Now is the time when all good basketball fans assemble around TNT to watch hoops. Months of offseason news, acquisitions and player movement, trades and cuts, coaching changes and draft picks and all the other rigmarole coalesce into one magical moment: opening night.
Fans from every team are optimistic about the coming year, though, that optimism ranges from youngsters breaking out and giving hope for a bright and gleaming future to the possibility the season will end in a champagne celebration and banners hanging from rafters.
The long waited for dance will resume, as the rhythmic dribbling of the ball and harmonic squeaking of the shoes provide the musical backdrop to that great and beautiful ballet known as NBA basketball.
And I’m stoked to see it.
I’m stoked to see some of the things that we saw last year. Be it the jab-stepping, foul-drawing, hard-charging bull-rushes of James Harden or the honey-sweet crossover, step back, pump-faking, watch-you-fly-by-while-I-drain-the-three antics of Stephen Curry.
I’m anticipating the joy of watching the cyborg giant, LeBron James charge from the perimeter, defying anyone to stop him—and punishing any who take the challenge by forever honoring them on a poster and thousands of instantly spun Vines, GIFs and memes.
And I long for the magical dribbling of Chris Paul, keeping the ball on a string as he’s weaving in and out of traffic before completing some impossible pass or sticking a midrange jumper in impossibly efficient fashion.
I’m hoping to see that version of Blake Griffin—that lion-eagle beast—who tore up the NBA playoffs with triple-threat skills will be on display all season.
I’m salivating for the impossibly vicious dunks of DeAndre Jordan, the highlight slams of Andrew Wiggins and the indifferently violent throwdowns from Jimmy Butler. And I want to see the passionately reckless Russell Westbrook hate the rim as only Russ can.
There are the things I want to see return, be it the last in-traffic, mind-blowing, room-creating stepbacks of the aging Kobe Bryant or the blazing, downhill slaloming of Derrick Rose as he skids past four and five seemingly motionless defenders for a tear-drop finish.
There are the old faces in new places. I want to see the LaMarcus Aldridge, the “new Tim Duncan” be what the San Antonio Spurs want him to be: a worthy candidate to take the sword from one history’s truly great warriors and wield it well into the future. I want to see Ty Lawson, that speedy little penetrator, be the second shot creator that Harden needs to make the Houston Rockets’ offense something truly special.
There are the developments I salivate to see, such Anthony Davis as he takes his game to a new level, stepping back and taking threes or stepping up and destroying rims as he continues his quest to be one of the great big men who ever played the game.
I want to see the glory return to the Big Apple and the Knicks competitive once again after a new, understatedly competent offseason brought in the right veterans to complement Carmelo Anthony and the right rookies in Jerian Grant and Kristaps Porzingas to build a future around.
There will be young Bucks worth watching as the Milwaukee kids try and prove last year was no fluke. I’ll enjoy watching all that stretchy-lengthy defense bother and pester opponents and make things happen. And I’ll be hoping that Jabari Parker can pick up where he left off before last year’s season-ending injury.
But they won’t be the only ones. Minnesota is going to be fun and downright entertaining as the high-flying Zach LaVine and the aforementioned Wiggins will be recipients of the electric passing of not only the dart-throwing Ricky Rubio but also the low-post passing of Karl-Anthony Towns.
I’m giddy with all the teams looking to amp up the pace and space and enter the new era of basketball, carved out by the Golden State Warriors championship run, which proved you can win a title with speedy style.
Whether it’s the Chicago Bulls and Hoiball, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Billy Donovan or the New Orleans Pelicans and Alvin Gentry, a lot of teams are gearing up to be infinitely more entertaining as they embrace the age of analytics.
But, at the same time, I’m looking forward to watching the slow-but-measured steady drum beat of the Memphis Grizzlies, daring to go against the grain as they try and bully teams into submitting to their brand of basketball.
I’m even intrigued by what will happen with that chaotic chemistry experiment in Sacramento and whether that will develop into something.
And I’m thoroughly fascinated by what sort of whacky moves Sam Heinke will make before the trade deadline.
In a moment of weakness, I may have even entertained what sort of gesture the NBA’s jester, Joey Crawford, will pull off.
In short, I’m stoked for 2015-16. Bring it on.