NBA: 7 teams with the most to prove heading into the 2020-21 season

Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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LA Clippers
LA Clippers Paul George and Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Seven NBA teams with the most to prove in 2021

The NBA 2020-21 season is about to begin and with it brings new storylines and questions of how teams will play. Attempting to play a 72-game schedule and the playoffs still in the midst of a global pandemic will bring its own challenges such as player and staff safety and the possibility of welcoming fans back into arenas.

The playoffs provide a proving ground for teams to show their worth and either rise to the occasion or shrink under the pressure. These are the teams with the most to prove during the upcoming season.

LA Clippers

The LA Clippers underachieved last season after losing to the Denver Nuggets in the second round, despite having a 3-1 series lead. This was due in part to the lack of leadership and heart on the roster. Neither Kawhi Leonard nor Paul George played up to their potential and the team didn’t have the supporting cast to make up for their struggles.

The offseason additions of Nicolas Batum, Ky Bowman, Serge Ibaka, and Luke Kennard should help offset the losses of JaMychal Green, Montrezl Harrell, and Landry Shamet. However, the team hasn’t addressed their main need of forming a cohesive unit with sufficient leadership.

Kawhi Leonard achieved championship success with the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors because of their vocal leaders, a culture of accountability, and a team-first philosophy. The Spurs had Tim Duncan and the Raptors have Kyle Lowry, two players that exude leadership and provide their teams with intangibles beyond their box score that lead to winning championships. Leonard could just fit in and play his role without having to worry about leading the team vocally and emotionally.

On the Clippers, there is no Duncan or Lowry to lead the team and Leonard hasn’t proven capable of fulfilling this role. With Paul George recently signing a maximum 5-year extension with the Clippers and Leonard yet to commit to the Clippers beyond this season, questions remain about the future of the franchise. The partnership with Leonard and George will need to lead to more playoff success if the team hopes to keep both players.