Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Six Reasons Why This NBA Regular Season Rocks

Get To Know It
Bummed out about the end of the NFL season? You shouldn't be. The best NBA regular season in years is going on right now, and it's time for you to get in touch with it. So here's my six reasons why I think it's worth your time.

> Steve Kerr and Golden State. The most watchable team in the NBA is now also one of the best. New head coach Steve Kerr has helped his flash backcourt of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry step up on defense as well, got former All-Stars to go to the bench with a good attitude, and turned stunning offensive talent into an actually cohesive flow and scheme. They don't need any specific player to be hot any more to beat you, and if they can stay healthy, they really are a serious championship contender. If you have any chance to see them, do it. It's worth staying up late for.

> Non-tanking tankers. I haven't had this much fun watching a Sixers team in years. Wolves Fan is far more enthused about this year's team, because Andrew Wiggins looking better and better every day, and they are dying to see how things look with him, Ricky Rubio, Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic and more. Knicks Fan is happy now -- no, honest -- because the team is playing kids and trying hard. And so on, and so on.

> Great found guys. Here in Philly, Big Shot Bob Covington is looking like a keeper and maybe even a starter on a good team, with solid shooting from distance and the line, all kinds of hustle on defense, and even a reasonable amount of versatility to go from anywhere from SG to PF, depending on the matchup. If he gets a handle and/or better at his core skills, he's going to make a lot of money over a lot of years. In New York, the new taste in town is guard Langston Galloway, a vagabond from St. Joe's who fills the box score in a lot of ways while avoiding turnovers. In Miami, Hassan Whiteside has played like one of the best centers in the game for the last few weeks, with triple double efforts for a Heat team that will probably make the playoffs just because he's emerged. And so on, and so on.

> Analytics. Covington, Galloway and Whiteside don't just come from the ether; they show skills in the D-League, have those skills found via scouting and statistical analysis, and get the opportunity to show skills. You might not love guys driving and kicking for an endless array of corner threes, but there are payoffs.

The plan and simple is that the Association is getting better and better at finding talent... and as more teams look to re-boot and re-work, they aren't married to just the big name guys. From managed minutes to enforced rest to deeper rotations, the on-court product has never been better.

> The Death (?) of Big Threes. In Atlanta, the Hawks are going nuts with the best month in their history, behind a sum greater than parts club that calls to mind the 1980s Cavs teams that nearly derailed the Jordan Bulls. Washington and Toronto and Portland are the same story, just in different flavors. Cleveland might get back to the Finals behind the LeBron James / Kevin Love / Kyrie Irving troika, and they might not... and even if they do, I don't like their chances against the more organic and cohesive deeper units of the best teams from the West. If you were turned off by the Heat's calculated run to titles, I have a feeling that the Association is going to make you smile.

> The great and terrible West. There is going to be some fantastic team that doesn't go to the playoffs this year, and it's not necessarily going to be the club you expect. Oklahoma City can't seem to get healthy, and is at .500 after 48 games; they may need to win 5 out of every 7 games from here on out to not stay home. The Spurs are only four games out, as I write this, from being on the outside. New Orleans has one of the best players on the planet in Anthony Davis, and if Jrue Holliday can stay healthy, that's another club that could make a run and push someone else.

Ten good teams, only eight spots.

And this is the league where the regular season isn't supposed to matter, and the first round of the playoffs

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