basketball by August Prum October 17, 2017
It’s finally here. After the wildest and most 2K-inspired summer in NBA history, there will actually be basketball again tonight.
With this comes the opportunity to analyze, prognosticate, and predict the upcoming NBA season. Will anyone come close to the Warriors? Will Russ repeat as MVP? Will LeBron throw the hands with Kyrie at midcourt before the game? Will James Harden and Chris Paul work? What young team will emerge as contenders this season?
We decided to ignore all of those questions and instead pinpoint the players that make basketball the best sport on earth. The players that won’t make an All-Star team or win an award (unless it’s 6th Man of the Year) or decide the fate of the season.
These players have the perfect combination of skill on the court, hilarious hijinks off the court, and endless personality. Many of these players think higher of their own skills than the public or basketball intelligentsia at large. This is not a bad quality, in fact it’s what makes these dudes so fucking amazing to watch.
The NBA is all about entertainment, and these guys make it fun to watch every night, even if they aren’t the best players on the court.
After becoming a league-wide joke over the years for his penchant to call for the ball from players of a slightly higher profile, Dion Waiters had a breakout season last year on the resurgent Miami Heat.
The Heat started the season 11-30, only to go 30-11 for the rest of the season and Dion Waiters was a huge reason for that.
Dude stepped up and averaged 15.8/4.3/3.3 last year, almost got his Miami team into the playoffs, got a 4-year/$54 million contract, and penned probably the most legendary Player’s Tribune article of all-time.
This year will see an expanded role for Dion on a pretty funky Miami Heat team. We’ll be here for all of the ridiculous isolation plays, the fadeaways, and the flexing. Never stop calling for the ball, Dion.
J.R. belongs on this list off reputation alone. This list should probably just be called the J.R. Smith All-Stars. But J.R. is no longer smoking blunts on his terrace in broad daylight or thirsting on Twitter. J.R. is now a married man and a father and his style of play and antics have calmed down accordingly.
While LeBron may have gotten J.R. to bring down the hotboy a little bit, we know deep down in the depths of J.R.’s soul it’s just waiting to spring out and chuck up a contested fadeaway 3 with 19 seconds left on the shot clock.
Part of the entertaining part of watching J.R. is seeing him try to stifle the urge to shoot terrible shots. This is a man that said taking uncontested shots was “kind of boring.” It really doesn’t get any more legendary than that.
Also, there will be 5-10 times this season when J.R. becomes absolutely unguardable for like 5 minute stretches. These are the most sacred of basketball experiences.
The Denver Nuggets 6th man is up next in a long line of NBA hotboys before him. He’s rangy, he’s athletic, he also takes terrible shots.
Barton will lace up for a Denver Nuggets team that should be a bunch of fun to watch and get out and run whenever possible. The fact that he’ll be the first man off the bench guarantees that Barton will have the ball a lot.
Like J.R. and Dion, Barton can get as hot as anyone in the league and with an interesting group of young prospects and players coming into their prime (plus Paul Millsap), the Nuggets will be endlessly entertaining.
Yes, I have combined Nick Young and Omri Casspi into one amazing, 3-point shooting, whirling dervish of hotboydom.
The Warriors were able to add Nick Young and Omri Casspi for ridiculously cheap deals this summer, fortifying a bench that’s crucial to the way they play.
Now, when Curry, Steph, and/or KD takes a seat, Steve Kerr will unleash his second iteration of the splash bros in Young and Casspi, and endless fun and hilarity will ensue.
Nick Young is on a good team now, after spending the last four years of his career on shitty Lakers teams. This should both calm down his antics off the court (this is the sad part) but also take his game up another level. The potential for Swaggy P on this Warriors team is endless.
As for Casspi, he’s shot just under 40% from 3 over his career. Having these two come of the bench on the Warriors will be fucking amazing to watch.
You just gotta love 30-year-old Serbian rookies. But Milos Teodosic is a 30-year-old Serbian rookie who is also the best passer on the whole planet.
The Clippers may miss Chris Paul and the timeline is probably running out on a championship run, let alone competing at the top of the Western Conference, but Teodosic will make this Clippers team so fun.
He’ll be flipping behind the back alley-oops to Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin and chest bumping with Pat Beverly (who just missed out on this list).
Without Chris Paul bickering at every call, the Clippers may even be slightly tolerable. Teodosic will make this team awesome.
The Lakers have a revitalized and young team with a bunch of interesting pieces.
Everyone is talking about Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle, let alone what superstar(s) will join them next summer, but the Lakers also have the most glorious dunker in the league.
This will be Nance’s third year in the league and he’s already put big men across the NBA on posters, including his now-teammate Brook Lopez.
Nance seems to try to get as high as humanly possible on every dunk while also trying to absolutely annihilate the defender pathetically standing in front of him.
The beautiful Michael Beasley will be in the basketball mecca this season, wearing watches on his ankles, going to Up and Down, and jacking up shots as Jeff Hornacek and Knicks fans have conniption fits.
Beasley has one of the most aesthetically pleasing games in the league. His effortless offensive game is too smooth and who doesn’t prefer a lefty anyways? Beasley also has no shortage of confidence in himself, he told ESPN recently that he’s one of the best in the league,
“I still think I have a chance to be one of the best in the NBA. I’m your favorite player’s favorite player. And it’s not enough for me for him to know that. I want the world to know that. So I’m still working hard as if I can be the best ever. If you doubt it, if you don’t believe it, it will just make my story that much better.”
The Knicks are going to suuuuck, but Michael Beasley will make them worth watching.
Jonathan Simmons’ journey to the NBA has been wild.
He went to three different colleges, played semi-professional basketball, toiled in the D-League for years, then finally got his chance with the Spurs in the past two years and became a crucial part of Pop’s rotation.
Simmons signed a 3-year/$18 million contract with the Orlando Magic this summer, so all the great things that we saw in limited action for the Spurs; the long range, the ability to get red-hot in an instant, ferocious defense, and unending passion will be in a much more prominent role on the Magic.
Watch out for my dude Jonathan Simmons this season.
There’s nothing overly interesting about Maurice Harkless’ game. He’s a solid player on a Trailblazers team that should be pretty good BUT the small print on Harkless’ contract makes him a very great player to watch.
Harkless has a stipulation in his contract that will pay him a bonus of $500k if he can shoot over 35% from 3. So when Harkless reached that percentage last season… he stopped shooting 3s.
Ingenious shit from Moe Harkless. Of course he’s from Queens.
I mean, I don’t know what to tell you if you don’t love seeing the 7’3″, 290-pound Boban lumbering around. WE NEED MORE BOBAN! GIVE ME ALL THE BOBAN!