Basketball used to come at a perfect time for me. Usually, by October, I’m chomping at the bit for basketball to begin. Usually there’s no basketball over the summer, other than Summer League, and by mid-October, my beloved Dallas Cowboys have already shown signs that they are headed to another season of mediocrity. This year was a bit different. The FIBA World Cup, along with an exciting rookie class, kept my attention throughout the summer. Also the Dallas Cowboys started off well, winning 6 of their first 7 games. When October rolled around I was glad to have basketball back in my life, but the return wasn’t the need that it once was.
Then I had my fantasy drafts. Anthony Davis began the season with a near dirty triple (short by one block). Teams predicted to do well have started slowly (Cleveland, Charlotte, Oklahoma City) and teams predicted to suffer have performed admirably (Sacramento, Boston). The new hardwoods look amazing (New Orleans, Cleveland). I’ve gone out with other excited fans to watch games. Basketball is back.
Nationally Televised Games (All times EST)
Chicago at Toronto 8:00 PM TNT
The Raptors are a solid team who brought all of their pieces back from last year. They have all-star calibre guards and solid play from their other starters. In the East, they seem to be a safe pick for a top 4 seed (especially since they are easily the best team in their division.) The Bulls are unbelievably deep. Their Finals hopes are dependent on Derrick Rose’s health (a risky proposition) but they have arguably the best bench in the league and one of the top coaches in the league.
Brooklyn at Golden State 10:30 PM TNT
I didn’t expect much from Brooklyn but they’ve been ok so far. Golden State hasn’t lost a step from last year even with the injury to David Lee. They’ve played small and shot the lights out. I’ve been excited about Klay Thompson ever since his rookie year(FULL DISCLOSURE: he was on my fantasy team). He’s become a great shooter and a competent defensive presence where most 3 point shooters aren’t.
Denver at Indiana 7:00 PM NBATV
Ugh. I live in Colorado and still I don’t want to talk about this team. They are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. They aren’t a good offensive team. They don’t have a ton of young players who get minutes. They have the other side of getting rid of a superstar player. They received a ton of role players in return and they’ve been a middling team ever since.
San Antonio at LA Lakers 10:00 PM ESPN
The Lakers are unspeakably bad. They have a lot of ESPN and TNT games this year, sadly. My only hope for this game is that the Spurs start their players. The Spurs have continued their tradition of upsetting everyone by benching their star players during a nationally televised game.
Brooklyn at Portland 10:00 PM NBATV
When Brooklyn plays Portland it’s hard not to discuss the Gerald Wallace trade. The Nets, at the time, were a handful of games away from the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. They attempted to trade for Dwight Howard, but Dwight decided to stay in Orlando for another year (and then fled to Los Angeles, then Houston in consecutive years.) Brooklyn then traded their first round pick for Gerald Wallace. Brooklyn didn’t get the into the playoffs that year and their pick ended up as a lottery pick. With that pick, the Blazers selected 2012 Rookie of the Year Damien Lillard. The Blazers look to be a better team in a tougher conference and seem to be in the drivers seat for the division lead.
In the weak Atlantic Division, the Nets may be second-best, if things go well. Instead of using their 2012 pick for Lillard (or Drummond), they’ve made short-sighted trade after short-sighted trade. Wallace is no longer there, Pierce (who they also traded a pick for) is no longer there. KG is almost done. Joe Johnson has 2 years of getting paid 23.1 and 24.9 million dollars. However, at least they’ve done well from a publicity standpoint. They’ve been a popular team and they’ve moved to another arena in Brooklyn. They will have to “pay the piper” at some point, but right now things are going well for the Nets.
Houston at Oklahoma City 7:00 PM NBATV
I guess now would be a good time to talk about the Harden trade where the Thunder got rid of the best shooting guard in basketball for a couple of role players. Instead I’ll just mourn the missed opportunities for the Thunder thanks to their injuries. The Thunder without the injured Westbrook and Durant are similar to the the Pacers. Luckily, unlike the plucky team from Indiana, Westbrook and Durant are projected to return this season. It means that the role players get an opportunity to step up. Perry Jones and Reggie Jackson (the backups for Durant and Westbrook respectively) should be the long beneficiaries of this action.