Last season was an unusual one for the NBA. For the first time since 2011, a team that didn't have either LeBron James, Stephen Curry or Kawhi Leonard on it won an NBA title. Milwaukee took advantage of injuries to either the stars themselves or their teams to power through and beat Phoenix. What's going to happen this season? Here are some story lines to watch.
1. Where will Ben Simmons end up?
The NBA offseason is carrying over into the season with Simmons back at practice in Philadelphia. Where will Simmons end up in a trade, or will there improbably be some way he sticks around with the 76ers despite an acrimonious end to last season?
2. Kyrie and the vaccine
Because of a New York law that restricts people who are unvaccinated being in public gyms, Kyrie Irving can't currently play in home games in Brooklyn. The Nets announced Irving will be away from the team as long as he's ineligible to play at home, meaning he also won't join them for road games. The Nets can win a title without Irving — they were dominant at times last postseason when just two of their big three of Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden were on the floor — but their margin for error is smaller without Irving.
3. Rule changes
The NBA has pledged to not call defensive fouls in favor of shooters who go out of their way to launch themselves into a defender in order to try to draw contact along the perimeter. Will the league stick with this rule change, which should come as a relief to people who think it's an unnatural way to get to the free-throw line?
4. Old Lakers
The Lakers have nine players 30 or older on their roster and reloaded this year with Russell Westbrook joining James and Anthony Davis. Will this age catch up to them or does it provide just enough experience and depth to allow the Lakers to overtake some of their younger rivals like Denver, Utah and Phoenix in the West?
5. Phoenix, Atlanta have something to prove
The Suns and Hawks were two of the surprise teams last season, with the Hawks advancing to the Eastern Conference finals and the Suns winning the West when nobody expected them to do that. Can they build off their success last year or were they just flashes in the pan?
6. The NBA's generational shift
With Nikola Jokic winning MVP and Giannis Antetokounmpo getting his ring, the NBA hardware is shifting away from the James-Curry generation of the league to those in their mid 20s. Will this trend continue or will the old guard recapture its place?