[Dae-Beom Son Column] The 2023-2024 NBA is about to start! Issues you need to check out

The 2023-2024 NBA season will tip off on October 25th. This season has been unpredictable, with a lot of big-name transfers, new events, and changes to player rest rules. Adding to the unpredictability is the fact that the trade of James Harden (Philadelphia 76ers) and Damian Lillard (Portland Blazers), which has been hotly debated all summer, is still unresolved as of September 20. You never know when a trade is going to happen, and it may seem like old news. Such are the limitations of a monthly magazine. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of issues to keep an eye on.

This article was originally published in the October issue of Jump Ball.

Game-changing transfers
The Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns are two teams that will be getting a lot of attention after the season opens. Golden State removed Jordan Poole from the roster, who went from super-hype to bust. Poole’s on- and off-court behavior after the Draymond Green punch led to a change of uniforms. Joining Steph Curry and Klay Thompson next season will be Chris Paul, the man who wants to win. Born in May 1985, Paul is a Hall of Fame superstar in the making. It will be interesting to see if he can add a championship to his resume. The chemistry between Curry and Paul is something to look forward to, but the key is injuries. Paul has been plagued by injuries in the playoffs almost every season. The durability of Curry, Thompson, and Green isn’t what it used to be.

Kevin Durant and Devin Booker have found their best partner in Bradley Beal. Beal is a quality scorer who has consistently averaged over 22 points per game over the past seven seasons since his debut in 2012. With Durant, Booker, and Beal together, it’s hard to know who to worry about on defense. However, durability is a concern, as they haven’t played more than 60 games since the 2018-2019 season. Phoenix has made some bold investments since owner Matt Isibia took over the team. But with the three stars alone costing well over $100 million in salary, the team needs to perform this season to justify the investment. On the other hand, there were a number of players this summer who chose to make their “first move” – or were forced to do so. Fred VanVleet to the Houston Rockets and Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies. Neither is a league-changer, but both are expected to improve the competitiveness of their teams. They’ll also add some much-needed leadership to a relatively young team. Kristaps Porzingis and Jordan Poole form a trio with Kyle Kuzma on the Washington Wizards. The combination of these three young and unique players gives Washington a little more firepower.

Rise of the Rookies
Last season, the San Antonio Spurs ranked 25th in attendance with an average of 16,937 fans. On the road, they were even worse. The Spurs’ away attendance was 17,293, 26th in the league. But the new season will be different. That’s because No. 1 prospect Victor Wambanyama will be making his debut. The 6-foot-9 Wembanyama was rated as a big man with good mobility and outside shooting coming out of the French league. He struggled a bit in NBA Summer League, but since July, he has kept his media exposure to a minimum and focused on training. It will be interesting to see what he can do as he adjusts to the NBA under the tutelage of legendary coach Gregg Popovich. Fans have shown how excited they are with their cash. Tickets for the new season in San Antonio are already selling like hotcakes, and marketing is going strong, including the arena naming rights sponsorship ($9 million per year). Of course, unlike past rookies like Tim Duncan, he may not be able to help the team rebound right away.

But the development of a super-prospect who’s just coming of age will be fun to watch in the new season. Along with Wembanyama, the debut of Chet Holmgren (Oklahoma City Thunder) is also highly anticipated locally. The former No. 2 overall pick lost a season to injury, but showed in Summer League that he’s ready to make his NBA debut. Oklahoma City still has plenty of quality young stars, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddy. Holmgren joins that ranks, which should make the Western Conference race more interesting in the new season. Other rookies to keep an eye on include the “twin rookies” Amen Thompson (Houston Rockets, 4th) and Arthur Thompson (Detroit Pistons, 5th), who became the first NBA players to be drafted side-by-side in the top five, and G-League energizer bunny Scooter Henderson (Portland Blazers, 3rd).

LeBron James’ waiting list
The biggest story in the NBA for the 2022-2023 season was LeBron James’ quest to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. A record that had been considered “immortal” since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s achievement, LeBron has now surpassed it, and every point he makes on the court is history. But he’s not stopping there, he’s going for 40,000 career points. At the end of the 2022-2023 season, he had 38,652 points. He needs just 1348 more points to reach the coveted 40,000 mark.

In 55 games last season, he averaged 28.9 points per game, totaling 1590 points. The field doesn’t expect him to put up similar numbers in the 2023-2024 season. However, he hasn’t averaged less than 25 points since the 2004-2005 season, his second year in the league, so 60 games of 23 or 24 points is not out of the question. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook (LA Clippers) needs just two more triple-doubles to become the first player in the NBA to reach 200. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) needs just three more triple-doubles to join Westbrook as the second most prolific active player. He currently has 105 triple-doubles, with only LeBron James and Jason Kidd (107 each) to catch.

How will the new rules, new format affect us?
There are three things to note. First, there will be an in-season tournament earlier in the season. The in-season tournament, which begins on November 4 and concludes on December 10 with the finals in Las Vegas, is new for all 30 teams and will have a big impact on how the league feels early in the season. There was some concern that teams might take it easy in the tournament, but it’s unlikely that any of the “big boys” will tank early in the season. There were also concerns that teams would intentionally rest star players for low-value games, which brings us to the second issue. Commissioner Adam Silver held a press conference at the start of September to announce the rules for resting NBA players. The rule is that no team can have more than two star players out for a nationally televised game or a game that draws national attention, such as an in-season tournament. Silver defined a “star” as “a player who has been named to an All-Star or All-NBA team in each of the last three seasons,” which totaled 49 players. This means that any team with two “stars” cannot rest them at the same time. Currently, there are 15 teams with two “stars,” so for example, Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum cannot rest at the same time on nationally televised games. The NBA has made it clear that even if a player takes a day off for “road management,” they must be on the court unless they are injured or have limited mobility.

Finally, there’s the flopping ban. Starting in the new season, referees can call a technical foul on a player for flopping. The opposing team will be awarded one free throw. You don’t have to blow the whistle immediately. Even in the NBA Summer League, referees would blow the whistle for a free throw when the situation had cleared up, rather than immediately stopping play. Players who have been frowned upon for habitual flopping can now be embarrassed by this technical foul. In the NBA Summer League, spectators booed players caught flopping, and the NBA Coaches Challenge allows teams to apply for one more challenge if they are successful. This could come in handy in the playoffs.

Who are the favorites and dark horses for the new season?
With the Lillard and Harden trades still pending, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. However, the favorites to win the title at this point are the Denver Nuggets, who have few leaks, the Boston Celtics, who have made the extraordinary move of changing their head coach, and the Phoenix Suns, who have built a “BIG 3”. The Philadelphia 76ers will still be a force to be reckoned with, regardless of whether or not they are. Thanks to reigning MVP Joel Embiid. The Los Angeles Lakers, who made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, made a lot of additions over the summer, but no matter who they bring in, the key will be the health of LeBron and Anthony Davis. Of course, if they’re sick, they won’t be able to accomplish anything. In the West, the Sacramento Kings are the team that could upset the established powers. They went 48-34 last season (3rd in the West) and made the playoffs for the first time since the Mike Bibby era. The players knew how to win. With De’Aaron Parks handling the clutch duties, Keegan Murray stepped up his game during the offseason. Not to mention the presence of Domantas Sabonis.스포츠토토

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