2021 NBA Preview – Lakers, Nets lead the way in a shortened year

The Lakers and Nets sport two of the most talented rosters in the NBA.

Courtesy of Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images

The Lakers and Nets sport two of the most talented rosters in the NBA.

Zaida Bowsher, Sports Writer

December 22 marked the beginning of the 75th annual NBA season. Over the past few months, the league has gone back and forth over whether to play or not, eventually settling on a slightly altered schedule, where each team will play 10 less games than normal. Despite the differences the 2020-2021 NBA season presents, basketball viewers are already beginning to cast their predictions for the championship.

In spite of the precarious circumstances of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers were crowned the 2020 NBA champions after defeating the Miami Heat in six games. In the past few months, however, the team roster has seen some major changes, including the introduction of new players such as Dennis Schröder, Wesley Matthews, and Marc Gasol, and the losses of veterans Danny Green, Dwight Howard, and Rajon Rondo. 

Richard Montgomery junior and varsity guard and forward Jack Kouncar has been following the changes taking place on the Lakers’ roster. “I don’t like that Dwight left. I feel like he was great because, you know, there aren’t a lot of dudes like Dwight.” 

Despite the loss of Howard, Kouncar is happy with many of the Lakers’ roster changes. “They added a bunch of veterans,” Kouncar said, referring to players such as Wesley Matthew and Marc Gasol, who have played in the league since 2009 and 2008 respectively. “Veterans are always going to help… I think the Lakers definitely improved their line up.”

More recently, the NBA saw one of the biggest trades in league history, involving Rockets superstar and former MVP James Harden and three other teams. The trade sent Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, where he’ll be paired up with superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, forming one of the league’s most talented offenses.

The Nets gave up a rising star Caris Lavert to the Indiana Pacers and a versatile big man Jarrett Allen to the Cleveland Cavaliers, while also giving the Rockets three first-round picks and four pick swaps. The Pacers also shipped All-Star Victor Oladipo to the Rockets, though he is unlikely to stay in Houston for the long term. The Nets are in win-now mode and are in position to challenge for the NBA title. 

According to the Kia Season Preview, the Lakers are the favorite to win the 2021 Championship. Of the general managers surveyed in the 19th annual NBA.com GM survey, 81 percent agreed the Lakers were likely to repeat. Other teams considered worth watching by the managers include the L.A. Clippers and the Miami Heat. 

Another topic of interest in the Kia Season Preview is the 2020-2021 season Most Valuable Player award. The survey showed a much tighter competition, with several players receiving similar odds amongst the general managers. Top players in the survey are Milwaukee’s power forward and last year’s MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo with 33 percent considering him most likely to win, Dallas’s Luka Doncic with 21 percent, and L.A. Lakers’s Anthony Davis and Lebron James tied with 18 percent. Nearly a month into the season, however, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid appears to be in the lead for the prestigious award. 

MVP is not the only reason to be watching the players during the 2020-2021 NBA season, and Kouncar is keeping a particularly close eye on some of the new players. “I want you to watch a dude named LaMelo Ball,” Kouncar added. “You look at [the Charlotte Hornets’] record, 6-5 as we speak, that is a great improvement. This dude l is clearly a game changer.” 

Although the 2020-2021 NBA season is sure to look different than those in years past, basketball fans can continue to look forward to the excitement professional basketball brings. Between the ongoing competition for a spot in the championships, the MVP race, and a league filled with young talents, this season is sure to be one to watch.