games because it will give us a preview of how each team’s season might go.

How will Kyrie handle sharing the spotlight with Gordon Hayward? Will Isaiah fit the Cavs’ “big three” scheme alongside LeBron and Kevin Love? Is Kevin Love even relevant anymore? (sorry Kevin) Obviously, Love is relevant and he is still a star, but he tended to disappear in big moments last season. Will we see more of the same this season, or will Isaiah’s ability to see the court help him become more involved in the Cavs’ offense? If Kyrie and Hayward and the Cavs’ new big three can develop strong chemistry we may see an Eastern Conference Finals rematch this season.

Is Lonzo Ball Worth The Hype?

All of the storylines surrounding Lonzo and LaVar and the entire Ball family are out of control. However, as LaVar Ball pointed out, people may not be fans of his family, but they’re talking about them. Lonzo demands attention because of his talent and potential status as the new face of the Lakers. LaVar literally demands attention by yelling at you through your TV or phone or computer or whatever else. This begs the question: is Lonzo really worth all the hype he’s received. LA currently lists Ball as their starting point guard, which should come as no surprise. Surrounded by other talented players such as Brandon Ingram, Brook Lopez, and Julius Randle, Lonzo should have no shortage of opportunities to rack up the assists.

The entire Lakers projected starting lineup is under 30, with Lopez being the oldest at 29. This means that if their current core of players can stick together and produce consistently, it might not be long before the Lakers are back to their Showtime days. If Lonzo can prove himself as a solid starting point guard, that will mean two things. One: he was worth all the hype. Two: We’re never going to hear the end of it from LaVar.

Where will Dwyane Wade and Melo land? (And Their Never Ending Storylines)

For two future hall-of-famers, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony have dealt with a lot of team turmoil. While Wade is still currently on the Bulls roster and Melo on the Knicks, there has been lots of speculation that both will be on the move soon. After a failed one-year experiment in Chicago, Wade is expected to reach a buyout agreement with the Bulls soon. He has been linked to a few teams including Cleveland, Miami, and Houston. Melo, on the other hand, is a difficult case. Currently stuck on the trainwreck that is the Knicks, it is very clear that neither party wants to be with the other. The Knicks have tried and failed to find trading partners this offseason. Melo has also been linked to Houston and to a lesser extent Cleveland.

I expect Wade to make a quick pit stop in Cleveland before eventually landing back in Miami. Even if it is just for one year, I do think he will retire with the team that drafted him back in 2003. Carmelo could go a few different ways. I think the Rockets are the likely choice because of his friendship with Chris Paul, but it’s not a definite. Either way, look for both stars to change teams in the next few weeks.

Does Any Team in the West Have the Potential to Challenge Golden State?

We already know that the Western Conference is far superior to the Eastern Conference. The Spurs are an obvious contender, as are the Rockets, but who else is there? With the addition of Chris Paul, I expect Houston to steal the two seed in the West from the Spurs. Assuming San Antonio finishes third, I think there’s only really three other teams that have a chance in the West this year. Oklahoma City with their new duo of Russell Westbrook and Paul George should finish with the 4 or 5 seed. I also expect Minnesota to be competitive this year. The daunting big three of Towns, Wiggins and Butler have unlimited potential. The Timberwolves are a young team who could give the Warriors and Spurs of the NBA some difficulty this year.

Aside from OKC and Minnesota, I would not be surprised if New Orleans gets into the mix this year. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis’ first full season together should be special. Combined with a backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday, and the Pelicans could be as scary as their mascot, but in a good way. Other than Other than those six teams, I don’t really see anyone else in the West who will have a chance this season, but who knows. The NBA is full of surprises and new, developing storylines. That’s what makes it fun.

What other storylines are you following this offseason? Leave a comment down below!

Follow TSJ Sports on Twitter @TSJ_Sports and @TSJ_NBA. You can follow me @mholzapfel3.