Thursday, August 4, 2016

5 NBA Teams to Watch

Wolves ready to Howl
The 2016-17 NBA season should be FANtastic. There will be plenty of storylines and some amazing teams to watch for this year. Beyond the obvious two, the defending champs and the death star, there are some intriguing teams in the NBA, if not entertaining. You're probably thinking this is too soon, you're probably right. I am here furthering my confessed loved of hoops. Below is a list of the five teams I'm most interested in watching coming into the much hyped NBA season. Explanations are as given, along with two honorable mentions.  

1. Minnesota T'Wolves - Karl Anthony-Towns (the most un-tradable player in the NBA due to his potential and being on a rookie contract) is the main reason all Wolves fans should be drooling, perhaps even howling. If you watched him play last year than you know what I'm talking about. Kris Dunn will hopefully fleece Rubio and steal his milk money for good. Wiggins ascension is vital, please be working on that outside game. Lavine's bounce has been put on blast but none other than Dr. J. Will the two-time dunk champ push Wiggins, or maybe win a sixth man award if he comes off the bench? Personally I'm a fan of him starting. Please say adios to Rubio &/or Pekovic if the youth movement whips into shape via the new mastermind. Either that, or they help to solidify the second unit. How will the Wolves utilize Muhammad & Dieng? Then there's Thibodeau, one of the top 5 to 7 coaches in the NBA, taking over a talented young team craving the playoffs. Roster

2. Utah Jazz - Defense, youth, length, a good coach who is modern and intense, mad depth, coupled with a smart franchise, equals a continued rise in the Western Conference standings. They're basically made to defend the small ball spread pick and roll. Hayward, Favors, Gobert, Hood & Burks, plus a healthy Exum,  equal one of the best young rosters in the Association. How will Diaw and Joe Johnson mesh into the mix, along with George Hill and the rookie additions? One's thing's for sure, Utah will play hard, play D and their fans will always fill the arena. Dare I say they're a lock to make the playoffs? I believe they will. Roster

3. Milwaukee Bucks - Freakish upside & length easily sums up the Bucks future. The Greek Freak, aka Giannis, whom I saw last year and was utterly impressed by—he was the best player on the court at times when I watched him at Golden State. Jabari has offensive skills but will he transform into a defender. Or be traded before we see him gel in Milwaukee? Is Thon Maker for real? Is Malcolm Brogdon for real? J. Kidd re-upping and getting to truly put his fingerprints on the team should help them reestablish the magic that took them to the playoffs in his first year there. Will MCW be a switch-everything perimeter stopper or a Shaun Livingston 2.0 off the bench? The Bucks could compete in the East and I haven't even mentioned the highly coveted Kris Middleton, or the trade bait that is Greg Monroe. Plus they signed Dellavedova, I loved him in Cleveland. Roster

4. Charlotte Hornets - Kemba will be fully unleashed now that Lin is gone. I love me some Kemba. MKG will be back and is bound to play his brand of tough-nosed defense and all-out hustle. Hopefully his jumper has been getting smoother, if not a bit more trust-worthy. The Hornets brought most of the roster back and will try to build on their momentum from last year. Batum got paid, Belinelli was brought in, psycho T returns to Carolina, Hibbert replaces big Al, and Steve Clifford is easily a coach on the rise. Plus this is MJ's team. And the East is wide open, other than the fact the LeBron plays in the same conference. Roster 

5. New York Knicks - Come on. Melo, The Zinger, D. Rose & his old pal Noah, Brandon Jennings off the pine/starting, coupled with the acquisitions of Courtney Lee (whom I like) & Tony Wroten, make the Knicks an early season must-watch. Even if I'm tuning in just to see how it all works (it could also be a hot mess of a dumpster fire). Holliday showed flashes last year and O'Quinn will do some dirty work. Really I just want to see Wichita State 2.0 in the pros mixing it up with the Zinger. Maybe the Zen Master could unleash Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early, all those guys did was win at the collegiate level with hard work, determination and real basketball skills that translated into team ball. Oh yeah, I forgot, Phil doesn't think modern players have the proper skills, patience or acumen to succeed in the triangle. Guess what Zen Master? You don't have Jordan and Pippen or Shaq and Kobe and now the NBA allows zone-like defenses—maybe you need to update your Windows '96. Jeff Hornacek coaching in the Big Apple with a former foe as his boss should also be fun to keep an eye on. Two important questions: Will Melo waive his no trade clause to join LeBron? And when will the Knicks realize their highest paid players could have competed for a championship in 2010-11? It's time to start playing the youngsters and build around Porzingis. Roster

Westbrook Snarl
Honorable Mention 
OKC Thunder - Two words: Russel Westbrook! Please basketball gods, keep Russ in a Thunder jersey so I can witness him ripping the NBA a new one. He'll be a triple-double machine, resembling something like an unstoppable mutant X-men alien.

Boston Celtics - They have the best young coach in the NBA (Brad Stevens). They have the most daring and draft stashing master GM (Danny Ainge). And they landed the second best free agent of the summer (Al Horford).


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