With NBA training camp opening on Monday, the best time of the year is almost here. When basketball and football season overlap there's no night of the week devoid of sports, and the MLB playoffs add some excitement too. To preview the NBA season let's take a look at every team and why you should watch them play. Each team has been put into six categories, and today we will start with the NBA bottom-feeders that are so entertainingly bad we can't help but watch.
New York Knicks
If Carmelo Anthony returns at close to what he was pre-injury and stays healthy, then he will have at least a few games where he explodes offensively and will be a must watch. Robin Lopez is an entertaining offseason acquisition and a terror to mascots everywhere (see above). He should also add some toughness down low for a team in desperate need of any kind of toughness they can get. Kristaps Porzingis will also be interesting to watch as he was one of the more polarizing draft picks from the 2015 draft. Here's the deal though, odds are that you will watch the Knicks for one of three reasons: you are a hopeless Knicks fan, you are a diehard fan of the team the Knicks are playing, or you want to see a SportsCenter Not Top 10 highlight live.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers will be better than they were last year, and D'Angelo Russell was a good pick at number two overall. He will definitely be fun to watch, and one intriguing aspect of this team will be how he and Kobe Bryant play together. Kobe, coming off of yet another injury, is clearly near the end of the line, but it would be nice to see him put in a full season this year. Roy Hibbert will also be debuting as a Laker this season, and Julius Randle should provide some frontcourt help in what will essentially be his first NBA season after getting injured in last season's opener and missing the remainder of the season. Robert Sacre's bench celebrations and Swaggy P's general antics also add to the watchability factor for the Purple and Gold.
Is a trainwreck still fun to watch when it's pre-ordained? That's the question when discussing the Sixers in the terms of this category. Everyone who follows the NBA knows by now what Sam Hinkie and the 76ers are doing. Whether you agree with it or not, it's hard not to admire their dedication to the plan. Third overall pick Jahlil Okafor has the skill and physical tools to be an excellent NBA low post scorer. The questions about him, and probably the primary reasons he fell to third in the draft, are if he can defend and what will he do to a team's offensive spacing? Spacing is one of the most important aspects of today's NBA and has become one of the biggest "buzzwords" among NBA analysts. Okafor can't score from the outside, at least he hasn't shown that ability yet, and was not a good defender in college. His determination to work and improve, at least on defense, will be the difference between him being a decent NBA big man and an All-Star. He and Nerlens Noel do seem to complement each other well, aside from the fact that neither can shoot from outside of eight feet, and should be a formidable frontcourt.
Brooklyn will not be good on the court this season, but that's nothing compared to the front office problems. When you catch the Nets on television this season, especially if it's the local broadcast, you definitely want to listen to the commentary. Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian billionaire and majority owner of the Nets, was at one time reported to be looking to sell some of his shares in both the team and the Barclays Center, which plays home to the Nets. Now, reports are coming in from the New York Post that he is looking to buyout all of the minority shares in both the team and the arena, which would leave him with full ownership of both entities.
The problem is that ever since he bought the team they have been trending downward, largely due to horrendous roster management. In an attempt to "win now", the team mortgaged the future to essentially chase the four seed in the Eastern Conference, which just doesn't make any sense. To be fair, the team has made the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, but they've made it out of the first round only once. Selling the future to win in the present is only acceptable when that puts you in position to win a title, either conference or NBA, not just to be a playoff team in a weak conference.
As for the team itself, Deron Williams and his massive salary have moved on to Dallas, leaving Jarrett Jack as the starting point guard. Jack has quietly been one of the better backup point guards in basketball over the last few seasons. Who knows how that will translate into a starting role, but it is encouraging that he is a veteran and a high character guy, even if he will be one of the worse starting point guards in the NBA from a pure talent perspective, particularly at this stage of his career. Joe Johnson's albatross contract is still in Brooklyn, and if you are looking for a wingman who tries on defense and wants to score on every possession, then Joe isn't your guy. However, when the game is on the line, he is actually probably one of the top five or ten guys you'd want taking a game winner. Brook Lopez provides one of the better scoring options on the block, when healthy. If he's not? Then, the Nets will be turning to Andrea Bargnani who inspired this...
Never change Toronto fans!
Sacramento does have at least one bright spot on the court this season and his name is BOOGIE!!!!!!! DeMarcus Cousins has blossomed into one of the top centers in the NBA, despite having a revolving door of head coaches and point guards, none of which are nearly as good as the pair he had in college (John Calipari and John Wall, respectively). Rajon Rondo does come to town bringing with him a dump truck of baggage from Dallas. Rondo's tenure with the Mavs went worse than anyone could have imagined and manifested itself in an ugly and public way. The Kings also have a pair of point guards on the roster named Stockton and Curry, unfortunately neither of which is remotely close to resembling the ability level of the family member who made the name famous. Adding Willie Cauley-Stein to the frontcourt could pay dividends if he and Cousins can mesh into the frontcourt duo the team envisions with Boogie leading the offense and Cauley-Stein anchoring the defense. Unfortunately, the Kings are still the Kings and have an owner who is a proponent of "cherry-picking" on defense, so even their best-laid plans tend to end horrendously, which is why NBA fans just can't look away.