NBA season preview 2018-19: Five non-LeBron James storylines to follow

James’ first season with LA will be the dominant storyline in the NBA in 2018-19 but there are multiple other narratives worth following.

Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen dribbles past Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard.   -  USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James’ first season with the Lakers will be the dominant storyline in the NBA in 2018-19.

The 33-year-old superstar left the Cavaliers and signed with Los Angeles this summer. The Lakers then continued to rebuild its roster as it added Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley in the offseason.

But there are multiple other narratives outside of Los Angeles that are worth keeping up with.

How will the Rockets fit together?

Houston Rockets finished last season one win short of the NBA Finals. But the Rockets went through a major roster overhaul in the offseason as it lost forwards Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute to free agency. Houston also traded Ryan Anderson to the Suns for Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight.

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Houston’s biggest addition, however, was bringing in 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony. How will all the new pieces fit together? We’ll find out.

Are the Celtics the real deal?

Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving will return healthy this season, giving Boston one of the deepest rotations in the NBA. On paper, this makes the Boston Celtics the best team in the East and a real threat to unseat the Warriors as NBA champion.

While the conference is wide open, Boston will still have to navigate past the reloaded Raptors and the young 76ers to earn the top spot.

How much will the Raptors improve?

Toronto added more star power and a new coach to a team that won 59 games a season ago.

The Raptors fired coach Dwane Casey in mid-May and replaced him with former assistant Nick Nurse. It then acquired disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard, as well as Danny Green, from the Spurs for a package centered around DeMar DeRozan.

Leonard and point guard Kyle Lowry should be one of the top scoring duos in the league. But how much will the Raptors' offseason moves affect their results? Toronto has tallied 48 or more wins and reached the playoffs in five straight seasons. Yet the franchise is still looking for its first NBA Finals appearance.

Which rookies will make an impact?

The 2018 rookie class is loaded with talent. Top pick DeAndre Ayton, Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Kings forward Marvin Bagley III could become centerpieces of their teams. Multiple other players have the potential to become All-Stars for years to come.

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Some first-year players will undoubtedly struggle while others have a chance to elevate their teams into playoff contention. It’ll be interesting to see who ends up as a star and who turns into a bust.

Will the Nuggets make it back to the playoffs?

The Nuggets missed the playoffs by one game last season. Denver went 46-36 in 2018-19 and finished just behind the Timberwolves for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

The Nuggets hasn’t reached the postseason since 2012-13. But it’ll have a chance to change that this year behind developing star Nikola Jokic and a fully healthy Paul Millsap.