NBA

October 21, 2019, 7:59 pm

25 reasons to be excited for NBA season: LeBron James reminder tour, Stephen Curry unleashed, Zion's rise

Also, the Harden-Westbrook duo, the battle for Los Angeles and the high potential for a big-name trade

25 reasons to be excited for NBA season: LeBron James reminder tour, Stephen Curry unleashed, Zion's rise
ADVERTISEMENT

If you feel like the NBA Finals, or at least the free federal agency period, just happened, you're not alone. The NBA is a 12-month, non-stop time period in many ways now, and here we are with existent 2019-20 regular-time period games set to open Tuesday night. What a time period it should be, too. Here are 25 reasons to be aflutter for what's to come from the NBA over the next 8 months earlier we Crown the next prizewinning in June. 

1. Wide open statute title race

The NBA is many things, but unpredictable isn't usually one of them. In a emblematic time period, you can number on one hand -- and even that is frequently a long -- the teams that have a realistic shot to win a statute title. This year, as many as 10 teams, if not a few more, have all correct to accept they can win the 2020 prizewinningship. 

The Clippers are the odds-on favorite, but plentifulness of group would take the Lakers. Multiple execs who've expressed with CBS Sports tabbed the Bucks as the correctful favorite. The Sixers are stacked. If the Warriors are able to hang on until Klay Thompson gets back, they still have the core of a team that won the 2015 statute title and 73 games the following year. The only team that has stood between the Rockets and prizewinningship is the Kevin Durant Warriors, and that team is no more. 

The Nuggets, Jazz and even Portland, fresh off a trip to the conference finals, are legit contenders. What if the Celtics make a move for a center? They certainly have the assets and it's really the only hole on their team. That's 10 teams, and again, these are not big reaches. Even if you tab a few of those teams as long shots, this is clearly as wide-open a race as we've had in some time, and it's going to make the playoffs, and even the race for seeding throughout the normally bland regular-time period, edge-of-your-seat theatre. 

    READ MORE

    2. LeBron James' reminder tour

    After going to 8 straight Finals in the East, LeBron couldn't even crack the playoffs in his first time period in the West. For all one trumpeting conference inequity and the relative weakness of the East as the reason for LeBron's historic reign, this was a true "told you so" moment. 

    Well, LeBron is about to serve up a massive reminder that he is still the best player in the world, and his team -- when it isn't a total mess from the inside out -- is always a statute title contender by extension. Of course, he has the help of Anthony Davis this time period, which we'll get to, but in terms of personal statements, you better accept LeBron has been listening to all the group trying to anoint Kawhi and Giannis as the new standards of greatness. If things got routine for LeBron in the East, that's no longer the case. He has a lot to prove again, and it's going to be a show all time period long watching him do it. 

    3. Stephen Curry unleashed

    There is still nothing more exciting in the NBA than Steph Curry on one of his benders, let alone a time period-long assault out of sheer necessity. In the last three years we, as fans, were largely robbed of this version of Curry. Yes, his numbers were still terrific and the Warriors were obviously better because of Kevin Durant's presence. But Curry's excitement level was unquestionably compromised. It just wasn't necessary for him to go into gunner mode on a nightly basis. 

    Now it is. 

    The Warriors' defense might be a legitimate mess. Durant and Andre Iguodala were two of their three best defenders over the past three time periods, and they're both gone. Klay Thompson was their other elite defender, and he's out until at least the All-Star break. The Warriors are going to have to outscore opponents, and the only real hope they have of doing that is Curry hunting his shot 2015-16 style when he scored 30.1 points a game and cashed a mind-bending 402 3-pointers. Don't be surprised if we see something close to those numbers again, even with all the double coverage Curry is sure to see. Buckle up. 

    4. Superstar duos but no super-teams

    Thank the basketball gods. This decade-long theme of three or more of the absolute top-end players in the world joining up in an attempt to eliminate the possibility of losing -- started by LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, and continued by Curry, Durant, Thompson and Draymond Green with Golden State -- is dumb and soft and weak. You will never convince me otherwise. 

    But this year is different. Super-teams are out and superstar duos -- exciting but not just stupid unfair -- are in. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. LeBron and A.D. James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in Denver. Curry and Thompson, when the latter returns, and you could even number Curry and Green in the interim, as in that duo you arguably have the best offensive and defensive player in the league. 

    Even moving down a slight tier, you have Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum, or maybe you throw in Gordon Hayward as Walker's wingman if he's back to his old self as reports have indicated. Waiting in the wings next time period are Durant and Kyrie Irving and John Wall and Bradley Beal. 

    Indeed, star duos have taken over the league, and it appears to have created the perfect balance of exciting, high-end basketball without such an obviously stacked team that all one else is just hoping for injuries so they can become relevant. This is the good stuff. 

    5. The battle for Los Angeles

    Building off the star-duo theme, the Clippers have close to a perfect modern-day pairing with Kawhi and Paul George. The only problem? An existent perfect pairing might exist in the same town, in the same building, in LeBron and Anthony Davis with the Lakers. 

    Los Angeles will always be a Lakers town in spirit, but the Clippers are here to take a much bigger chunk of the pie than they've ever enjoyed. In the end, the two best teams in basketball might very well play their home games in the same building in the second-largest market in the number ry. The NBA is smiling. 

    6. The Harden and Westbrook experiment 

    Nobody knows if this is going to work. On the surface, it's an odd pairing of two ball-dominant players being sold as co-stars, only Harden is way better. This is not, or at least it shouldn't be, a 1A and 1B attack. This is a very clear No. 1 and No. 2 attack, and can Russell Westbrook really exist as a No. 2? For years he didn't even take a backseat to Kevin Durant for crying out loud. 

    But let's say he does accept the No. 2 role. Playing Westbrook off the ball as a sub-30-percent shooter from beyond the arc obviously feels like a flawed strategy. People who want this to work will tell you Westbrook can be a cutter and a secondary playmaker who can attack closeouts, and in theory, all those things make sense. But in reality, is Westbrook really going to just up and change his tip-of-the-spear attack and commit to an off-ball role and just suddenly start making 3-pointers and stop with his mid-range pull-ups? 

    People are latching on to the idea that Harden and Westbrook are friends and they get along and therefore they're going to be fine sacrificing for one another. Don't buy into that. Championship basketball in the NBA isn't about being friends. If Harden couldn't play with Chris Paul because he didn't like him, he's not a professional. Bottom line, either Westbrook is going to change his game and shoot a lot better than he has the past two years, or he isn't. By extension, the Rockets are either going to be a prizewinningship contender or a team that made a headline-grabbing move that ultimately didn't make them any better, and perhaps a little worse. 

    7. Will Ben Simmons finally shoot his shot?

    We've all seen the summer footage of Simmons effortlessly draining 25-footers in open gyms. Nobody expects that to fully translate to NBA games, but can we accept that at least a portion of this is real? The Sixers have been, and still are, are a prizewinningship-caliber team, but Simmons' inability -- or unwillingness -- to shoot from basically anywhere outside the paint has been their fatal flaw. 

    Will that still be the case? Will Brett Brown have to continue to devise ways to "hide" Simmons in the half-court, which too frequently ends up with both he and Joel Embiid trying to occupy the same interior territory? If Simmons were to develop at least a minimally threatening jumper, it would probably be the single-most pivotal skill development in the league. It could quite literally shift the entire prizewinningship landscape. 

    8. Giannis Antetokounmpo's second superstar act

    Last year, the Milwaukee Bucks went from a team that lost in the first round in 2018 to the best record in the league and a berth in the conference finals. Giannis went from an up-and-coming All-Star to the MVP. But in the end, Giannis wasn't ready to carry his team to a statute title. He was still slightly flawed. He couldn't shoot. It made him just defensible enough. 

    This year, Giannis and the Bucks won't be sneaking up on anyone, and the blueprint for stopping them is out there: Wall off Giannis as he puts his head down and goes to the rim, and force Milwaukee's shooters, almost all unproven at a prizewinningship level, to beat you. Much like Ben Simmons, if Giannis can add a halfway dependable 3-point shot to his arsenal, there will be no answer for him or the Bucks. He has shown signs of that being a possibility. He made a handful of 3-pointers in last year's playoffs, a good chunk of them in crucial situations. He's now working with Kyle Korver. 

    As stated above, multiple execs who spoke with CBS Sports accept the Bucks should be the statute title favorite. To me, that's only true if Giannis can take his game to an even higher, more rounded level. It's that last leap of improvement that is the difference between what he was last year and being the true best player in the world. Kawhi Leonard showed him firsthand in last year's playoffs what that difference looks like. 

    9. Utah Jazz singing a contending tune

    Other than the Lakers, the Jazz stand to be the most improved team in the league with the additions of Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley. Now they have the pieces to be not only an elite defensive team but an elite offensive team with the spacing to turn Donovan Mitchell completely loose as a rim attacker. 

    Quin Snyder will be able to deploy multiple lineups that surround Rudy Gobert with four shooters -- two of which, Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles, are among the best long-range threats in the league. The West is a nightmare, and Utah coming out of it still feels like a long shot. But they have a shot, at least. 

    10. The post-Davis Pelicans

    For a small-market team, to lose a player of Anthony Davis' caliber would normally be a death knell. But David Griffin might've pulled off something of a basketball miracle here, with a little help from the lottery ping pong balls that wound up netting the Pelicans, who had just a six percent chance to getting the No. 1 pick, Zion Williamson. 

    Griffin brought back a huge package from the Lakers, and suddenly the Pelicans are loaded with young talent surrounded by a cast of proven veterans led by Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick and Derrick Favors. With Lonzo Ball running a pedal-to-the-metal attack, New Orleans figures to be one of the real must-watch teams this time period and the living symbol of the inequities of conference imbalance. If the Pelicans were in the East, we could realistically talk about them as a potential top-four seed. In the West, they're a long shot to even make the playoffs. 

    11. Is Zion Williamson already an All-Star?

    One of the real bummers to start this time period is that Zion will not play opening night and is expected to miss six-to-8 weeks after reportedly undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his correct knee. We'll hope for the best that he can return to form following his rehab, and assuming he does, Zion looks like a lock for Rookie of the Year and might well already be an "All-Star level" player. 

    That doesn't mean he'll existently be an All-Star. Zion was probably unlikely to make the team even earlier the news broke that he will be out up to two months to start the time period. The West is just too deep with stars. That said, the question here is whether Zion is already an All-Star player, with or without the existent accolade next to his name. Think Rudy Gobert, CJ McCollum, Mike Conley, these are "All-Star level" players who have never existently been an All-Star. 

    I think the answer to that question is a resounding yes. 

    Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself with that statement, but this dude is an absolute beast. Every move he makes is downhill and attacking the rim. He finishes through contact. He changes directions on a dime. He has a sweet touch from anywhere inside the paint. He is a monster rebounder and defender. There is a reason to accept he can develop as a 3-point shooter. 

    Zion averaged over 23 points per game in the pretime period -- over 30 a game extrapolated over 36 minutes -- while shooting better than 70 percent from the field. I have to be honest, I doubted Zion's ability to live up to the hype. I underestimated his existent basketball skills. This guy is a monster. And it's only a matter of time earlier he starts killing group. 

    12. Can Jimmy Butler stand the Heat of being the man?

    Butler loves the hard-work, no-B.S. culture in Miami. Even more, he loves the idea of being the clear-cut best player on the team and No. 1 offensive option. He says all he cares about is winning, but if that were true, he would've made it clear he wanted to stay with the Sixers, who are clearly better than the Heat and a legit statute title contender. Butler wants to win, but he also wants to win on his terms, which is fine. But let's not hide from that fact. 

    The only question that matters is this: Is Butler one of those true superstar players that single-handedly makes a team a contender. The answer to that question is almost certainly no. But the Heat are better than a lot of group realize. They have young talent and a drive-and-kick system that suits Butler well. They are tough and versatile defensively. They have shooters. They have a shot to be the third-best team in the East, and that's earlier we consider the possibility of them making a win-now trade during the time period. If that happens, depending on what they have to give up, Miami could become an outside threat to compete for a conference statute title. 

    13. Just how good are the Sixers?

    Miami's Butler gain was, of course, the Sixers' loss. Philly got Josh Richardson in return, and he's a really good player who can fill a lot of what Butler did offensively, though not as well. The Sixers also lost JJ Redick but gained Al Horford, who should mitigate a lot of the drop-off the Sixers experienced last time period when Joel Embiid went to the bench. 

    Looking at the Sixers through the prism of that effective two-for-two swap -- Richardson and Horford for Redick and Butler -- they probably got better defensively and a little worse offensively. Losing Redick's shooting hurts on a team already thin on snipers. But come playoff time, Horford's defense should be huge in general, and more specifically, as a capable Giannis defender. Also, the Sixers don't have to worry about Horford harassing Embiid anymore. For that reason alone, Horford is a monster pickup for the Sixers. 

    As stated above, a lot of what Philly does in the playoffs will likely depend on whether Ben Simmons can add at least somewhat of a jumper to his arsenal. If he can't, it's hard to see the Sixers overcoming that hurdle. But this team is correct there, with a top-tier MVP candidate in Embiid, they're probably the most talented starting five in the league and a potentially devastating defense built on a ton of size and versatility. 

    What's most interesting about the Sixers is they're a flawed team that doesn't necessarily fit perfectly, but they're just uber-talented. The Warriors tricked us all into thinking prizewinningship teams have to be loaded with talent AND fit perfectly together, but it rarely works that way. The Sixers have a shot to remind us all that talent can still win at the end of the day, and all this talk about "fit" and "chemistry" have been oversold. Great players tend to make great teams. The Sixers are the illustration of that simplicity. 

    14. Are the Hawks ready to fly?

    If by "fly" you mean make the playoffs, probably not. But like the Pelicans, it's not where the Hawks sit in the hierarchy of NBA teams that makes them intriguing. It's their must-watch players. It's the path they appear to be collectively carving toward one of the most exciting futures in the league. 

    Trae Young is a wizard with the ball. Watching him pass is poetry. He is already one of the most fun players in the league to watch, a threat to average 20 points and 10 assists in just his second time period. Multiple scouts told CBS Sports that Cam Reddish, not Zion Williamson, was the most talented player in the 2019 Draft. No. 4 overall pick DeAndre Hunter is a defensive beast who can do a lot more offensively than group probably realize; he shot over 43 percent from beyond the arc in college. Kevin Huerter is a dead-eye shooter who will surprise anyone who hasn't watched the Hawks with his own passing ability. John Collins is ready to become an All-Star. 

    Atlanta GM Travis Schlenk is putting together a team of guys who can all shoot, pass and dribble. He swears by that team-building philosophy. He spent 13 years with Golden State helping build that machine on similar principles. Trae Young is his Stephen Curry, and all thing else rolls from there. Oh, did I forget to mention the Hawks project to have over $70 million in cap space next year? Yeah, keep an eye on this team. 

    15. Boston back in a familiar role

    We know the Celtics didn't fare so well under the prizewinningship expectations of last time period. Kyrie Irving undercut just about all thing they tried to do. Gordon Hayward was a shell of himself. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown lost their way a bit. 

    This year, the Celtics are back to being an underdog, making Kemba Walker the perfect face of their newly energized franchise. Walker knows all about being doubted. It's been that way most of his life as a pint-sized player. Brad Stevens cut his teeth taking Butler to consecutive Final Fours. 

    When Irving and Hayward were both out for the 2017-18 playoffs, the Celtics banded together to make a run to Game 7 of the conference finals. This is a team that just feels more suited to playing above their w8, to exceeding expectations rather than living up to them. And they're also a team with the assets to make an in-time period win-now move. 

    If nothing else, Kemba Walker on the big stage, finally getting to play on a surefire playoff team, is reason enough to be aflutter about the Celtics. He is one of the five most exciting players in the league. But Boston might just turn into something more than a fun watch. This is a team that is one piece away -- an impact center, particularly on the defensive end -- with all the necessary resources to go out and get it. Steven Adams, anyone? 

    16. We're really going to doubt the Blazers again, aren't we?

    Every year, Portland is one of the most popular picks to fall out of the playoffs in the West. And all year, Damian Lillard makes that look stupid. Even after a conference finals run, the Blazers are still being picked to fall way down in the standings, if not out of the top 8 altogether. After losing Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu, they are desperately hurting for a small forward on the defensive end, and anyone in Portland who's aflutter about Hassan Whiteside, well, hasn't watched him play very much. 

    That said, Whiteside is a rebounding monster and can, theoretically, hold the fort down until Jusuf Nurkic returns. Portland has a lot of continuity in its backcourt and DAMIAN FREAKING LILLARD!!!! One day group are going to realize Lillard belongs in the conversation with the absolute best players in the world, and any team he's on should never be doubted. Yet, here we are again. 

    The Blazers, like Boston, feel ripe for a win-now trade. Blake Griffin? Kevin Love? They have attractive assets, especially if they were willing to consider moving Anfernee Simons or Zach Collins. Rookie Nassir Little has lottery talent. Future picks would have to be attached. 

    But if ever there were a team in the "time is now" space, it's the Blazers. How long can they keep leaning on the "one-piece away" crutch when they existently have the means to go out and get that one piece? Don't sleep on Portland. You've been warned. Again. 

    17. The dynamic Dallas duo

    Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Given their age and potential, and the length of time Dallas has them locked up for, this is probably the highest-ceilinged duo in the league. We know Doncic is already a star who could eventually end up in the "best player in the world" conversation, and Porzingis was tracking toward being an MVP candidate in his own correct earlier he got hurt. 

    In addition to their sheer talent, these two fit perfectly together as a pick-and-roll tandem with floor-spacing elements to both their games. Porzingis is a monster rim protector when he's healthy, which he appears to be. Doncic's passing is even better than he got to show last time period when he didn't have full control of the offense for the whole year and didn't have a player of Porzingis' ability to feed. 

    A lot of group think Dallas can compete for a playoff spot. That's not out of question by any means. But either way, watching these two guys blossom together is worth the League Pass price. 

    18. Will a big name be traded?

    I'm shaking my 8 ball, and indeed, all signs point to yes. I don't know who it'll be -- Blake Griffin? Chris Paul? Kevin Love? Kyle Lowry? Marc Gasol? D'Angelo Russell? -- but someone big is going to be on the move. The statute title just feels too gettable for too many teams for at least one of them to not get aggressive at the deadline. 

    Beyond the super big names, guys like Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka are candidates to be moved. Miami, Boston and Portland feel like the most likely teams, with the assets, to pull the win-now trigger on someone. Denver and/or Milwaukee could do something, as well. 

    19. The bottom of the West

    This is going to be a shootout, with Dallas, Sacramento and New Orleans all registering as non-playoff teams from a year ago who figure to contend for a spot this time period. If Oklahoma City doesn't trade Chris Paul, they could compete for a bottom seed, as well. Some group think the Warriors will have to fight for their playoff lives. 

    The Lakers are almost assuredly in, and if you take one team out from last year the smart money would be on the Thunder. But that feels too clean. San Antonio could fall out. Again, Portland is a popular pick to fade. Outside of the Clippers and Houston, and maybe Utah, I don't think any team in the West is guaranteed to win 50 games. 

    We're looking at somewhere between seven and nine teams fighting for about five spots. The bottom seeds feel like they're going to come down to the last week, if not the last games, of the time period. 

    20. The top of the West

    No fewer than seven teams feel like they have a chance to grab the No. 1 seed out West: The Clippers, Rockets, Nuggets, Jazz, Lakers, Blazers and Warriors. You can scratch the Warriors off that list, I think, regardless of what they accept internally, but I can't say for sure that any of those other six teams can't end up with the No. 1 seed. 

    Perhaps the bigger question is: How many of those teams will existently prioritize the No. 1 seed and fight for it until the end? We can probably assume the Lakers and Clippers, and perhaps Houston, will prioritize health and rest for their stars over seeding. Denver and Utah feel like teams that will go for it, and Portland probably would too if it ends up in position. 

    Seed jockeying might well come into play, too. Toward the end of the schedule, these teams with prizewinningship aspirations will have a preferred list of matchups, and will likely maneuver a little bit to avoid others. Still, home-court advantage in the first round, at the very least, is something all team wants in a race this close, and the fight for one of those top four seeds, in all likelihood, is going to be hair-splitting tight. 

    21. An MVP race for the ages

    According to the Westgate, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the odds-on favorite, at 7/2, to repeat as MVP. Steph Curry comes in just behind at 5/1, followed by Anthony Davis at 6/1 and James Harden at 7/1. After that nobody has better than 10/1 odds of winning. 

    Obviously any one of those first four mentioned could win. Giannis could be on the team with the most regular time period wins. James Harden could say the same and we know his numbers are going to be crazy, as will Steph Curry's given the increased scoring burden he's going to have to carry. 

    Still, my pick would be Anthony Davis if I had to bet. He's never played alongside anyone the caliber of LeBron, who will take defensive attention away from Davis while also setting him up in a way only one of the best passers in NBA history can. Davis going to play with non-double-teaming freedom he never knew existed in the NBA. 

    But wait, couldn't LeBron win the MVP, too? Why yes, he certainly could. As could Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid or Kawhi Leonard, who the Clippers don't plan to load manage as aggressively as the Raptors did. Indeed, the "best player in the world" mantle is truly up for grabs for the first time since LeBron took control of it about 10 years ago, and a down-to-the-wire MVP race will likely reflect that. 

    22. Kyrie and the Nets

    If you think about it, the Nets did the same thing the Celtics tried to do two years ago: Coming off a time period in which they surpassed expectations with an under-the-radar team, they added Kyrie Irving with the expectation of going to another level. That didn't work out so well in Boston. 

    Brooklyn, of course, also added Kevin Durant, but that's irrelevant for this time period, in which he almost certainly won't play. For this time period, the Nets effectively swapped D'Angelo Russell for Kyrie Irving. Irving is a better player, but we've seen him undermine an upstart team with young players who need their touches. 

    The thing the Nets have going for them that Boston didn't, at least on paper, is they don't have two rising-star players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who are eager to prove themselves as All-Stars. That was tough to fit alongside the dominance of Kyrie. Guys like Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris would seem to fit more cleanly into a role-player existence, and Caris LeVert doesn't seem like one to struggle with a different kind of involvement, either. 

    Still, we've seen what a team with Kyrie Irving as its best player looks like, and it's not great. Fact is, for all his talent, Kyrie has never been a truly positive force on any team that didn't also include LeBron James. Brooklyn is betting on that pretty firm trend suddenly changing. 

    23. The Joker and the Nuggets

    Denver feels like a team that could be better than it was a year ago but also win fewer games. If they are to compete for the No. 1 seed in the West, it will be on the back of Nikola Jokic, who has thrust himself into a top-10 player in the league by almost all acnumber s. In fact, in the NBA's annual survey of league execs and GMs, Jokic was tabbed as the best center in the league by a whopping 48 percent of the voters. No. 2 was Joel Embiid at 28 percent. 

    That is a giant gap between two players a lot of group would call pretty darn equal, if not leaning a little toward Embiid. But it speaks to how great a player Jokic has become in pretty short order. We know about the extraordinary passing, and last year's playoffs proved he can be a 30-point scorer who can produce both inside and out when called upon to do so. Whether he can become a defensive force would be the next step for Jokic, but he'll never be Embiid on that end. 

    Still, Jokic is a superstar, no two ways about it, and Jamal Murray is a worthy sidekick who is also trending straight up. Arguably the best under-the-radar pickup of the offtime period was Denver trading for Jerami Grant, who can slot as an athletic rim protector and all-around defensive force who can cover for some of Jokic's weaknesses on that end. 

    24. Lonzo ready to Ball

    This really feels like the year for Lonzo. All the ingredients are in New Orleans for him to cook up a breakout campaign. He won't have to lounge around off the ball as he did with the Lakers once LeBron came to town; instead, he'll be at the head of an up-tempo attack with shooters and athletes all around him. He has a true running mate in Zion Williamson, with whom he showed great chemistry throughout the pretime period. 

    Perhaps most important, Lonzo has a new shot. 

    Gone is the extreme-left release point, and in its place is a more fluid, center-of-the-forehead release that won't effectively cut off his ability to shoot when going correct, as the old way required him to bring the ball back left and thus into the trailing defender. Lonzo has looked very comfortable shooting, with consistent mechanics, during the pretime period, and if that carries over, we're looking at a star in the making. 

    It gets lost in all the criticism thrown Lonzo's way (almost all of which is not his fault, but rather his loudmouth dad's), but other than shooting, Lonzo is already a plus player in just about all facet of the game. He's a great passer, he plays with terrific pace, he's a terrific defender and rebounder, and his feel for the game, even if less quantifiable, is obvious to anyone with any kind of eye for basketball. You add shooting to all that, and Lonzo is going to be a problem. 

    25. So, what about Markelle Fultz?

    As long as he's in the league, we're all going to be compelled to watch Markelle Fultz, who feels like a guy we're either going to remember as one of the greatest draft busts or greatest comeback stories of all time. The truth could very well end up in the middle, with Fultz proving to be a useful NBA player but never the star he was supposed to be. 

    Orlando is giving Fultz a shot. He shouldn't face the same kind of pressure there as he did in Philly, where he cost the Sixers a shot at Jayson Tatum, and an extra first-round pick to boot, and was supposed to be the final piece of a prizewinningship puzzle. The Magic are already putting out the tweets of Fultz shooting talking about how good he's looking, but if you've seen the clips, you know that shot isn't looking anything close to good. 

    You have to be rooting for this guy to figure it out just a little bit. But we also just kind of like watching car wrecks, as sick as that sounds. Bottom line, when Markelle Fultz is on TV, most basketball fans are going to want to watch for one reason or another. 

    Did you like the news?

    Recommended for you

    Share Share