The 2020-21 NBA season is just a few games underway and already, the spotlight is shining on a few players for different reasons. Down in Orlando, a few names became bigger and the spotlight on them will shine brighter this season. Players such as Jamal Murray, Luka Doncic, and Ja Morant made a name for themselves in Orlando. What will they do for an encore?
The 2020-21 NBA season should be a good one. With names already being mentioned in trade talks, it would be interesting to see how all this plays out for some of the best in the league. Can a player such as Trae Young lead the young Atlanta Hawks to the playoffs? What about the microscope that Ben Simmons is playing under in Philadelphia? And how can we forget about keeping a watchful eye regarding the chemistry between Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn?
Here are 4 players to keep an eye on this season.
Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
The Phoenix Suns came into the 2020-21 season as one of the teams to watch. Although they didn’t make the playoffs on Orlando, the Suns still put the league on notice with an 8-0 record. The main reason for that success was the play of SG Devin Booker.
Booker upped his stock by averaging 27.8 points per game compared to the 23.4 he averaged before the suspension in play. Booker is leading the new change in Phoenix. But with that success, comes the extra eyes. What everyone will be looking for is an encore.
Was it a fluke or did we just watch one for the future NBA superstars just take that major step into stardom? With Chris Paul now by his side and the steady improvements by players such as Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, the Suns are expected to make a push with Booker leading the way.
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ben Simmons can be a dominant player but he has to decide if that’s what he wants. Three years in the NBA and fans are still waiting for that player to arrive. Simmons has taken heat throughout his career because it appears he doesn’t want that weight on his shoulders. His lack of growth from the perimeter is his biggest knock.
After another disappointing season, the 76ers went searching for ways to improve. Moves were made that kept Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philly and this season, he must leave it all on the court.
Last season, Simmons averaged 18.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8.9 assists. Great stats but it’s the things he’s not able to do or not willing to do that will follow him around his career. If Simmons cannot elevate the 76ers to at least the Conference Finals, there’s a chance he will not be a member of the team next season.
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Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
The Atlanta Hawks watched as Trae Young set the league on fire last season with averages of 29.6 points and 9.3 assists. The main issue was that the Hawks just could not find themselves in the win column enough times for a playoff run. But after watching Jamal Murray, Luka Doncic, and Ja Morant handle their business in Orlando, Young has the motivation he needs to reach that Allen Iverson level many are comparing him with this season.
Young is explosive and determined. He’s already crowned a king in ATL. Now he just needs to get the Hawks to the second season (playoffs). But one has to wonder if another losing season will force his hand? Will he want to stay in Atlanta and build or will he look to escape to another franchise?
Caris LeVert (Brooklyn Nets)
The Brooklyn Nets are expected to be the front runners in the Eastern Conference this season with the return of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. While Durant and Irving are the true stars here, the consensus is that the Nets are in search of a third start. Well, that player is already on their roster. Caris LeVert has proven, when healthy that he is that player.
Last season, Caris, without Durant and Irving averaged 18.7 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.2 rebounds on a depleted team that he helped guide to the playoffs. Now, can he sit back and let the other two veterans play the main role and be content with that? LeVert has tremendous upside and now with the injury to Spencer Dinwiddie, more will be asked of him this year.