The 77th season of the North American basketball professional league NBA begins on Wednesday night (1.30 a.m. and 4.00 a.m.).
Finalist Boston Celtics first receives co-favorite Philadelphia 76ers, then champions Golden State Warriors play against the Los Angeles Lakers led by LeBron James - Germany's national team captain Dennis Schröder, who is back with the Lakers, missed the start due to a thumb injury. The German Press Agency answers the most important questions about the start of the season.
Who is favorite for the championship?
That's a difficult question to answer this season. Champion Golden State is considered a favorite by bookmakers, but not nearly as clearly as in previous years. The NBA is more open than it has been for a long time. The Milwaukee Bucks around Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Brooklyn Nets around Kevin Durant and last year's finalist Boston with a strong collective are also among the closest circle of title contenders. In the West, in addition to the Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers and main round winners Phoenix Suns are also highly traded.
How good is the defending champion from San Francisco?
Steph Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Daymond Green - all the key players on the road to last season's title are still with the Golden State Warriors. A punch from Green against Poole during a training session in preparation shook up the team and the environment quite a bit. Coach Steve Kerr spoke of the biggest crisis of his tenure. Officially, everything has been cleared up and Green has been fined. It remains to be seen whether all the waves have actually been smoothed out behind the scenes.
Who are the big stars?
Greece's Antetokounmpo, Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and last year's MVP (Most Valuable Player) Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets are currently considered the big stars of the league. All three were active at the European Championships in September, but in contrast to the hosts from Germany, who were decorated with bronze, remained without a medal. The three veterans Durant, James and Warriors playmaker Curry are still among the figureheads of the league.
What role do the German NBA professionals play?
No player from Germany is as important for his team as Franz Wagner is for the Orlando Magic - and that in only his second NBA season. The strong EM and bronze with Germany have improved his reputation. Isaiah Hartenstein with the New York Knicks and Maxi Kleber with the Dallas Mavericks, who, along with the Würzburg team, are among the teams that are believed to be capable of the title, are also going into the season as regular players. Daniel Theis probably has no real prospects with the Indiana Pacers, the team is in transition, relies on young players and would like to hand over one of the most expensive professionals in the squad to another team.
Moritz Wagner missed the leap into the Magic squad due to an ankle injury and has to work his way back up. National team captain Dennis Schröder also misses the start of the season due to an injury, but is still in the Los Angeles Lakers squad and wants to improve his reputation on his second attempt for the NBA record champions, just like he did for the German team and the German fans had succeeded.
Is LeBron James Still Playing?
Yes, the four-time NBA champion is entering his 19th season. It is doubtful whether the Lakers will be enough for the big hit again after 2020. The 37-year-old has slacked off a bit in the recent past. James could still make his mark in the NBA history books this season. With 37,062 points, he has already taken second place in the all-time ranking. The leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) is still 1325 points short. If James can play 70 games, 19 points per game would be enough to take the lead - even without a playoff. Last season he had scored 30.3 points per game.