Kyrie’s vaccine stance, Simmons drama in Philly: Interesting storylines in the NBA 2021-22 season

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(CNN Philippines) — Good news for basketball fans: the NBA is back in a few days.

The NBA 2021-2022 regular season is set to begin on Oct. 20 (Philippine time). It will feature a star-studded double header: defending champions Milwaukee Bucks hosting the loaded Brooklyn Nets, and Golden State Warriors visiting the revamped Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

This is a special milestone for the NBA as it celebrates 75 years of existence.

Records will be broken, familiar faces moving to new places, moments will be immortalized. The NBA promises to have another exciting and memorable year.

Here are some interesting storylines to watch during the new season:

Vaccine struggle in Brooklyn

The Nets have made it clear that Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is deemed eligible to participate by the organization as issues relating to the seven-time All-Star guard's vaccination status continue.

Irving, who has disclosed that he’s still unvaccinated against COVID-19, would not be allowed to suit up in Nets' home games at Barclays Center due to New York City's vaccine mandate that prohibits unvaccinated players from playing in the city. That’s a total of 41 home games plus two road games versus the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Will he be traded to another team? Or will he finally agree to get a COVID-19 shot? His basketball fate rests in his arms.

Trouble in the City of Brotherly Love

In a surprising move, Ben Simmons showed up to the Philadelphia 76ers camp this week.

This development could lead to a resolution of the three-time All-Star's status with the Sixers.

Simmons hasn't had a direct conversation with the Sixers front office since August when he stressed his desire for a trade.

The Sixers sought for trade offers from other teams, but were unsuccessful to find a deal that would get them a star to play alongside All-NBA big man Joel Embiid.

Are fans in Philadelphia willing to open their arms for Simmons?

'Not this year’

One particular rule change that NBA players must adjust to this season is drawing a foul from a shooting motion. Gone were the days when offensive players who initiate contact by leaning forward to their defender would earn free throws.

Basketball fans got to witness the first example of this new interpretation of the rule during a pre-season match between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers. In the first quarter, Warriors superstar Steph Curry caught his defender in the air with a pump fake then proceeded to initiate contact by lunging forward. This sequence, which would have likely been free throws last season, resulted in a no-call.

All eyes will be on players like Curry, Nets’ James Harden, Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic, and Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young as they are the ones who capitalized from this in previous years.

As long as the referees are consistent with their calls, the players will eventually get the hang of it.

New-look Bulls to paint the town red

It’s hard to check the Chicago Bulls lineup and not get excited about their squad.

High-flying guard Zach Lavine will be leading the pack with new recruits Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, and Lonzo Ball.

Sophomore Patrick Williams and third-year man Coby White are also ready to give the Bulls some youthful legs.

After years of disappointing campaign, it’s about time for the Bulls to be relevant again considering they are one of the few teams with multiple NBA championships.

This lineup has the ability to contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The question is, how far can they go?

Fresh batch of talent

This year's rookie class has plenty of promising players, but three names will be closely monitored.

Cade Cunningham only needed one year at Oklahoma State to show why he's worthy of being the top overall pick. Can he lead the Detroit Pistons back to the playoffs with a bunch of young guns?

Meanwhile, Filipino-American Jalen Green took an unconventional path to the NBA. He became the first player to skip college and play instead in the NBA G-League. He had a productive stint in the developmental league, which propelled him to the second overall pick. He should be able to put up plenty of buckets with John Wall, Kevin Porter Jr., and Eric Gordon.

Jalen Suggs is also seen to make an impact in Orlando. With the 6-foot-4 guard in the mix, the Magic hope they made the right decision as they charge forward.

In a league-wide survey among general managers, Green received the most number of votes with 47 percent of the 30 team executives. Cunningham followed with 40 percent, then Suggs with seven percent.