It’s #BasketballSZN. For the most predictable league in pro sports, there are an awful lot of things us basketball nerds are excited for, so I’ll list my top three things to look for this year:
The ever-evolving big man: It seems tall guys are becoming more and more versatile as time goes on. You don’t see a lot of Shaq-type players out here anymore. In this age of pace-and-space offense, quickness and ability to react is everything while the post-up game has been taking more of a backseat. That’s why there are so much hype over guys like Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks, and Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota. These guys can do everything. They’re both over 7′; can shoot from distance; Post-up; can put the ball on the floor and drive; and are agile enough to defend multiple positions. Here’s a clip of KAT doing something that completely defies his size:
Same Stars, New Teams: This offseason had a lot of surprise signings. Dwyane Wade left Miami for Chicago after Pat Reilly decided that he was too expensive, Kevin Durant to Golden State, and Derrick Rose to the Knicks. Wade and Rose are the most intriguing of the three. Wade because…. well, he’s not playing in Miami which is weird enough already. But it’s also how he’ll mold with a team with an already ball-dominant shooting guard and moody point guard, and if his knees can stay healthy for another year. Rose because of his injury history and how much of a trainwreck the Knicks are as a franchise. I think they have a really solid group and can go places as long as team president and Zenmaster Phil Jackson doesn’t force his ancient triangle system on the team and they stay healthy. Carmelo has had various injuries in his tenure in NY, Rose has had multiple major knee surgeries, and Joakim Noah has always seemed to be hurt in some odd way when with Chicago.
Number 1…. Golden State. Duh: The two players who took the last three league MVP awards are on the same team now. A team that won 73 regular season games last year. So many things had to go wrong for this to go right. Expectations are through the roof for their offense. But after their blowout loss last night, it looks like defense could be a problem. Last season, Golden State were the second most efficient defense in the NBA because of their frenetic switching defense. This year they had to sacrifice some depth on their bench to acquire Durant and while it might not seem like much on paper, they lost a lot of speed and just some super-smart defenders. On the other hand, sometimes defense could just not matter: