The three most significant role changes in the NBA this season

After a long summer, the preseason commences ahead of the 2022–23 NBA season. It is a given that no team returns after the offseason exactly the same, with free agency and the draft changing the landscapes of teams on a yearly basis. With the ever-changing nature of the NBA, players are expected to adjust on the fly. At any given moment, your team could do something that changes your role drastically in a snap of a finger, for good or bad.

Some end up playing bigger roles on smaller teams. Some stars suddenly have to share the spotlight. Others have to work with bitter foes. This upcoming season holds some role changes that may or may not heavily affect their teams’ state of contention and individual careers.

Russell Westbrook’s future with the Lakers is still in question.

The Los Angeles Lakers are never out of the spotlight. Whether they are an NBA title contender or not, the legendary franchise always finds its way into basketball conversations. They are phenomenal to watch when they play well, but when they don’t—it is something worthy of a reality show. After suffering through the worst season in his 14-year career, the Russell Westbrook experiment quickly became a cause of panic in Los Angeles.

Expectations were high after the Lakers formed their big three with Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James. But their championship aspirations were quickly derailed as Davis’ injuries hindered his availability and Westbrook experienced one of the biggest declines in a single season. The Lakers finished as the 11th seed in the West and failed to qualify for the play-in tournament. A lot of fingers were pointed towards Westbrook, and he has been clouded with question marks since.

In shocking fashion, the Lakers finalized a trade to acquire Patrick Beverley, who has been a thorn in Westbrook’s side for the greater part of his career. Speculation immediately erupted about whether or not the two could coexist and if this was the Lakers’ foreshadowing of Westbrook’s departure. While it appears that the two have squashed their beef, the Lakers then signed Dennis Schröder from Houston, giving them three point guards.

Aside from being a big irritant on the defensive end, Beverly can run the floor and make a decent number of shots. He is a true asset to his team and a pain for any opposition. On the other hand, Schröder is also a reliable floor general who can get you 15 points any evening. He is also a former Laker who already has chemistry with some of the players.

As for the former MVP and Mr. Triple-double, uncertainty is and will be present for Westbrook for a while. Whether he becomes a rotation piece and comes off the bench for the Lakers, or gets traded and becomes a small-market superstar once more, he has to play well to get the weight off his shoulders.

Big expectations in the Big Apple.

During his time in Dallas, Jalen Brunson played second-in-command while Luka Donic did most of the ball-handling. Brunson showed his ability to play well off the ball, especially during the Mavericks’ run to the 2022 Western Conference Finals before losing to the eventual champions, Golden State. So far in his career, Brunson has played 277 games and started only 127 of them. But after a rollercoaster of an offseason, Brunson was acquired by the Knicks and is expected to be their primary and starting ball handler this season.

After capping off his best season so far, the expectations are high in New York for Brunson, as they are for any good player who joins the Knicks. From consistently reaching the playoffs and playing alongside one of the sport’s brightest stars in Dallas, to be the shining new piece in a struggling franchise in New York, Brunson now holds more responsibility as he hopes to help change the losing culture in the Big Apple.

John Wall joins NBA championship contenders in LA.

For the better part of his career, John Wall has been the frontman of every franchise he’s played for. In Washington, he was Batman, and Bradley Beal was Robin. Over the past two seasons, Wall has been limited by the injuries he carried from his last season as a Wizard to his short stint with the Rockets. But, now that he’s healthy and ready to go, Wall is starting a new chapter with the Los Angeles Clippers.

It is common knowledge that Kawhi Leonard is the centerpiece and Paul George is the right-hand man for the Clips. How does this work for John Wall? Well, aside from joining a genuine contender, Wall does not have to carry the lion’s share of the weight on his team for the first time since his early years in DC.

Without having to break his back, Wall’s likelihood of winning a title has increased given the cast that he joins with the Clippers. While we still expect him to get buckets, Wall is no longer the primary scoring option.

His ability to score and run the floor will be key to the Clippers’ offense, and his defensive prowess makes him an even better addition to a squad that is easily the biggest threat to the Warriors if healthy.