By Emily Croft, Staff Writer
Since the NBA Board of Governors has officially voted to start the 2021 NBA season on Dec. 22, all eyes are on the NBA draft and free agents.
The draft is set to take place on Nov. 18 with the top pick being LaMelo Ball. The 6-foot-7 point guard has been in the spotlight since he was in high school, typically known for being a part of the three Ball brothers.
Ball has already played for two major teams, the Los Angeles Ballers in the Junior Basketball Association and Illawarra Hawks in the Australian National Basketball League.
Ball excels in handling and dishing the ball in tight plays, but many have been skeptical of his projected performance since he has recently turned 19 and could continue to grow.
The overall second pick is projected to be Anthony Edwards, a former Georgia Bulldog who shines at shooting guard.
Also at the age of 19, Edwards stands at 6-foot-3 and is unrivaled when he gets in the paint. He is known for his strong and quick first step when he has the ball and is confident in his shooting abilities.
Between Edwards and Ball, the Minnesota Timberwolves will have a tough time choosing who to take with the first pick in the draft.
Whoever they decide to pass up on will quickly be taken by the Golden State Warriors, who could use some better players.
The Warriors are going to either have a strong upcoming season or continue to be in a drudge.
While the Warriors still have star athletes like Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, they lost their momentum last season when the superteam lost key players Kevin Durant to free agency and Klay Thompson to a torn ACL.
The rollercoaster of having the best record in the 2018-19 season to barely winning in the 2019-20 season put their fans through an emotional state of chaos but having a top pick in the upcoming draft could be their Hail Mary.
Adding a key player like Ball or Edwards would tighten their lineup or give them a good player to use in a trading deal.
Not being in the playoffs gave Thompson and Curry a chance to fully recover in their health, so it wouldn’t be surprising to watch the Warriors rise back to the top of the totem pole.
Last but not least, it would be wrong to forget about the pending free agents for the upcoming season.
It’s possible but unlikely that Lebron James could move to free agency if he doesn’t pick up a $41 million player option, an opportunity to stay another season with his Los Angeles Lakers.
Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, both players for the Los Angeles Clippers, have player options ranging near $36 or $37 million. While it’s unlikely they’ll opt out, the option is there.
Gordon Hayward could be the prize of the free agent class if he opts out of his contract with the Boston Celtics, but the Celtics are more likely to trade him than let him walk for nothing. A rumored destination has been the Indiana Pacers for Hayward, as the Pacers could give the Celtics a player like Victor Oladipo.
Whether these top players become free agents or not, the upcoming draft amd free agemcy will surely mix up the overall 2021 season predictions. As with every NBA offseason, there are bound to be trades and unpredicted moves that shock NBA fans.