By Kyle Boris
It’s almost unbelievable that another NBA season is already upon us. The NBA offseason was full of trades, exciting free agency acquisitions and Olympic basketball that filled our hearts until the 2016-2017 season was ready to begin.
With the regular season ready to get going, I tried to envision what I was most looking forward to seeing in 2016-2017. Could it be the first meeting between new enemies Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook? Maybe it was getting to see Dwyane Wade in the red and white Bulls uniform. Perhaps, it could be finally getting to see Joel Embiid take the court.
Everyone will get to see those three things happen this season, barring any injuries(please don’t get hurt again Embiid), so I’ve decided to take a look at 24 things that might not happen, but MUST happen for me to enjoy the NBA this season.
1.) Russell Westbrook 1-v-1 against Kevin Durant
Let’s get this out of the way early. When the Warriors and Thunder face off for the first time, all eyes are going to be on former teammates, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They won’t be guarding each most of the time, but I’m hoping because of a switch or defensive breakdown we get to see the ball in Westbrook’s hands with Durant guarding him. You know Westbrook will be itching to drive past him and slam down his signature and emphatic two-hand dunk in front of the Oklahoma City crowd.
2.) Harrison Barnes Makes a Statement in Golden State
Lost in all Kevin Durant saga was the fact that the Warriors let Harrison Barnes walk in order to sign the former Thunder forward. Barnes went on to sign a max contract with the Dallas Mavericks and will get his first taste at being the main piece without those guys named Curry, Thompson and Green. Barnes has flown under the radar and people aren’t sure if he was just the product of a great team or if he could carry a team on his own. I’m not sure how his tenure in Dallas will pan out, but it would be great to see him make his first statement as a member of the Mavs with a breakout game in Golden State in the Mavs’ eighth game of the year.
3.) Joel Embiid Tweets During Halftime
Yes, it will be great to finally see Embiid step on a basketball court, but while he was out injured he provided some gold via Twitter. We can only hope his personality and love for the game(as well as his love for Twitter) lead to an improptu Twitter exchange at halftime of a Sixers’ game.
4.) Timberwolves Make the Playoffs
The Timberwolves haven’t had a winning season since 2004 when Kevin Garnett was still on the team(his first stint, of course). The team really hasn’t been relevant since then, but finally with some smart drafting, timely trades and a new head coach, the Wolves might be in line for a winning season and hopefully a playoff push. Another full year of Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins along with Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio, Kris Dunn and Gorgui Deng make Minnesota look like a threat once again.
5.) Ray Allen Returns
Ray Allen hasn’t officially retired, but its been a couple years since he last played for the Heat in 2014. That being said, Allen has continuously stated that he’s still in shape and could just be waiting for the right opportunity. Well, Mr. Allen, now is the time to do it. The Warriors are looking like steady favorites to win the NBA Title, but a return to Cleveland could be just the piece the Cavs and Lebron need to compete with Golden State.
6.) Giannis Becomes a Star
Giannis Antetokounmpo. You know the name. You don’t know how to say it. Even if you do know how to say it, think about how awesome it will be to hear sports anchors over the country attempt to say his name when he becomes a bonafide star. The 21-year old will see action as the point guard for the Bucks and should see huge improvements in his stats leading to the Greek Freak’s rise to fame. We can all laugh as his name is butchered again and again.
7.) The Knicks Make Madison Square Garden Relevant Again
The New York Knicks have missed out on the playoffs the last three seasons. Yes, Madison Square Garden has been electrifying at times during that stretch like when Carmelo goes off or Porzingas piles up huge rejections, but the Garden hasn’t had that buzz around it that comes with a perennial playoff team. If the Knicks are able to get off to a hot start and show their fans that things are different this year then we might get to see MSG rocking like it should.
8.) Linsanity Takes Over the Garden
That being said, how fitting it would be for Jeremy Lin to bring the Garden to its feet once more, but this time as a member of the rival Nets. It can argued that the last time there was that signature buzz in the Garden was when Jeremy Lin ran the town. Even if he’s a member of the Nets now, the crowd in NYC will be split and a stellar performance will get all on their feet no matter which jersey he has on.
9.) Lavine/Gordon II
Do we need anyone else in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest? I think everyone can agree that a three round battle between Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon would do justice. The two put on a show last February and even though LaVine was crowned the champion, the trophy could have went to either man. Let’s just hope they spent this summer coming up with some new tricks.
10.) Chris Bosh Plays Before March 1st
The Miami Heat and Chris Bosh have gotten themselves into a sticky situation. Bosh failed a physical in the offseason and it doesn’t look like he’ll suit up for the Heat again. Bosh could try and find work elsewhere, but if the Heat release him after March 1st, he won’t be able to play in the playoffs if he were to make it with his new team. Obviously, Bosh’s health is most important, but I’d love to see him get another chance with a new team before he hangs up his jersey.
11.) Warriors Win By 70 Points
Running up the score is never nice, but when you have two former league MVP’s, a former three-point champion and a triple-double machine it’s bound to happen. The Warriors will be in plenty of games that are over by halftime. I’m not saying they should run the score up EVERY game, but give them one crack at the NBA record set by the Cavs in 1991 when they beat the Heat by 68 points.
12.) Wade & Rondo Hit a 3 in the Same Game
It’s no secret that Wade and Rondo aren’t threats from the outside. Wade hit seven three pointers last season during the regular season. Rondo hit 62 which was way more than he hit in his previous high which came in 2013 when he made 26 three pointers. Last year he took 170 threes which helped his numbers rise. I can’t imagine Rondo and Wade will become the new Splash Bro’s, but seeing the pair hit back-to-back 3’s would be special.
13.) D’Angelo Russell Has Ice in His Veins…Again
Everyone seems to be boarding the D’Angelo Russell hype train heading into this season. That’s all fine and dandy, but I just want to see another clutch shot from the man so we can see the Ice in My Veins celebration one more time.
14.) Ben Simmons Plays
Injuries ruin everything. Now, when the 76ers are terrible again they’ll have another excuse. Joel Embiid keeps telling us to trust the process and I want to, but I’m getting impatient. Even if the process wasn’t going to work this season, getting to see Ben Simmons do his thing would have been worth it for one more year. Simmons will be on the shelf for the beginning of the season, but hopefully the Aussie can return in time to give us hope that the process should be trusted.
15.) Damian Lillard is a First Ballot All Star
25.1 points, 6.8 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. Sounds like some pretty solid numbers, huh? That was Damian Lillard’s stat line last season, yet they weren’t good enough to earn him a spot on the all star team until an injury made room for him. Two years ago, when putting up similar numbers, Lillard was overlooked once again and left off completely. You can say that he gets overlooked while playing in Portland, but it’s about time fans and his peers begin to take notice and get Lillard a spot that he deserves.
16.) Kevin Love Bounces Back
Kevin Love’s first two seasons in Cleveland have seen considerable drops in points and rebounds. A bounce-back season from the former all star, along with a Ray Allen resurgence, could be just what the Cavs need to have a fighting chance against the Warriors.
17.) The Schroder/Howard Connection Works
The Hawks have been one of the more consistent teams in the Eastern conference over the last few seasons, but the organization decided to change things up this season by losing Al Horford and Jeff Teague while signing Dwight Howard and moving Dennis Schroder into a starting role. There’s some that question whether these moves will work in the Hawks’ favor, but Howard is still ONLY 30-years old. It seems as though he’s been in the year forever, but maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to find something special with the new Hawks point guard. Howard definitely has the character to bring some life to ATL and Schroder’s playmaking skills might be the perfect match for Superman.
18.) The Spurs Contend for the Top Seed
Remember the Spurs? How could you forget? They literally never go away even when they do go away. Yeah, Tim Duncan left, but they quietly replace him with LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. Oh yeah, there’s that Kawhi Leonard guy too. That ain’t a bad big 3 at all. If the NBA wants competition coming down the stretch then we need the Spurs to make a run at the top seed in the West. If not, the Warriors could run away with the West early and keep fans uninterested come playoff time.
19.) Celtics Move Up the Eastern Conference
The Celtics have been creeping up the ranks of the Eastern Conference under head coach Brad Stevens. They finished 7th and 5th the last two years and now are considered a dark horse to contend with the Cavs this year. The Raptors are in the top 3 in the conference seemingly every year, but crumble come playoff time. A young and exciting Celtics team should be able to pass the Raptors in the standings and compete for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
20.) James Harden Wins His First Scoring Title
Harden has seen his points per game increase almost every year since he’s been in the league, however, he has yet to win a scoring title. Well, that could all change this year under new head coach Mike D’antoni who is known for his high-powered offenses. Harden is also going to see time at point guard which should only add to his number of free throws and scoring opportunities. His former Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have already won scoring titles so it could be Harden’s chance to shine.
21.) The Kings Figure Out…something
The Kings have been stuck in NBA purgatory for a while now. They’ve had some good pieces over the years, but a messy front office and a messy locker room has been the downfall to any potential success for this franchise. They have a bonafide star in DeMarcus Cousins, but seem to be wasting his prime years. The Kings haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006 and have only won 30 or more games once in Cousins’s six seasons. Let’s hope they finally figure out something.
22.) We Have Another Great “BANG!” Moment
Any time Mike Breen is behind the announcer’s desk you might be blessed to hear his awesome “Bang!” call. We can only hope we get one like last year’s gem at Oracle Arena.
23.) Porzingis vs. Blake
Due to injuries last season, we never got to see Blake Griffin and Kristaps Porzingis go head-to-head. This match up better go down this season so we can see Blake test Porzinis in the paint. Griffin has a tendency to dunk all over defenders, but Porzingis has been prone to host a block party every now and then. If the two meet at the rim at Madison Square Garden or the Staples Center, the crowd will jump to their feet no matter the result.
24.) Lebron James Takes Down the Warriors
The most exciting storyline may be Westbrook vs. Durant, but the most important storyline will be whether or not Lebron James can do the unthinkable and take down the Warriors in the NBA Finals. James strengthened his legacy with an incredible comeback in last year’s Finals, but this season he faces the huge task of not only beating Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but also Kevin Durant. Lebron will be entering this season as the good guy and the fan favorite for the first time in a long time and fans will surely be rooting for him to take down one of the best teams ever on paper. We’re not sure if he can do it, but we will all be tuning in to see him try.
Did I miss anything? What are you most looking forward to this season? Let us know in the comments and be sure to be on the lookout for more great NBA content on YourSitch.com
Kyle Boris is a contributing editor for YourSitch.com