NBA 2019-20: Three training camp storylines to follow

Sporting News

NBA training camp is underway and teams are building rotations and determining strategies as the regular season approaches.

There are already interesting things developing in early-October that basketball fans should take note, and we've identified a few for you.

Three training camp storylines you need to follow:

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The Lakers' lineup experiments

How LeBron James combines with Anthony Davis will be the most interesting thing about Los Angeles in 2019-20.

The Lakers are already experimenting with James at point guard at camp like they said they would in July, but he isn't defining himself as one.

"It doesn't matter to me," James said Friday when asked about his potential position change. "I do whatever it takes for us to win. So it doesn't matter. I'm a ballplayer. I'm not a point guard, I'm not a shooting guard, a small forward, power forward or a center. I'm just a ballplayer. You put me on the floor, and I can make things happen with whoever is on the floor. So, I'm just looking forward to getting out there with my teammates because it's exciting. It's fun."

Let's be honest here. James has been a point guard for the better part of the last decade. He's averaged at least 6.0 assists per game for 14 straight seasons and only Kyrie Irving's dazzling dribbling has been able to move the king to off-ball duties consistently.

There may not be a secondary ball-handler alongside James in the Lakers' starting lineup, as he'll likely partner with Danny Green or Avery Bradley in the backcourt while Rajon Rondo runs the second unit.

Los Angeles has also utilized Davis at center despite his dislike of the position. But his versatility should make opposing bigs uncomfortable by drawing them out from under the basket.

The upcoming season will be about creating mismatches for the Lakers, and they appear to be moving away from the positionless game where nearly every player was expected the ball.

Early reports suggest they have a ways to go.

How the Jazz's offseason acquisitions gel

Utah is gaining traction as a sleeper pick to come out of the Western Conference, as it sneakily made some of the league's best offseason moves.

The Jazz parted with Ricky Rubio but added Mike Conley to pair with rising star Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt this summer. Conley's veteran leadership, poise, and consistent production have been a constant topic of discussion since he was acquired, but the Jazz also got one of the NBA's more underrated shooters in Bojan Bogdanovic.

Bogdanovic, who has shot better than 40 percent from behind the arc in each of the last two seasons and averaged a career-high 18.0 points per game last year, has impressed his new teammates early on.

“For me...if I could shoot like that, I’d be shooting every time,” Jazz guard Dante Exum said of Bogdanovic's shooting on Thursday, via Deseret News.

Mitchell added: “He doesn’t miss."

Mitchell's reputation as an impact perimeter defender is growing and Utah also has Rudy Gobert, who's arguably the NBA's best rim protector.

Whether the Jazz's new pieces can help them ascend to the next level remains to be seen, but they've certainly gotten better on paper.

The Nuggets' battle at small forward

Denver shocked the world when it finished second in the Western Conference last year, and it could be in a position to snatch the top seed this year.

The Nuggets are loaded with developing, young talent and added to their pool by getting Bol Bol this summer. But their most important position might be at the small forward spot.

Denver's Will Barton missed nearly half of last year battling injuries and Torrey Craig was able to make himself useful in his absence. Meanwhile, Michael Porter Jr. is looming in the background waiting for his opportunity to show what he's capable of.

Porter was considered a lock to be the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft before a back injury derailed his lone college season at Missouri. He went on to miss all of 2018-19 and has dealt with knee problems ahead of 2019-20.

When 6-10 Porter is healthy, he's an elite perimeter scorer that can handle the ball and has star potential.

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He has a significantly higher ceiling than the players he's competing with, but he has to remain consistently available and establish a rhythm.

“He’s going to do some things this year that make my hair and beard get a little grayer, but that’s part of it,” Denver coach Mike Malone said of Porter earlier this week, via The Athletic. “He’s a talented, talented young player, and I’m going to help him become the best player he can be.”

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