2021-22 Kia Season Preview
'Who He Play For' study guide for 2021-22 season
A new season is upon us, which means Charles Barkley's attempt at figuring out offseason changes is coming soon. Catch up on familiar faces in new places.
From NBA.com Staff
Plenty of players familiar to NBA fans changed teams in the offseason, meaning it may take a little while to get used to seeing them in their new digs. And no one needs more help with this every year than Charles Barkley. Below are some of the familiar faces in new places for the 2021-22 season, which officially tips off on Oct. 19.
How he got here: Dennis Schröder signed a one-year deal with Boston as a free agent.
What he did in 2020-21: While Schröder averages dropped in his lone season with the Lakers to 15.4 points per game, while shooting 44% from the field and 34% from deep in 2020-21, he joins a Boston team that needed another option at the point guard spot after Kemba Walker’s departure.
A look ahead to 2021-22: It’s still unclear who will be running the point guard position in Boston this season, but Schröder has demonstrated his ability to produce and brings a new level of speed and explosiveness to the Celtics.
What they did in 2020-21: In his 11th NBA season, DeRozan averaged a new career high in assists (6.9 apg) and scored 20 or more points in 40 of 61 games played for the San Antonio Spurs in 2020-21. Meanwhile, Ball is coming off his best season yet, where he also saw career highs in points (14.6 ppg) and field-goal percentage (41.4%) while averaging 5.7 assists.
A look ahead to 2021-22: The Bulls look forward to seeing their stellar offseason moves, which also included adding young talent such as Derrick Jones Jr. and Alex Caruso, pay off heading into 2021-22. After missing the playoffs for four straight seasons, Chicago is confident that DeRozan and Ball — alongside star Zach LaVine and veteran scorer Nikola Vucevic — can turn things around.
How he got here: Markkanen landed in Cleveland via a sign-and-trade with Chicago as part of a three-team deal with Portland.
What he did in 2020-21: Markkanen averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 51 games for the Bulls last season, his fourth with the club. He also showed some improvement from long range, shooting 40.2% from 3-point range, the best percentage of his career.
A look ahead to 2021-22: The addition of Markkanen can hopefully improve the Cavs’ struggling offense, which finished last season ranked 28th in offensive rating, 28th in 3-point attempts and 29th in 3-pointers made. As the team continues to rebuild, they will look at Markkanen’s ability to play multiple positions and stretch the floor in 2021-22.
How he got here: Eric Bledsoe returns to L.A. for his second stint with the Clippers via a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies.
What he did in 2020-21: Bledsoe spent last season with New Orleans, averaging 12.2 ppg and 3.4 rpg while attempting more 3-pointers (5.0) than his previous 11 seasons.
A look ahead to 2021-22: The Clippers bring Bledsoe back after drafting him 18th overall in 2010. Bledsoe has 11 years of NBA experience and can add to LA’s mix of young and veteran players. The team needs the use of effective role players like Bledsoe if they want to continue their championship pursuit, especially since Kawhi Leonard’s return is still unknown as he recovers from a partially torn ACL in his right knee.
How they got here: Russell Westbrook arrived via trade from Wizards, while Carmelo Anthony signed as a free agent.
What they did in 2020-21: In Westbrook’s lone season in Washington, the triple-double king was in full form, averaging 22.2 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds in 65 games. As for Carmelo, he helped Portland secure its eighth consecutive playoff berth in his second season with the team, thanks to his improved 3-point shooting (40.9%).
A look ahead to 2021-22: The addition of Westbrook gives the Lakers their new ‘Big 3’ alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. “My job is to make sure I uplift ‘Bron, AD, make sure those guys are competing at the highest level and making sure I make my teammates around me better,” Westbrook said at Lakers media day. Additionally, this will be the first time we’ll get to see LeBron and Carmelo team up, a longtime wish since they entered the league in the 2003 draft.
How he got here: Kyle Lowry arrived via a sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Goran Dragić and Precious Achiuwa
What he did in 2020-21: Lowry appeared and started in 46 games for the Raptors where he saw averages of 17.2 ppg, 7.2 apg and 5.4 rpg. Lowry currently ranks fifth in total assists (5720) among active players.
A look ahead to 2021-22: Miami hopes Lowry’s veteran experience and championship pedigree can help the Heat re-emerge as a true contender in the East. That will depend on his on-court relationship with good friend and star forward Jimmy Butler, who recently signed a four-year, $184 million contract extension with the team. After nine seasons and an NBA title with Toronto, Lowry brings skillset and leadership to the starting point guard spot.
What he did in 2020-21: Knee injuries limited Walker to 43 games in 2021 in his second season in Boston. In those games, Walker saw averages of 19.3 ppg, 4.9 apg and 4.0 rpg, and also shot his best percentage from the free-throw line (89.9%).
A look ahead to 2021-22: New York is ready for Walker, who is a native of the Bronx, to take over the starting point guard spot. Walker will be the primary facilitator with an expectation to produce numbers like those from his Charlotte days. But the Knicks will need him to stay healthy and find a rhythm with teammate and reigning Most Improved Player Julius Randle, who won the award last year after an impressive 2020-21 season.
How he got here: Andre Drummond arrived in Philly via free agency on a one-year deal.
What they did in 2020-21: Drummond spent the first half of last season in Cleveland where he averaged 17.5 ppg, 13.5 rpg and 1.2 bpg. He had more field goal attempts (15.2) in 25 games with the Cavs than ever before over the course of his nine NBA seasons. The two-time All-Star was then acquired by the Lakers after a buyout, and saw averages of 11.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg and 1.0 bpg in 21 games.
A look ahead to 2021-22: Philadelphia pursued the veteran center to give their superstar Joel Embiid additional frontline help. An elite rebounder, Drummond will have to adjust to his new backup roll but can bring a ton of energy off the bench.