Eight players primed for bounceback seasons in 2021-22 | NBA.com India

With training camp just a few weeks away, players are ramping up their preparations for the new campaign.

Playoff disappointments and injuries are in the rearview with the NBA season on the horizon and these eight players are primed for bounceback campaigns in 2021-22.

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Whether he will be on the 76ers roster on opening night is still up in the air as the trade rumours and reports of Simmons’ unhappiness in Philly continue to swirl.

Calling it a bounceback year is debatable, considering he earned his third straight All-Star selection and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting, however, the lasting image of his season is the lacklustre performance in their second-round exit against the Atlanta Hawks, where he shot 3.2 percent from the free throw line and attempted just three field goals in the fourth quarters of a seven-game series.

Regardless, Simmons is still one of the brightest talents in the league and will enter the new season with a point to prove, be it for the 76ers or a new team.

Kemba Walker, New York Knicks

If you thought the Garden was rocking last season, Kemba Walker’s addition to the New York Knicks offers a fairytale homecoming for the Bronx native that has fans in a frenzy.

Walker struggled to find his rhythm last season for the Celtics after missing the start of the season with a knee injury and never quite looked like his explosive self, appearing in 43 of the 72 regular season games.

His 19.3 points per game were his lowest scoring output since the 2014-15 season, but with a full off-season under his belt, the 31-year-old finds himself in the perfect situation in New York, immediately giving them a huge upgrade as their starting point guard with a young team that is coming off their first taste of playoff basketball.

He might not be ‘Cardiac Kemba’ at this point in his career, but Walker still has plenty of good basketball left in him.

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

The 2020-21 season was a tough one for Siakam, with the Raptors based in Tampa due to the pandemic, where they missed the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

Siakam missed 16 games and lost 10-15 pounds after contracting COVID-19, struggling to re-capture his pre-pandemic form, with his 3-point shooting dropping to 29 percent.

He’ll miss the early part of the new season after undergoing successful shoulder surgery and with Kyle Lowry now in Miami, Siakam is poised for a bounceback season both as their primary option and locker room voice.

Kelly Oubre Jr., Charlotte Hornets

Oubre’s fit with the Golden Stae Warriors never really took hold and his struggles shooting the ball were well documented, especially early in the season. After shooting a career-high 35.2 percent from three the season prior in Phoenix, Oubre connected on 31.6 percent of his triples last season.

Signing a two-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets, Oubre looks to have found the perfect fit with his elite slashing and athletic ability meshing well with the young, hi-tempo Hornets led by LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges.

Whether he starts or comes off the bench in Charlotte, Oubre will play a big role for the Hornets, who are looking to break into the playoffs after narrowly missing out last season.

Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks

On paper Porzingis put up a solid line last season of 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game on 37.6 percent from three-point range, but he struggled to make his presence felt once the postseason arrived, averaging just 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in their first-round series loss to the LA Clippers.

After arriving in Dallas, Porzingis was billed as the perfect partner to complement Luka Doncic, but so far the pair have yet to have sustained stretches of success, with Porzingis often relegated to a catch-and-shoot option.

With new head coach Jason Kidd taking over this season, a fresh voice in the locker room could be just what Porzingis needs to re-discover his form that saw him become an All-Star in New York.

After two straight first-round exits, the Mavs have big playoff aspirations, but they’ll need Porzingis firing on all cylinders to get there.

Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Horford didn’t appear in the Thunder’s final 28 regular season games after a mutual agreement between the veteran and the front offce as the team shifted focus to developing their young talent.

Now back in Boston, the 35-year-old adds some much needed veteran experience and will provide some defence and playmaking alongside bigs Enes Kanter and Robert Williams.

Since leaving Boston, his stints in Philadelphia and Oklahoma City have been underwhelming, but back in the familiar surrounds of the TD Garden, Horford should still have plenty to offer the Celtics,

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

After his dominant 2019-20 campaign which saw the Lakers crowned NBA champions, Davis struggled last season with injuries limiting him to a career-low 36 regular-season appearances.

His 21.8 points per game were the lowest since 2013-14 – his second season in the NBA – while he put up career lows in rebounding (7.9), blocks (1.6) and field-goal percentage (49.1), while connecting on just 26 percent from beyond the arc.

The Lakers made a string of moves in the off-season and are among the favourites to win the title and with Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo on board, he has two perfect pick-and-roll partners, along with LeBron James to make his life easier on the offensive end.

The additions of Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan, along with Marc Gasol mean Davis will be able to play at his preferred position of power forward and as they look to return to the top of the Western Conference, expect a bounceback season from Davis.

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