67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season


1. Tom Thibodeau managing his bigs

2. DeMarcus Cousins continuing where he left off

3. Brad Stevens with NBA experience

4. Andrew Wiggins vs. Jabari Parker

5. Victor Oladipo playing shooting guard

6. Return of injured players

7. Warriors’ starting lineup

8. Russell Westbrook being Russell Westbrook

9. Goran Dragic at it again

10. Phil Jackson’s influence

11. Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard

12. Michael Carter-Williams’ development

13. David Blatt’s offense

14. The mysterious and unexpected Bruno Caboclo

15. Kawhi Leonard playing to get paid (even if he’s not)

16. Tyson Chandler back with the Mavericks

17. Jose Calderon setting up Carmelo Anthony offensively

18. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph (one last time?)

19. Pacers testing positions’ defensive importance

20. Paul Millsap and Al Horford, the Eastern Conference’s Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol

21. Kyrie Irving’s bonkers All-Star voting

22. Disappointing second-year players looking for redemption

23. Dwight Howard and James Harden doing it alone

24. Chris Paul, NBA’s most underrated point guard

25. Synergy of the Pelicans’ lineup

26. More Kyle Lowry-Greivis Vasquez lineups

27. Chandler Parsons in the spotlight

28. Erik Spoelstra proving his chops

29. Nerlens Noel’s long-awaited debut

30. Tim Duncan doing it again

31. Wizards’ small forwards

32. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh leading a team without LeBron

33. Emotional swings of Roy Hibbert

34. JaVale McGee doing JaVale McGee things

35. K.J. McDaniels testing the second-round system

36. Isaiah Thomas vs. Sacramento Kings

37. Lance Stephenson on the loose

38. Warriors starters with Draymond Green

39. Byron Scott defying convention

40. Cavaliers’ dramatic turnaround

41. Rajon Rondo playing with (slightly) better teammates

42. Steve Clifford handling more, um, personality

43. Stan Van Gundy developing Andre Drummond

44. Whatever Jason Kidd does

45. Josh Huestis in the D-League

46. Jonas Valanciunas on verge of a breakthrough

47. Damian Lillard getting better and overshadowed again

48. 76ers pissing off everyone. Again.

49. LeBron James back in Cleveland

50. Kobe Bryant out for revenge

51. Klay Thompson proving his worth during NBA games

52. Ricky Rubio playing for a max contract

53. James Young representing Flint

54. Whatever Kevin Durant can do

55. New coaches

56. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in the playoffs

57. Suns’ many point guards

58. Dirk Nowitzki surrounded by weapons

59. Nets finding new identity with Lionel Hollins

60. Derrick Favors vs. Enes Kanter, Trey Burke vs. Dante Exum

61. Timberwolves as Canada’s other team

62. Greg Monroe playing out his daring decision

63. Thunder’s young guns

64. Lakers’ train wreck

65. Charlotte playing as the Hornets again

66. Rookies

67. Anthony Davis becoming a superstar

It’s here!

67RIEFNS No. 67: Anthony Davis becoming a superstar


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Anthony Davis played at Kentucky. He was the No. 1 pick in the draft. He made the All-Star game last season.

But, somehow, I’m still not convinced people understand just how good he can become. I’m not sure they get how good he already is, either.

He’s probably flown under the radar for two reasons – injuries and the Pelicans’ lack of success. And that’s a shame.

In a 10-game stretch last March, after New Orleans had faded from the playoff picture, Davis averaged 29.8 points on 54.5 percent shooting, 13.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.8 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. That’s insane! But Davis got hurt again, and his season ended quietly.

I don’t expect Davis to maintain that type of production this season, but I believe it was indicative of a breakthrough. Lest you think I’m cherry-picking too small of a sample, Davis posted the highest PER of anyone 20 and under – higher than even LeBron James.

All season, Davis was excellent. By the final stages, he crossed into unreal.

Anything close to that that – whether or not the Pelicans make the playoffs in the loaded West – and people will have to acknowledge his greatness.

Eight former MVPs are still in the league. Six – LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan – will be on the wrong side of 30 by New Year’s if they’re not already. Another, Derrick Rose, has played 10 games the last two years. The eighth and reigning MVP, Kevin Durant, is out for a while.

The NBA is ready for a new superstar. It’s Davis.

67RIEFNS No. 64: Lakers’ train wreck


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

The Lakers went 27-55 last season, their worst record since moving to Los Angeles.

This season could go even worse.

The Lakers return a motivated Kobe Bryant, but at his age and with his injury history, I wouldn’t count on him for too much. They sure are, though.

Kobe didn’t bite his tongue while the Lakers were losing last season with him sidelined. I can’t imagine him reacting better while more directly suffering the frustrations of losing.

And the Lakers are going to lose – a lot.

Their coach has a backward stance on 3-point shooting, and while he preaches defense, Byron Scott’s teams haven’t defended all that well lately. After Kobe, Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin and Nick Young are slated to fill major roles. These are not marks of a winning team.

The Lakers will probably miss the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time since 1975 and 1976. I can’t imagine that will go over too well in Los Angeles.

But there’s one big potential bright spot: If the Lakers get a top-five draft pick, they can keep it. Otherwise it goes to the Suns, and an ugly situation gets even worse. The Lakers will be bad, but they’re definitely not locks to keep the pick.

Speaking for non-Lakers fans everywhere, this season should be glorious.

For Lakers fan, keep rooting for Kobe and Co. to prove everyone wrong. You’ll be vindicated – or make the schadenfreude even sweeter.

Opening night preview: Rockets at Lakers


There will be plenty of drama surrounding opening night’s contest between the Lakers and the Rockets, but it probably won’t include the kind created by a close game where we wonder who will win or lose.

While Kobe Bryant’s return after appearing in just six games last season due to injury would be exciting for basketball fans under any circumstances, the fact that it comes at home against Dwight Howard, who bolted L.A. in free agency after one disastrous season, makes it an especially compelling matchup.

By now, you’ve certainly heard about the messy way things ended between Howard and the Lakers, with Bryant essentially sabotaging the team’s free agent pitch meeting to try and help Dwight make his decision to leave that much easier. The two couldn’t have differed any more greatly from a personality standpoint, and the combination of Bryant’s ruthlessness with the opportunity to win by playing with a deeper roster in Houston was worth leaving $30 million on the table to do so in Howard’s eyes.

Beyond seeing how that plays out when the two are on the court, there are a few other things to watch.

The Lakers are expected to have a down season again, thanks to the roster continuing to be in somewhat of a state of flux. The team added pieces to plug holes as a kind of short-term fix until it can once again attract a star free agent or two to come to Los Angeles, two of the more prominent being Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin, both of whom will be in the starting lineup for this one.

But L.A. is missing guys, too. Steve Nash is done for good, thanks to his nerve issue never quite being settled to the point where he could play on anything resembling a consistent basis. Nick Young is out for a bit after suffering torn ligaments in his thumb during practice, and others like Ronnie Price, Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly have been dealing with injuries that should keep them sidelined for most (if not all) of this opening night contest.

The fact that the bulk of those players we just mentioned are so far from being recognizable by the casual fan tells you just how far this Lakers team has fallen.

Things aren’t nearly as bad in Houston, though the Rockets had a lackluster offseason that, at least on paper, undoubtedly left the team worse.

Houston swung for the fences in free agency, attempting to add a third star player next to Howard and James Harden to truly vault the team to a level of legitimate contention. But after striking out with Carmelo Anthony and coming close with Chris Bosh before Miami offered him max money to stay, the Rockets let Chandler Parsons go to the Mavericks for nothing in return, and traded a reliable defensive big man in Omer Asik away to the Pelicans for a future first round pick.

The Rockets tried to add some depth by overpaying for Trevor Ariza (again), and trading for veteran shooter Jason Terry. But that’s about it, and while Harden may not have seen the value in all that Parsons gave the team, the likelihood exists that it will be difficult for Houston to be as good as it was a season ago — when the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

None of that should matter tonight, however, against a Lakers team that will have all kinds of trouble slowing Houston offensively. The Rockets averaged a ridiculous 130.7 points per game in their three wins against L.A. last year, and barring an unexpected, transcendent performance from Bryant, Houston should end up pulling away somewhat convincingly.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Houston Rockets

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: L.A. Lakers

Opening night preview: Magic at Pelicans

Opening night preview: Mavericks at Spurs

Quote of the Day: Dirk Nowitzki says dinners this year are all on Chandler Parsons because …


Dirk Nowitzki was part of the star-studded free agent class this summer, though his name didn’t make headlines because it was widely-known that he wasn’t going anywhere.

As expected all along, Dirk re-upped with Dallas at a discount, choosing a three-year deal for $25 million in order to give the team some salary cap relief so they could add some talent around him.

Much of those dollars went to Chandler Parsons in free agency, who the Mavericks stole away from the Rockets by giving him an offer sheet worth in excess of $46 million over three years. And Dirk expects him to spend at least some of it feeding his new teammates.

From Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas:

“I told him every dinner on the road this year is on him,” Nowitzki said, “because it’s my money anyway.”

Parsons, who considers Nowitzki’s hater humor to be hilarious, fully appreciates the sacrifice the face of the franchise made to make room for him under the Mavs’ salary cap.

“He’s the ultimate teammate,” Parsons said. “I’m very humbled and glad that he did that, because I wanted to be here and I wanted to play here, and I wanted to play with him. That just shows you how much he wants to win. He’ll take that big of a pay cut to try to bring a guy like me to try to help him win a championship.”

Nowitzki isn’t wrong, obviously, because he very easily could have commanded most of what Parsons was paid — just ask Kobe Bryant about that. But after taking home over $200 million in career earnings, he was willing to leave some on the table — and with Parsons being the beneficiary of that, Dirk expects to be paid back at least a small amount for his sacrifice.