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NBA season preview: Golden State Warriors bid for back-to-back titles and LeBron James eyes scoring record as new year tips off | CNN



CNN
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The Golden State Warriors are eying a second consecutive NBA title – and the franchise’s fifth since 2015 – as the season tips off on Tuesday, bidding to cement its era-defining legacy with yet more success.

The reigning champions face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in their opening game at Chase Center in San Francisco and will look to leave behind a fractious preseason in which tempers flared up within the team.

Footage was shared of forward Draymond Green punching teammate Jordan Poole during a practice session earlier this month, an incident that the veteran has since apologized for.

Green, who has enjoyed a trophy-laden eight years with the Warriors, was fined but not suspended after the altercation, with head coach Steve Kerr calling it the “biggest crisis that we’ve had since I’ve been the coach here.”

Despite the incident, Poole led scoring for the Dubs with 25 points in their 124-121 preseason loss to the Lakers, the first game since the run-in.

The 23-year-old point guard also recently signed a new four-year deal with the franchise, worth up to $140 million.

“He’s someone we’re going to rely on for many years to come and that’s exciting,” Kerr told reporters earlier this week.

“We’ve got a lot of good young players, but Jordan is by far the most advanced.”

The Warriors will hope the new generation of talent will keep blending with the old guard, including Green and superstar Steph Curry, to form a formidable force this season.

The Warriors will face a tough test from the Lakers in their opening game, with LeBron James on a mission to break the league’s all-time scoring record.

James is currently 1,326 points away from passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s mark set in 1989, but the 37-year-old is forecasted to overtake the legendary center’s tally in the 49th game of the season – based on him averaging around 27 points per game.

“It’s a huge thing, I believe,” James told The Los Angeles Times. “I think it’s one of the most sought-after records in sports.

“And me personally, I’ve never even set a goal of doing it. It makes zero sense to me. But it’s something that’s bigger and bigger than people think.”

LeBron James could break the all-time scoring record this season.

James impressed last season, averaging 30.3 points per game, but he and the team failed to make the playoffs.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham says the team is hungry to redeem itself after last year’s disappointment.

“My motivation is built in to turn this thing around and have a very much more improved year as opposed to what happened last year,” he told reporters.

“So, kudos to the Warriors, last year’s champs, but this year is an all new season and we’re hungry. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder as well.”

Elsewhere, the Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics are all teams fancied to be in the running for Larry O’Brien trophy but if one things for certain, the NBA is anything but predictable.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the second time in a row last season and will be bidding to secure a three-peat this time around.

The Serbian – who was the 41st pick of the 2014 draft – pipped Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo to the award but both will looking for revenge.

Only three players – Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird – have ever completed the three-peat, so history beckons for Jokic.

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic will also be in the running, having been among the favorites for the accolade in recent seasons.

Perhaps a future MVP candidate, Victor Wembanyama could also have a big impact this season on the league. The 18-year-old made waves this year after he traveled from France to play an exhibition series in the US.

His frightening combination of height and gracefulness on the court have attracted the attention of multiple NBA scouts and many predict the youngster to be the top pick in next year’s draft.

Expect to see a lot of tanking from teams looking to acquire Victor Wembanyama's services next year.

The seven-foot-four teenager has been called an “alien” and a “generational talent” by James and teams might be tanking unlike any other year in order to get better odds at drafting the phenom next season.

Expect to see a lot of hashtags and calls from fans on social media for their favorite teams to join the tankathon for the French wunderkind. Let the games begin!

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