Do you have a team to root for in the upcoming NBA season?
I'm not talking about old heads who have been cheering for one franchise since they were kids. I'm also not talking about the longtime fans who passionately cheer for their squad to win it all year in and year out.
Perhaps you're a simple hoops fan who doesn't necessarily get behind any team in particular. Maybe, just maybe, this is the season you finally pick a squad that you can ride on. Maybe this is the time to attach yourself to the rollercoaster rush of emotions that comes with being a die-hard supporter. And if you're afraid to be labeled as a "bandwagon" fan, don't get discouraged! Sometimes you need to hop on the bandwagon before you immerse yourself in the joys and pains of being a fan.
So to help you on your journey to becoming the next superfan, here are a few tips to help you choose your team.
Go with the stars
The most clear-cut route you can go in choosing a team is to look for the stars. The NBA is full of elite athletes and world-class professionals. If we're talking about an abundance of All-Stars and all-time greats, go check out the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nets, despite Kyrie Irving's absence, still have scoring artists Kevin Durant and James Harden. In last year’s playoffs, Durant gave a shock-to-your-system reminder that he's still an otherworldly talent. Watching him play basketball is like witnessing a rockstar command a stadium. The same could be said about Harden and his playmaking package.
Then you have the Los Angeles Lakers and their soon-to-be Hall of Famers. The main attraction is LeBron James, arguably a top 10 great in the history of the league. There's Anthony Davis who's still in his prime as one of the most versatile players today. Add in the newcomers Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, that's a whole lot of stars and storylines wrapped into one team.
You also can't go wrong with the greatest shooter who's ever touched the basketball with Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. With the Milwaukee Bucks, you have two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his superhuman talent.
Another option could be last year's best player Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Watching him redefine the center position is something you can't miss, too. And if you wanna talk about the next face of the league, you have the magician himself, Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks. These stars will provide the highlights and torch the boxscore.
Pick a dark horse
Maybe you don't want to go with the crowd and pick the brightest stars. That's fine, too. There is an appeal for up-and-coming teams that can be future powerhouses.
On top of the list is the young gunslinger out of the Atlanta Hawks, Trae Young. He has that swag and confidence that will make opposing fans either love to hate him or hate to love him. But if you have him on your side, you know you always have a puncher's chance of winning.
Ja Morant is also one of the young guns who will take over the league sooner than you think. He'll captivate you with his never-ending motor and fearless drives. Who doesn't love a small guard going straight at the rim against a blockade of defenders?
The New York Knicks also fall in this category as one of those teams on the rise. Was last year a fluke or are we witnessing the steady climb of New York basketball back to prominence? The Knicks are a decorated franchise but have had more than a fair share of pain and anguish for more than two decades. Rooting for them to return to relevancy sounds intriguing, doesn't it?
For the fun and aesthetics
One of the many joys of watching basketball is watching teams play their style. The Charlotte Hornets and their frontman LaMelo Ball is the first team that comes to mind when you think of a fun and up-tempo brand of basketball. Ball is a maestro with the rock. The 20-year-old’s feel for the game is unreal, controlling the pace at the palm of his hand. And what do you get if you put together a dazzling point guard with a couple of high-flyers? A lot of highlights.
Are you into a truckload of offense? The Utah Jazz morphed into an offensive juggernaut the last season when they claimed the best regular season record. They space the floor well and use a killer pick-and-roll game that frees up their scorers. The Phoenix Suns and their high efficiency of offensive execution also belong in the conversation. The Warriors have Curry, who is a showman himself, but don't sleep on the Jazz and Suns and how beautiful they play the game.
The Miami Heat, on the other hand, will offer you something different: the art of playing defense spliced with meanness and toughness. Imagine someone going through the defensive gauntlet of Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and PJ Tucker with Bam Adebayo waiting at the rim. The Heat will stifle opponents into submission.
Root for the underdogs
Last, but not least, you can go on the road less traveled. There's something about rooting for a team that hasn't quite figured things out yet. Sometimes, the journey to the top is just as satisfying as reaching the summit.
There are the Sacramento Kings and their budding talent. They compete hard and are capable of having a few bright moments across the season. Who knows, they might sneak into the play-in tournament out West.
The Cleveland Cavaliers gives a certain aesthetic as well. Aside from the fact that their backcourt hashtag #SexLand will raise an eyebrow or two, the Cavaliers have something going for them. Darius Garland and Collin Sexton is a one-two punch that can wow fans on any given game.
What about Jalen Green and the Houston Rockets? The Filipino-American's rookie season should be a fun watch. He's a bonafide scorer who will learn the ins and outs of NBA basketball. The Rockets may not be good right now but it wouldn't hurt checking in with Green's progress throughout the year.
Now is the perfect time to be an NBA fan with all the stars and teams on the rise. And going all in with a team is an experience in itself. So buckle up and enjoy the season!