With the NBA’s media day under way, training camps opening up this weekend and the first preseason games less than a week away, we’ve officially entered basketball season. While training camp itself isn’t exactly something you can watch — teams aren’t just out here broadcasting their practices — there will be plenty of storylines to follow as the entire league prepares for the new campaign.
Here’s a look at when training camp begins for your favorite team, as well as some of the top stories to pay attention to over the next few weeks.
Saturday, Sept. 22
The Mavericks and 76ers are heading over to China during the preseason as part of the NBA Global Games, which will include two games against each other. Because of their travels, these two teams already held their media day on Friday, and will open training camp a few days earlier than other squads.
Monday, Sept. 23
- Media day for all other 28 teams
The rest of the league will hold their annual media day on Monday. As always, this gives the media its first chance to talk to the squad after a long summer off, and also gives fans a look at rookies and any new additions. For a full media day schedule, as well as how to stream the event for each team,.
Tuesday, Sept. 24
- Training camp begins for all other 28 teams
Following media day on Monday, the rest of the league will hit the court on Tuesday for their first official practices and scrimmages.
Friday, Sept. 28
- First preseason games
The NBA preseason schedule will get under way on Friday when the Philadelphia 76ers welcome Australian side Melbourne United to the States. Additionally, the Boston Celtics will take on the Charlotte Hornets.
Top storylines entering training camp
- The Jimmy Butler saga
What happens with Jimmy Butler is by far the biggest story heading into training camp. Not only because the news of his trade request just broke in the past few days, but because of the impact it will have around the league. Despite Tom Thibodeau’s reluctance, it seems Wolves owner Glen Taylor make sure Butler gets traded.
Where will he be dealt? What will the Timberwolves get in return? Will the team he’s traded to be one he wants to re-sign with in the offseason? The answer to these questions could impact the playoff race in both conferences as well as the free agency market next summer. This is a big, big deal.
- New faces, new places
This is a storyline every preseason, but rarely does it include LeBron James. “The King” made his way out West to join the Lakers, and it will be fascinating to see how big of an impact he can have on the young team.
Of course, there’s also the Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan trade. Will Leonard be healthy and return to his old form with the Raptors? Or did they make a big mistake? And what about DeRozan? He wasn’t pleased with the deal, and could be motivated to take his game to another level with the Spurs.
Then there’s the latest addition to the Warriors‘ dynasty: DeMarcus Cousins. He’s still rehabbing from a torn Achilles tendon, so we won’t see him on the floor for a while, but once he does return, there won’t be many things more interesting to watch than how he fits with the Dubs.
And those are just the biggest names. There’s also all of the Rockets‘ moves to pay attention to, especially their acquisition of Carmelo Anthony; Isaiah Thomas‘ redemption tour with the Nuggets will be one to watch; Jabari Parker’s homecoming to the Bulls is interesting as well.
- Injury returns
This is another common theme at the beginning of each season, and it’s once again a big story heading into the 2018-19 campaign. The most notable return is clearly Gordon Hayward, who missed almost all of last season after suffering a gruesome leg injury just a few minutes into opening night. And not only is he returning from a nasty broken ankle that everyone saw happen live on national TV, but Hayward will be key to the Celtics’ title chances this season.
Along with Hayward, there’s another Celtic making a return from surgery: Kyrie Irving. The dynamic point guard said recently that he has no limitations in his knee, which is good news for the Celtics, who clearly missed him on the offensive end in the playoffs last season.
Kawhi Leonard’s return from his mysterious quad injury Cousins’ comeback from an Achilles tear have already been mentioned, but are worth noting again, because of their impact on the league. If Leonard gets back to MVP level, the Raptors have a great shot at winning the Eastern Conference. As for Cousins, if he looks even somewhat like himself and can find his place in the Warriors’ lineup, they should have even less trouble winning a third straight title.
Another return that might be flying under the radar but figures to have a big impact is Andre Roberson. The defensive stalwart was a huge part of the Thunder’s plans, and they really missed him down the stretch and in the playoffs last season after he ruptured his patellar tendon.
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