There’s never been a better time to be an NBA fan. While the NFL is being shaken to its core by CTE scandals and tweets from the President, the NBA is on the clear path to being America’s number one sport. At this point, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. The NBA has created a year-round spectacle where the offseason is every bit as exciting as the playoffs. Whether you’re a die-hard yourself or the father of some budding fans, here’s everything you should know about the 2017 NBA season.
The Bandwagons You Should Consider Hopping On
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Western Conference is loaded but if one team is going to surprise people and make a run, it’s gonna be Minnesota. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jimmy Butler make a dangerous trio that could go toe-to-toe with any other team in the league.
Milwaukee Bucks: Somebody has to meet the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, so why not Giannis Antetokounmpo aka the Greek Freak, and the scrappy Bucks? They’re a young team with a lot of talent, which could mean the perfect dark horse candidate.
Toronto Raptors: This team is going to keep winning 50 games every year and everyone is going to keep forgetting they exist.
Question to Consider: Could Gregg Popovich Be Our Next President?
At this point, why not? Pop has the brilliance and dedication of Bill Belichick without his tendency to be a huge jackass and strange affinity for sleeveless hoodies. Plus the Spurs coach also has made some very public statements about the fact that he thinks Trump is a racist moron. If he decides he doesn’t want to coach without Duncan, he could dip his toe in the political arena and see what happens. I mean, can you imagine a debate between Trump and Pop?
Bar Bet To Make With Your Friends
Over/Under: The number of times Skip Bayless will force a LeBron James reference on that First Take rip-off he does now: 7 times per show.
Talking Point: The Warriors Are Way Too Much Fun To Hate
On paper, everything about the Warriors screams villain. Their best player is a shameless ring-chaser who trolls people on his fake Twitter account. They constantly complain about unfair treatment even though they’re the most coddled team in the NBA. They have the league’s biggest trash talker and ball-puncher. And worst of all, they win
And yet, we don’t hate them. In fact, they’re one of the most beloved teams in the NBA. Why? Because despite all of these factors, the Warriors are just too damn fun to hate. Watching Steph Curry and Klay Thompson effortlessly drain three-pointer after three-pointer is a thing of beauty, even when it’s happening against your favorite team. Seeing Kevin Durant nail a contested jumper is basketball at its best. And despite some of their less-than-charming quirks, they’re also a lovable bunch of guys. So until they truly pull a full heel-turn, they’ll keep being the more likable version of the Patriots.
Best Player Who Still Hasn’t Won a Ring: Chris Paul
Paul is widely considered the best pure point guard of this millennium yet he hasn’t even gotten to the Conference Finals in his prolific career. Now, he’s left behind LA and teamed up with James Harden to try and finally get his ring as a Houston Rocket. With a history of injuries and coming up on his 33rd birthday next year, Paul might only have a few shots left.
Three Underrated Candidates for Your Kid’s Favorite Player
Mike Conley: The Grizzlies point guard is the best player in the NBA nobody seems to know. Last season, he averaged over 20 points a game and he still has never been chosen for an All-Star game. Nobody deserves a new fan more than this guy.
Eric Bledsoe: The biggest reason Bledsoe is not as well known as he should be is that he’s spent his career on a terrible Phoenix Suns team. But that didn’t keep him from averaging 21.1 points and 6.3 assists per game last season. Hop on his bandwagon before he gets shipped off to a good team.
Brad Beal: John Wall gets all the attention in Washington but Beal has played just as big a part in making the Wizards a regular playoff team. Last year, he had his career best in points and assists. Plus, he’s only 24 so your kid has a player to follow for at least another decade.
The Feuds You Need to Follow:
LeBron vs. Kyrie: After losing to the Warriors in five games, proud flat-earther Kyrie Irving decided to ditch the Cavaliers and head to the Celtics, spurning King James in the process. The two behaved themselves during their first matchup but it’s only a matter of time before this blows up. You won’t want to miss that.
Durant vs. Westbrook: KD claims that he wants to put this beef behind him but he’s too petty not to want to rub his new shiny ring right is Russ’ face. Meanwhile, Russ refuses to address the feud but is a master of passive-aggressive signals. With a newly loaded Thunder, these games are guaranteed to bring drama.
Shaq vs. JaVale McGee: Shaquille O’Neal hasn’t been in the league in seven years but that hasn’t stopped him from attacking players for no reason. Mainly, McGee, who Shaq affectionately refers to as a “bum” or “bumass.” Hopefully, he has a new bum-related insult ready for this year.
America meet Javale “BUM” McGee pic.twitter.com/ENw4VLE5I7
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) February 24, 2017
The Player Most Likely to Drop a Mixtape/Diss Track: Rajon Rondo
Rondo is no stranger to NBA beef and it’s time for him to take his attitude to the next level by dropping a mixtape where he takes shots at all his former teammates and rivals. We’re talking Ray Allen, Jimmy Butler, and Dwyane Wade. All the hits. Will it be good? Hell no, but analyzing the lyrics to try and find veiled references to players will become the Internet’s new favorite hobby.
Biggest Free Agents After This Season
Kevin Durant: The reigning Finals MVP will be able to test out the market after the season but all signs point to him staying with the Warriors. Then again, most people assumed he was staying in Oklahoma City last summer.
LeBron James: The best player in the world could stay in Cleveland and finish up his career as the ultimate hometown hero or he could head off to LA to try to build one last superteam.
Paul George: Chances are playing with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony might cause his production to dip a bit but playing a key role for what looks to be one of the best teams in the league will line him up nicely for a big payday.
Russell Westbrook: Last season, Westbrook averaged a triple-double and won MVP and now he has PG and Carmelo as teammates. No matter what happens, this guy is going to get a massive contract.
The Old Guys Who Deserve Your Appreciation
Vince Carter, 40: Arguably the greatest slam dunk artist of all time, Carter is heading into his 20th season in the league with eight ppg last season for the Grizzlies. He might not have much left in the tank but Carter remains a threat any time he’s on the court.
Dirk Nowitzki, 39: How this guy continues to be so good so late in his career is anyone’s guess. The Mavericks are still a threat to make the playoffs every year solely because of him. God knows what Mark Cuban will do once Nowitzki retires.
Manu Ginobili, 40: People have been speculating about Ginobili’s retirement for the last five or so seasons but he keeps coming back for more. His minutes and points are down quite a bit but he still finds a way to be a valuable contributor for the Spurs.
Who You Need to Be Following on Twitter ASAP
— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) October 14, 2017
Embiid is what all athletes should aspire to be on Twitter. He’s open, weird, funny, and not afraid to get into some online trash talk.
We hit the lottery by not signing you https://t.co/eSiBaNT061
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) January 28, 2017
This is one of the greatest Twitter roasts ever, courtesy of the Trailblazers shooting guard.
Twitter is better than goin to da club…
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) May 9, 2010
Durant was already an extremely entertaining character but he reached must-follow territory when it was revealed he was talking trash with critics from a fake fan account.
Best New Bromance: Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns
Butler is lowkey one of the coolest and smartest guys in the league and Towns has never had a teammate this good before. Together, they will be a force to be reckoned with on the court and a solid example of male friendship off it.
Worst Players Who Have a Real Shot at Winning a Ring
Joffrey Lauvergne, Spurs: The Spurs have been one of the best teams in the league for almost two decades and are always a contender for a championship. That includes Lauvergne, a player who averaged 4.5 points a game last season.
Bobby Brown, Rockets: Brown is a 33-year-old point guard who spent his last six seasons playing overseas and yet he has a real shot at winning a ring thanks to Harden, Paul, and the rest of Houston’s offense.
Jose Calderon, Cavaliers: He’s an injury prone 37-year-old who averaged less than four points a game the last two seasons and he gets to play basketball with LeBron James.
A Humble Plea: Stop Doubting That LeBron is a Good Guy
A resounding yes. You are more than welcome to hate LeBron as a player. You might think he’s an overrated bum or complain about the preferential treatment he gets from the league. He is occasionally too petty and clearly holds a grudge but you cannot deny that LeBron is a stand up guy. He’s by all accounts a fantastic dad as well as a proud activist and a pretty good actor. In addition, his foundation has donated more $40 million dollars to help underprivileged kids go to college. Even the Decision, which was largely seen as a classless move, helped raise $2.5 million for the Boys & Girls Club of America. Hate him all you want but in his heart of hearts, King James is the ruler we need.
Three LaVar Ball Storylines That Will Probably Happen By the End of the Season
- LaVar tries to become the Lakers head coach. He’s never been good at respecting his son’s coaches, so why would he start now? The minute the Lakers lose two straight games, LaVar will begin campaigning for himself to be their next coach.
- Big Ballerism becomes an official religion. LaVar is determined to do everything in his power to establish the Big Baller Brand. They have merch, sneakers, and even a TV show. So it’s only logical that he enters the biggest branding opportunity of all: religion. He, of course, will be its god, with parables of LaVar beating Michael Jordan one-on-one celebrating his unequivocal greatness.
- LaVar mulls presidential run. This sounds ridiculous but eight years ago the idea of the President being a reality show host sounded pretty ridiculous too. LaVar decides that his winning mentality is exactly what America needs and takes the first steps for becoming a candidate in 2020.
The Players That Should Be On The All-NBA Trash Talk Team
Draymond Green: The undisputed current champion of shit talking in the NBA, Green takes great pleasure in getting in the heads of his opponents. It doesn’t matter who it is, Green will do all he can to affect an opponent’s game. Sometimes using more than just his mouth.
Chris Paul: He may seem like the sweet guy in those insurance commercials but players have insisted that Paul is secretly one of the best trash talkers in the game. He might talk smack less than the other guys on this roster, but when he does, everybody hopes he’s not targeting them.
Joel Embiid: Not exactly a surprise given his prowess for talking a big game online, Embiid is just as happy to get into the face of someone he doesn’t like on the court. Just ask fellow All NBA Trash Talker Hassan Whiteside.
Joakim Noah: Noah’s days as a valuable basketball player might be behind him but he still is in his prime when it comes to finding creative ways to insult the other team’s players.
Hassan Whiteside: Whiteside is an extremely talented player. He’s also a pretty emotional guy, sometimes causing him to come at his opponents pretty hard. For that intensity, he earns a spot on the roster.
Big Question: Is Another Warriors-Cavs Finals Inevitable?
Probably. Unless there is a major injury for either team, it just doesn’t seem possible to take either of these behemoths down. The Eastern Conference is way too thin to pose any sort of threat to LeBron and the Warriors simply have too much talent for anyone to take them down. Anything is possible but these two teams not meeting in the Finals for the fourth straight year would require an act of God.
Five Teams That are Destined for a Lottery Pick in 2018
Chicago Bulls: The loss of Jimmy Buckets takes this team from an Eastern contender to a team at least three years away from fighting for the eighth seed.
Atlanta Hawks: This is what a team that is shamelessly in rebuild mode looks like. Some young talent but not nearly enough to compete with other teams.
New York Knicks: Phil Jackson has managed to completely destroy this team in only three years. Even with Porzingas, this team is going to struggle to win many games.