NBA hot topics: Will LeBron James win his fifth MVP? Are the Suns for real?

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Just before the season, NBA Rookies predict their stats and give their pick for Rookie of the Year.
USA TODAY

The start of the NBA season has provided some intriguing story lines. The Phoenix Suns are relevant. LeBron James is an MVP candidate again. The Miami Heat look like one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

Portland is a surprise at 3-4, Sacramento and Orlando at 2-6 and Brooklyn at 3-4 are disappointments, the Los Angeles Clippers look mortal after their season-opening win against the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State is in for a long grind as the Warriors figure out who will be part of the roster next season.

Some things are the same. The New York Knicks still aren’t good.

In our NBA hot topics this week, USA TODAY Sports NBA reporters Jeff Zillgitt and Mark Medina and Suns beat writer Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic tackle three questions:

Are the Phoenix Suns for real, as in a playoff contender?

Rankin: Wait-and-see situation. Where will they be after Deandre Ayton’s 25-game suspension [for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy]? They’re 4-2 without him, but plenty can change in the next month or so. Then how will Ayton blend in when…

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