The first full month of the NBA season is right around the corner!
We've had a small sample size of what the 2019-20 season has in store through two weeks of action in October, but November brings a ton of key storylines, head-to-head matchups, tough stretches for marquee teams, superstars returning to play former teams, milestones to be achieved and much more.
Here are 10 key storylines to follow throughout the month of November!
The student and the master
We don't have to wait long for one of the month's most intriguing matchups: Luka Doncic and LeBron James go head-to-head on Friday, Nov. 1, when the Dallas Mavericks host the Los Angeles Lakers. I'm not going to go as far as saying that Doncic is the next LeBron, but people have made the comparison before and Doncic has made it pretty clear that LeBron is his favourite player. Plus, LeBron is still very much one of the best players in the league while Doncic is on the path to becoming one of the best players in the league. Doncic struggled in his two matchups with LeBron last season, so you best believe he'll be motivated to prove himself in this one.
- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)
Damian Lillard takes on the Warriors
Whether it's because he's from Oakland or he takes the matchup with Stephen Curry personally, it's pretty clear that Lillard gets up for playing the Warriors. In 24 career games against Golden State, Lillard is averaging 27.0 points per contest. That's his highest scoring average against any team in the league. He's already scored 40 or more points on four occasions against the Warriors in his NBA career, including a 51-point explosion in the 2015-16 season.
On Nov. 4, Lillard and the Blazers will play the first of four games against the Warriors this season. Based on how most of the other games have gone, you can expect Lillard to show up.
Superstars return to old stomping grounds
The predominant theme of the offseason was stars switching teams. So naturally, all of those stars who changed allegiances via trade or free agency will be returning to their old stomping grounds at some point and many of them take place in November. Six of the biggest ones are on the November slate with Kemba Walker returning to Charlotte (Nov. 8), Kristaps Porzingis returning to New York (Nov. 15), Mike Conley returning to Memphis (Nov. 16), Jimmy Butler returning to Philadelphia (Nov. 24), Anthony Davis returning to New Orleans (Nov. 28) and Kyrie Irving returning to Boston (Nov. 28).
- Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694)
MORE: When do superstars return to play their former teams?
Jokic vs. Embiid
Who's the best centre in the NBA? All-NBA centres Nikola Jokic (First Team) and Joel Embiid (Second Team) each certainly have a strong case for that title. On Nov. 8, the two stars will face off for the first of two times in the regular season when the Sixers travel to the Mile High City to take on the Nuggets.
The two matched up just once in the 2018-19 season and while Philadelphia earned a 117-110 win, Jokic (27 PTS, 10 REB, 10 AST, 3 STL) did more than hold his own against Embiid (15 PTS, 4-17 FG, 12 REB, 4 BLK) in the meeting.
These are also two teams that could find themselves contending for a title this season as well, and a game like this is the perfect opportunity to make a big early-season statement.
- Gil McGregor (@GMcGregor21)
MORE: Who are the best centres in the NBA?
Clippers finally at full strength
Though nothing has been officially announced, Paul George will presumably return at some point in November to make his high anticipated debut for the Clippers. If the early returns are any indication, George's return could spell doom for the rest of the league as the Clippers opened their season with resounding victories over the Lakers and Warriors. There's a case to be made that even without George the Clippers might be the best team in the NBA. Now they add a player squarely in his prime that's coming off a career year in which he finished third in MVP voting, third in Defensive Player of the Year voting and second in scoring. November promises to bring into clear view just how dangerous the Clippers can be at full strength.
- Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13)
MORE: Are Leonard and George the next Jordan and Pippen defensively?
King James joins elite company
LeBron James entered the 2019-20 NBA season having scored 20 or more points in 993 career games. The 17-year veteran followed up an uncharacteristic 18-point performance on opening night with 32 points in a Lakers win over the Jazz.
Now, James is within striking distance of his 1,000th game of 20 or more points, placing him in very elite company.
At some point in November, when James scores 20 or more for the 1000th time, he will join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,122) and Karl Malone (1,134) as the only players in league history to have done so over 1,000 times.
Later on this season, James stands to join Abdul-Jabbar and Malone in the top three of the league's all-time scoring list as well.
Learning about the Houston Rockets
All offseason the talk surrounding the Houston Rockets was "how will James Harden and Russell Westbrook play together?"
After a brief four-game stint in October with only one game being against a team that qualified for the playoffs last season, the Rockets and their duo will be put to the test in November. Houston plays 15 games this upcoming month - half of those games will be against playoff teams from a season ago with three other contests coming against teams that are expected to make a playoff push this season.
They start the month with a tough test in Brooklyn against Kyrie Irving and the Nets. They face off against Jimmy Butler and a feisty Miami Heat team twice. We'll see Harden and Westbrook go toe-to-toe with one of the best backcourts in the NBA in Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers. (They'll also take on the Warriors, but Stephen Curry is almost certainly going to miss that game after breaking his left hand).
They have a home-and-home against the Western Conference favourite-LA Clippers and with those games falling on the 13th and 22nd of the month, they should have Paul George back in the lineup.
Other tough tests include home games versus the Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks and a challenging road game against the Denver Nuggets.
If the Rockets can make it out of November with a top record in the West, this team will look promising as a true title contender.
- Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)
The Vince Carter Farewell Tour
Vinsanity has been touring NBA arenas for over two decades and his farewell tour will make final stops in seven different cities in November. Fans in Los Angeles, Portland, Denver, Detroit, Phoenix, Indiana and Houston will get their last chance to catch Carter in person as the Atlanta Hawks come to town. A truly iconic legend fully deserving of the standing ovations and tributes sure to come his way, Carter is the first player in NBA history to play in 22 different seasons.
Kawhi vs Giannis
It's hard to ever single out one game, but the November 6 tilt between Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo in Los Angeles is a "clear the rest of the calendar" matchup. When they met in last year's Eastern Conference Finals, not only was a trip to the NBA Finals at stake but also the unofficial title of "best player in the league." Leonard ultimately got the best of the Greek Freak as he took on the burden of guarding him on one end and carrying the offense on the other. Whoever comes out on top in this one likely takes early pole position in the MVP race.
MORE: The 14 players who could win the league's MVP this season
The day before and after Thanksgiving
There are no NBA games on Thursday, November 28th - otherwise known as America's Thanksgiving. That means that the days before and after that date are loaded with NBA action.
There are 14 games on each day- for 28 games total - and 29 teams are represented among those 28 games. The only team that is not playing over those two days are the Denver Nuggets.
You'll be able to catch the following teams in action twice:
• Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards
And these teams once:
• Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings
These two days are heaven for an NBA junkie.