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10 Things to Watch for (Already) in the 2015-16 NBA Season

Less than one month into free agency, here are 10 things to watch for in the 2015-16 NBA season.

Jessica Camerato profile picture
Updated 10 months ago on
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It is less than one month into free agency and the NBA landscape has already taken shape for the upcoming season. With trades, signings and draft picks making major waves here are 10 things to already watch for once the season is underway.

Will the Warriors defend their title?
The Golden State Warriors got out to a streaking start last season and never looked back. After winning the NBA championship, there will be a glaring target on their backs from teams around the league. Add in the Western Conference squads ramping up their rosters (especially the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge to the San Antonio Spurs) and the pressure will be on the Warriors to defend their title.

Who will be the bust/sleeper of the 2015 NBA Draft?
Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor dominated the discussions leading up to this year’s NBA Draft. Will one of them reign as Rookie of the Year, or will someone else from the class take the award? Keep an eye on Emmanuel Mudiay, who shined at Summer League. On the flipside, each year there are lottery picks that don’t pan out. Which team(s) drafted high but will have received a low return by the end of the season?

How will the season play out in Sacramento?
The situation was rocky before the season ended and got more tumultuous this summer with escalating tension between George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins. How that relationship plays out will be a closely-watched storyline all season. The addition of Rajon Rondo adds another personality to the mix, as the veteran point guard will be playing for another contract next season. Will the Kings thrive or struggle in the face of all their issues? Who will finish out the season on the team? The questions are endless in Sacramento.

What will happen to the Lakers?
The Los Angeles Lakers enter next season facing a lot of questions and uncertainties. The team runs through Kobe Bryant, and his impact will set the tone for the success of the season. Add in the first-year transition of D’Angelo Russell to the NBA, as the team will look for the second overall pick to be a key contributor. There is also the return of Julius Randle, who missed virtually his entire rookie season due to injury, and how effective he will be after extensive rehab. Add in the acquisition of veteran center Roy Hibbert, who is looking to bounce back after his production became stagnant in Indiana last season. The Lakers won just 21 games last season — what will their number be this time around?

Who will challenge the Cavaliers in the East?
While the Cleveland Cavaliers are out to defend their conference domination, other teams are bulking up their rosters this offseason to challenge them. The Atlanta Hawks are looking to stay atop the standings in spite of the departure of DeMarre Carroll to the Toronto Raptors. The Chicago Bulls will look to find new energy and a new level of success in their first season under head coach Fred Hoiberg. The Indiana Pacers are gearing up to get back in the playoff mix with a healthy Paul George. With the return of Chris Bosh and addition of Justise Winslow, the Miami HEAT are positioned to move up in the rankings. And don’t forget the Milwaukee Bucks, who inked Greg Monroe to a mega deal this summer.

How good will the Thunder be with a healthy Kevin Durant?
The Oklahoma City Thunder were championship contenders with Kevin Durant. Without him, they missed the playoffs. The power has shifted in the Western Conference since Durant was sidelined, and his return will most likely shake up the rankings. Just how far the trio of Durant, Russell Westbrook (who carried the team in Durant’s absence) and Serge Ibaka can take this injury-stricken squad remains to be determined.

Will Knicks fans regret booing Porzingis?
New York Knicks fans welcomed Kristaps Porzingis to the team by loudly booing him at the NBA Draft. That night he said he would win them over, and already began that process during Summer League. Porzingis, who averaged 10.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, stood out among his competition. All eyes will be on him, and the rookie from Latvia seems ready.

How small will the league go?
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr benched Andrew Bogut and went small in the NBA Finals to counter — and beat — the Cavaliers. The league had already seen an increase in bigs playing away from the basket, and Kerr’s decision proved to be a winning strategy. Notably, two centers were drafted within the first three picks of the NBA Draft later that month. How many teams will build a smaller lineup and which ones will use their size as a strength?

How will Anthony Davis continue to improve in his fourth season?
He’s already dominating and he’s only 22 years old. Last season Davis averaged 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. His numbers have increased each season and the question now is how high can they go? With a new head coach in Alvin Gentry, playoff experience and a blockbuster contract, Davis is poised to be a beast yet again.

Which emojis will describe the Clippers season?
After DeAndre Jordan agreed to sign with the Dallas Mavericks, social media was turned upside down when he changed his mind and decided to remain with the Los Angeles Clippers. This group has yet to make it out of the Western Conference Semifinals. Now that the core is staying together, will the end result be different this season?

Jessica Camerato is a bilingual reporter who has been covering the NBA since 2006. She has also covered MLB, NHL and MLS. A graduate of Quinnipiac University, Jessica is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association and the Association for Women in Sports Media.

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