Skip to main content

The Biggest Question For Every NBA Team: Can Kyrie Irving & Kevin Durant Co-Exist? Can The Lakers Make More Threes?

The Biggest Question For Every NBA Team: Can Kyrie Irving & Kevin Durant Co-Exist? Can The Lakers Make More Threes?

We are just a week away from the start of the 2020-2021 NBA season. There will be tankers, fringe playoff contenders, mid-tier playoffs hopefuls, and elite title contenders. There is one thing that unites all the 30 teams and that is all franchises have their flaws.

Every team is going to try to find a way to address those flaws throughout the season. Let’s take a look at each team’s biggest question as each team prepares for the regular season.

Atlanta Hawks: Can The Younglings Mature?

After a while, the youthful glow begins to fade and fans want results. Trae Young is coming off his first All-Star appearance and enters his third season. The same goes for John Collins who averaged a double-double last year. While the Hawks have intriguing young talent, the team made moves to bring in Clint Capela, Danillo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Rajon Rondo. This team could make a run towards the playoffs, but that all depends if De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Kevin Huerter can take the next step forward in their development.

Boston Celtics: Is This It For Brad Stevens?

The Celtics had the opportunity to make the NBA Finals last season before falling to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now, the East looks a tad tougher. While the Heat brings back their same roster, the Milwaukee Bucks made moves to bolster their team. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are healthy and ready to lead the Brooklyn Nets. The Toronto Raptors are going to give teams problems all year long. At some point, Danny Ainge has to wonder if Stevens will ever get the Celtics over the top. Stevens has led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals three times in the last four seasons. However, with no NBA Finals appearances, we could see Ainge look to make a change.

Brooklyn Nets: Can Kyrie Irving & Kevin Durant Co-Exist?

Irving is already making headlines for his behavior and comments. He stood up to the media and was fined $25,000. He then passively threw shade at LeBron James by not calling him a closer, while he took flack from Kevin Love for calling his former teammates “pawns.” Irving has a lot to handle, which is why we saw him run out of Boston. Durant reportedly had issues with teammates when he was with Golden State, specifically with Draymond Green. The two are top-10 players when they are playing their best. If the Nets are going to make a run towards an NBA title, the tandem will have to get along.

Charlotte Hornets: Can LaMelo Ball Save The Michael Jordan’s Reputation?

Ever since Michael Jordan took over the Hornets, the franchise has made the playoff just one time. Jordan has made some poor moves. From the Nicolas Batum contract to Terry Rozier to potentially signing Gordon Hayward for over $100 million, Jordan has consistently left the Hornets to fend near the bottom of the league. The Hornets ranked last in points per game, barely averaging over 102 points per contest. That’s why the team used the No. 3 overall picks on LaMelo Ball. In high school, Ball once scored 92 points. Even when you narrow through the drama with his father Lavar, Ball was a top-3 recruit before he decided to forgo college and play professionally. If Ball is the real deal, then the Hornets franchise could be salvaged.

Chicago Bulls: Will The Core’s Potential Live Up To Expectations?

What makes the Bulls interesting is that the core lineup of Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and Zach Lavine has not finished a full season together healthy. Otto Porter Jr. is like a new free agent after he played in just 14 games last season, while Coby White is ready to show that he is a legit starter in this league. The ceiling for the starting lineup is making a run at one of the backend playoff spots. If Billy Donovan can’t get this team to perform, then fans can’t blame the coach anymore.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Will Kevin Love Be Traded?

The Cavaliers are a top contender for the No. 1 draft next season. The team on paper is not good but could be on the rise after a couple of years. That’s why trading Love for assets would be a great move for the franchise. Love has three years left on his deal and the 32-year old could provide real help for a contending team. Love averaged 17.6 points and 9.8 rebounds last year. With Andre Drummond’s huge salary coming off the books next year, the Cavs could finally start adding pieces. The first move needs to be finding a trade partner for Love.

Dallas Mavericks: Who Will Help Luka Doncic?

The easy answer to this is Kristaps Porzingis, but he won’t be available until January at the earliest. When Porzingis went down with an injury in the playoffs, Doncic nearly led the Mavericks to an upset over the Clippers by himself. With the Mavericks missing Porzingis in the beginning part of the season, the team doesn’t want to get off to a slow start. Tim Hardaway JrJosh Richardson, Maxi Kleber, and Jalen Brunson have to find a way to contribute. Doncic could be an MVP-candidate this season after posting 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists last year. In the end, he can’t do it all.

Denver Nuggets: Will The Real Jamal Murray Please Stand Up?

In the playoffs, Murray scored 50 points twice against the Utah Jazz and once scored 42 points. In the Western Conference Finals, Murray scored over 20 points in four of the five games against the Los Angeles Lakers. However, during the regular season, Murray averaged 18.5 points per game, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. Murray hasn’t shown his playoff production consistently throughout a regular season. The Nuggets will be a top-3 team in the Western Conference this season with what Murray produces regularly. If the team wants to challenge the Lakers for the top spot in the West, then Murray has to transform his game to consistently play the way he did in the playoffs, but for 72 games.

Detroit Pistons: Will Blake Griffin Be A Piston All Year?

When comparing the stats to the payout, Griffin has a case at owning one of the worst contracts in the league. He is owed north of $36 million this season and $38 million next season. That’s a lot of money for somebody that can stay on the court. In the last six seasons, Griffin has played (ending with the most recent season) 35, 61, 33, 25, 75, and 15 games respectively. In 2018, when Griffin played the most games since 2013, he averaged 24.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. There is no denying the former No. 1 overall pick can play well. It’s just that is a lot of money and it will be hard for Detroit to move him.

Golden State Warriors: Can Andrew Wiggins Handle It?

When Klay Thompson went down with a season-ending injury, the Golden State Warriors’ title hopes took a huge shot. Although, a lineup of Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kelly Oubre, and James Wiseman is still a solid lineup that bad teams would love to have. This is going to be the season that defines Wiggins, the former No. 1 overall pick in 2014. Wiggins has never made an All-Star game despite being paid like a superstar. Wiggins has played in the postseason once in his career, and that was when Jimmy Butler was the leader. He has averaged over 20 points in a season just one time since 2016. Wiggins is used to just getting by on bad Minnesota Timberwolves teams. This time, he has to produce, so can he handle the spotlight?

Houston Rockets: Can The Relationship With James Harden Be Fixed?

Recent reports suggest that the Philadelphia 76ers are the leading contender to trade for the former MVP. Harden has reportedly also said he would like a trade to the Nets, so he can chase Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. After playing with the likes of Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, Harden has failed to take the Rockets to an NBA Championship. He wasn’t too happy when Daryl Morey left as the team’s GM either. While Harden is supposedly back training in Houston, he will have his third superstar partner, John Wall, in his third straight season. If the Rockets flake out in the middle of the playoffs again, Harden could be a lot louder with his trade demands.

Indiana Pacers: How Committed Is Victor Oladipo?

Oladipo should be fully recovered from a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee. Instead of fielding questions about his injury, Oladipo has had to take lingering questions about his future with the Pacers. He enters the final year of his contract and hasn’t received much headway in contract negotiations. Oladipo hasn’t regained full All-Star status since sustaining the injury in January 2019. While Oladipo has stated that he wants to continue to play with the Pacers, the two sides appear to be on two different sides.

Los Angeles Clippers: Can This Be An Elite Defense?

With Patrick Beverley, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George, the Clippers contain three of the best defenders in the league. Last year, the trifecta showed glimpses of their potential, by holding teams to a third-best field-goal percentage (43.8%) in the league. As a whole team, the Clippers allowed the 13th most points though, which is not going to cut it. Serge Ibaka will be a nice upgrade at center and was a part of the Raptors squad that ranked second in allowed field-goal percentage. If the pieces can all gel together, the Clippers could stifle all types of offenses.

Los Angeles Lakers: Can The Lakers Make More Threes?

The Lakers ranked 21st in three-point field goal percentage and 20th in three-point field goals made per game last season. The pieces that left, Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard, were not great outside shooters. Coming into this season, Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, and Wes Matthews all can produce from outside the three-point line. The Lakers are best in transition with LeBron James and Anthony Davis running the floor, but in the halfcourt, some kind of offense must be in action. The management tried to retool this team with shooters, so let’s see if the gamble pays off.

Memphis Grizzlies: Is Ja Morant A True Superstar?

The Hawks were spoiled with Trae Young’s development. In Young’s first season, he averaged 19.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 8.1 assists. That grew to 29.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 9.2 assists in his second season. Morant won the NBA Rookie of the Year last season by averaging 17.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 7.3 assists. There are high expectations for the 21-year old heading into this season. The Grizzlies were on the cusp of making the postseason last year. The defense was a top-10 squad in allowed field goal percentage. If the Grizzlies want to compete in the loaded Western Conference, the franchise needs Morant to take a turn like Young.

Miami Heat: What Is Tyler Hero's Ceiling?

From the bubble to the NBA Finals, the Heat rookie made a name for himself. His most memorable performance was his 37-point outburst against the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. When Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic battled injuries in the championship, it was Herro stepping up as the second-leading scorer. On the season, Herro shot 38% from the three-point range. With the Bucks and Nets lurking near the top, the Heat will need Herro to continue his outside range. The question is how high can he rise?

Milwaukee Bucks: Can Giannis Deliver?

There is no need to talk about the stats. There is no need to talk about how Giannis Antetokounmp is the two-time MVP of the league. What we need to talk about is how the Bucks can’t get over the hump and into the NBA Finals. The Bucks tried to retool their team by acquiring Jrue Holiday from the Pelicans after the Bucks were beaten by the Heat in the second round of the playoffs. The Bucks recently signed Giannis to a five-year, $228 million supermax deal. Now that he has his money, he has to give his return on the investment. This is his chance to prove that he can be a true “alpha” in the NBA.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Can The Team Play Any Defense?

As a team, the Timberwolves ranked third from the bottom in points allowed (117.5). That also included ranking near the bottom in field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, as well as second-worst in allowed rebounds. The team’s lone upgrade was Anthony Edwards, the 2020 No. 1 overall pick. Edwards wasn’t known for defense in college. While the team is hoping that Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, and Karl-Anthony Towns can become a “Big 3,” the defense needs major improvement before Minnesota ever competes.

New Orleans Pelicans: Did The Future Arrive?

For years, we keep hearing about the youth the Pelicans have. Lonzo Ball is a great, young player. Brandon Ingram is a great young player. Zion Williamson, as young as he is, is going to be a star in the NBA. The youth is starting to fade. Ball has been in the league for three years, and Ingram was just signed to an expensive contract. Williamson is supposed to be a generational type of player. The team traded for Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams. If the Pelicans don’t make the postseason, then it’s going to be hard to keep listening about the youth movement.

New York Knicks: Everything

The Knicks have way too many questions than answers, so we can’t narrow it down to one. Who is going to score for a team that was second-worst in points per game? That includes a team three-point field goal percentage that ranked 27th overall. The defense improved to 18th overall in points allowed, but there are no stars on this team. The Knicks didn't overpay this offseason, which was the smart decision, but that means the team that won 21 games last season didn’t improve. It’s going to be a very rough season for New York.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Are The Thunder Done Trading?

The Thunder down 17 first-round picks to the 2026 NBA Draft. Trading away Chris Paul. Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder showed that the Thunder are building from scratch. The team brought in Al Horford, George Hill, and Trevor Ariza through trades. All three are proven veterans that could help to contend teams down the stretch. Horford is due $27 million in annual salary over the next three seasons, so his contract will be hard to move. However, Hill and Ariza could be cost-effective and could get the Thunder a second-round pick and/or an expiring contract.

Orlando Magic: Will Markelle Fultz Emerge?

Fultz is treading water towards being fully engaged in the conversation of worst overall picks to be ever drafted. The 76ers drafted Fultz No. 1 overall back in 2017. In that season, Fultz played in just 14 games and was said to have tried to alter his shooting form. He then lasted just 22 games in 2018 where he averaged 8.2 points per game. The 76ers had enough and traded him to the magic. He had a productive year with 12.1 points per game, 3.3 rebounds, and 5.1 assists in 72 games. At just 22 years old, there is no reason to believe that Fultz can’t be a standout basketball player in the league. The question is can he be a caliber player that most franchises would select at No. 1?

Philadelphia 76ers: Will Doc Rivers Complete The Process?

First, we had to wait for the health of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Next, the team made a deal for Jimmy Butler. Then, the 76ers needed more pieces, so the team signed Al Horford and Tobias Harris. Now, it’s the coach’s fault, so the team fired Brett Brown. At some point, “trusting the process,” can’t be the default that 76ers fans use when making excuses for these teams not living up to expectations. The 76ers let Horford walk, but are going to roll the dice with Simmons and Embiid for at least one more season. Hiring Doc Rivers, a well-regarded head coach, will hopefully be the final piece of the puzzle. At least, that’s what Philly thinks.

Phoenix Suns: How Much Better Does CP3 Make The Suns?

When the Suns watched Chris Paul take an Oklahoma City Thunder team and lead them to a No. 5 seed, they thought this could be done in Phoenix. Before last season, the Thunder traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Paul. Nobody expected the Thunder to contend, but instead, the team pushed the Rockets to the brink of elimination and forced a Game 7 in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Now, the Suns traded for Paul and will look for him to lead a young team that is headlined by Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. The pieces on the Suns have a higher ceiling, so if Paul can work a miracle, the results could be even more prosperous.

Portland Trail Blazers: Can Carmelo Anthony Be A Spark Off The Bench?

By the playoffs, Anthony was starting at small forward for the Trail Blazers. As the new season begins, Anthony will be the first man off the bench. It will be the first time that we have seen Anthony welcome this role. Despite coming off the bench, Anthony still averaged north of 32 minutes per game and averaged 15.4 points per game. It was sort of a Cinderella story for Anthony to even play last season after a messy divorce with the Houston Rockets that nearly saw him retire. Anthony has been given time to get used to his new role, which is to give the team offense off the bench. The former scoring champion should be great at this. If he can provide points off the bench like Lou Williams, then the Trail Blazers will be an even more dangerous offensive team. The team ranked fifth overall in points per game last season. That could grow exponentially.

Sacramento Kings: Can The Kings Stop Being Average?

Go ahead and play around with the stats from last season. In nearly every offensive and defensive category, the Kings ranked in the middle. Being in NBA purgatory is the worst spot that you can be. Being average means mediocre draft selections and first-round exits. Now, the Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006, so more on that later. The Kings need one of their “star” players to live up to the hype. De’Aaron Fox was just given a max contract that will eventually pay him over $28 million in annual salary. He has never made an All-Star Game. Marvin Bagley III hasn’t averaged a double-double once. Eventually, somebody has to step up.

San Antonio Spurs: Can The Veterans Lead One More Run?

LaMarcus Aldridge is 35 years old and is coming off shoulder surgery. The Spurs’ other top player in 31-year old Demar Derozan averaged 22.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists last season. Patty Mills and Rudy Gay are 32 and 34 years old respectively. The Spurs are old and not as talented compared to year’s past. With Gregg Popovich at 71 years old, the common theme is the Spurs need to find the youth. That’s probably not going to happen this year, so can these seasoned vets help “Pop” get back to the playoffs?

Toronto Raptors: Will The Defense Hold Up Again?

The Raptors were a fierce defensive squad last season. The team was the No. 1 ranked defense in points allowed per game (106.5), three-point percentage allowed (33.7%), and second in field goal percentage allowed (42.8%). The team lost Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol to free agency. When Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green left, many thought the Raptors would regress, but Nick Nurse found a way to coach this team to top shape. With two more solid players leaving again, can Nurse find a way to keep this defensive unit fighting? We’re about to find out.

Utah Jazz: Can The Defense Cause Turnovers?

The Jazz ranked dead last in steals per game last season (6.1). Teams committed just 11.8 turnovers per game when they played the Jazz, which was second to the Mavericks (11.4). The offense does well in the half-court. There is no denying that. With guys like Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have options. However, wouldn’t it be nice to have a few points scored in transition? If the Jazz wants to stop being a middle-tiered offensive team, then the defense has to get more involved.

Washington Wizards: Does The Defense Exist?

Adding Russell Westbrook will help the defense to an extent based on how hard he plays overall. As a team, the Wizards play no defense. The team ranked second-worst in points allowed per game (119.1) and were just 0.6 points away from being ranked dead last. Among other alarming stats, teams shot 48.1% from the field, and 37.6% from the three-point range. With just Bradley Beal alone, the Wizards ranked No. 7 overall in points per game (114.4). The reason the Wizards won just 25 games? That was because the defense could not stop anybody.