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Giannis Antetokounmpo has started superbly this season
  1. NBA

NBA - US Sports: What to look out for in the opening week?

The new NBA season is still a couple of months away, but with the schedule out it feels closer than ever.

While the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics can just pick up where they left off, many of the others aren't quite so lucky.

Teams are gearing up for training camps and rosters are starting to look settled, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions which will linger heading into the new season.

Most of those questions will only get settled when the action starts, so here's our look at the big talking points for the opening week of the regular season. 

Who will show up for the Nets?

Kevin Durant has agreed to stay in Brooklyn after two months of angling for a move, but it's still not clear how the Nets will shape up. Kyrie Irving has gone back and forth between staying and leaving all summer, while Ben Simmons hasn't played for the Nets since joining in February.

The Nets have made solid moves around their role. They've added Royce O'Neale and TJ Warren this offseason, who are solid role players. They could really compliment Durant, Irving and Simmons if those three finally get on the court together.

The Nets look to have more depth now than last season when they started as favourites. Brooklyn are fifth in the betting at 8/1 to win the Championship. Their title hopes will be tested early on, facing the New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies to start their campaign.

Are the Suns still contenders?

The Phoenix Suns finished last season with the league's best record, while they went into the playoffs as the clear favourites. However, their Game 7 blowout against the Dallas Mavericks changed the perception of the whole organisation.

After a quiet summer which saw them reluctantly hand Deandre Ayton a max contract, the Suns have done little to address their issues. While they've retained the core which was unmatchable in the regular season last term, they have slipped to 17/2 sixth favourites for the title.

The Suns open this campaign against the Mavs in a rematch of that Western Conference semi-final, before heading to Portland and the LA Clippers. Those three tests should show if they can contend for the title again.

Are the Clippers back to their best?

The LA Clippers couldn't get by the Play-in last season, but they're 7/2 to win the Western Conference this season. They welcome back two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, while they added John Wall after his departure from the Houston Rockets.

If those two return to action at their best, then expect the Clippers to excel under talented manager Ty Lue. The issue for them is that Kawhi has had long-term injury issues and Wall last played an NBA game in April 2021, so he's going to need time to get up to speed.

However, with clashes with the LA Lakers and Suns in the first week, the Clippers need to get back to their best quickly.

How does Gobert fit in Minnesota?

The Minnesota Timberwolves gambled their future on adding Rudy Gobert to this side. They're locked in around a core of him, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards for the foreseeable future, making them one of the most interesting sides to watch early this season.

The Timberwolves have prioritised size for their line-up this year, as they're set to start with two big men in Towns and Gobert. After boasting a good defensive record last season, adding a three-time Defensive Player of the Year makes them a scary prospect.

Of course, there's always a risk with such huge trades, which makes Minnesota one to watch early on. They start the season with two meetings against the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first three games, while they also face Gobert's former side in the Utah Jazz.

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What is the Bulls ceiling?

The Chicago Bulls were the surprise package early last season, but their good start faded as they slipped down to sixth. Their season ended with a whimper against the Milwaukee Bucks, while this summer hasn't brought massive changes.

Zach LaVine was handed a huge new deal and it seems the Bulls are going all-in with this side, but they are still 50/1 to win the Eastern Conference. They showed last season that they aren't among the East's elite, while there's little room for them to improve.

The Bulls face early tests against the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, which will show where the Bulls stand with this roster.

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