FERG BLURBS -- Why You Should Watch The NBA This Year

NBA's Start Needs Your Attention

October 16, 2017
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So, full disclosure, I'm a basketball-head, and have been since I could walk. I had one of those wall-mounted hoops with the rubber mini-basketball pretty much from when I was a toddler to when I was a senior in high school. When I lost the ball, I'd use balled-up socks. I watched countless NBA double and tripleheaders on NBC, late-night games during the week on TNT, and all of ESPN's random college basketball games as much as I could. I used to be able to rattle off the statistics and starting lineups of the most random teams. I had my own "invisible basketball league" of fake teams and players, all broken down into their own divisions and where, ideally, I had them finishing the season. I also played ball, and still do play here and there. It's an important part of my life, and you should understand that what I say is coming from the heart...but you need to watch the NBA this season.

The NBA tips off tomorrow night with a two marquee matchups (Celtics at Cavaliers, Rockets at Warriors) and then kicks into gear Wednesday night with a full slate of games. In the throes of the MLB Playoffs, the NFL regular season, the college football regular season, and the NHL regular season...that's a lot of sports going at once. And trust me, you can jump back and forth to whatever you want to watch...but pay attention to the NBA. Anytime you head back there, you're gonna get way more than you're expecting. 

If you haven't been watching this league the last couple of years...you're probably not alone, but trust me when I say you're missing out. The NBA has never been as talented, deep, and chock-full of young talent as it is right now. The game is played at a higher level than it ever has been before (The perceived lack of defense, in my mind, is a lie, when you consider the pace of play and the ability of teams to stretch the floor), and the personalities are some of the best in the business. The league encourages individuality, expression and, above all else, fun. This is what a sports league should be. 

Still not convinced? Let me lay it out for you with a random list of reasons to be watching this year.

 

1 - LeBron James Is The Absolute Best Basketball Player In The World

At this point, it's not hyperbole...this is the best basketball player in a generation. There's a million stats out there that bear this out (Go ahead, see for yourself), but LeBron, even as he has aged, is still the best pound-for-pound player in the NBA, and someone who we will look back on as the best basketball player ever. There is no other player I have ever seen that makes me say "Oh my GOD" at least 4-5 times a night...LeBron does that. He's a player that defends well, rebounds well, sees the floor well, shoots decent enough, scores well...he just seems to do it all. Even as his shot has gone through slumps, LeBron's ability to make his teammates better (especially by creating the space for them to score) has become his most enduring quality about his play. He sucks the defense in, then has the vision to find his teammates and put them in position to score. This is the best basketball player on the planet, and while his peak may have passed, he still has a few more years left in the tank.

2 - Golden State Is The Most Fun Team To Watch

Chances are, even if you're not a fan of the NBA, you've heard about the Golden State Warriors at this point. They've won 2 of the last 3 NBA Finals; they have the best pure shooter in the history of the league (Take a bow, Steph Curry); they have the best pure scorer in the league, and heir apparent to LeBron's "Best Player" title (Hello, Kevin Durant); they have the league's most famous (or infamous) "Guy You Hate To Play Against But Love To Play With" in Draymond Green; they have yet another prolific shooter in Klay Thompson; they have an affable, fun-loving coach in Steve Kerr...there isn't much this team cannot do. Their offense plays at such a high-rate of speed and efficiency that most teams, even the talented Cleveland Cavaliers of last season, just cannot keep up. The Warriors have put crooked numbers up, offensively for the last four seasons, and also double as one of the best defensive teams in the league as well. Their ability to stretch the floor and shoot from almost all five positions makes them a match-up that, even historically, almost no team can beat, or keep up with. And they are FUN, even if you're cheering for another team. 

3 - The NBA is FULL Of Young, Exciting Players

This is a league that is built for the future. The NBA has young, exciting players on almost every team. Whether it be the Minnesota Timberwolves, with their dynamic duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, or the Philadelphia 76ers and their slew of 1st round picks, including Joel Embiid (More on him in a second), Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. There is no lack of talent or direction ANYWHERE in the NBA, and every team seems to have some young kids hungry to make a name for themselves.

4 - The NBA Lets Its Players Be Personalities

I think this is a big one with me. It just seems to me that the NBA is much more relaxed when it comes to players' individual expression. The sport isn't tied down by weird unwritten rules like baseball, or stuffy old traditions or buttoned-up coach-speak like football. The National Football League has been ridiculed forever for penalizing individual celebration and creativity in favor of "acting like you've been there before" and I think that stifles self-expression. Look, I get it, excessive celebration isn't necessarily what I'm advocating for, but the league seems to actively hunt for things that look like fun and beat it into submission. Baseball is guilty for much of the same. It's a regular occurence in that league when a hitter smashes a home run, celebrates it, and then is pegged the next at-bat because the other pitcher or team didn't like it. And while that isn't a specific "rule" from Major League Baseball, it is part of the elaborate and sometimes hard to follow unwritten rules of the sport of baseball, also seemingly designed to snuff out any sense of fun or enjoyment by the individual. It's not that way in the NBA. Players are loud, vocal and very real in their expressions on the court. There's pushing and shoving, gesturing, show-boating, and above all else...FUN. It makes the league fun to watch.

5 - Joel Embiid Is The Man

I haven't really been watching the NBA the last few seasons for one particular team, though the 76ers would probably be that team. I've decided that this is the year I declare for them for real, and Joel Embiid is the reason behind that. I mean, look at this dude. When healthy, Joel Embiid has the potential to become one of the best players in the league. But, his talent is secondary to what his personality is. Joel has completely embraced the mantra of the Sixers since he was drafted two years ago. "Trust The Process" has been what he's been doing the last two seasons, waiting to heal up and give the Sixers and their fans their money's worth. He gets in stupid twitter fights with other NBA players and is just enjoying himself at every turn. I think that's what I love the most about him: His attitude has always been that he's there to have fun playing basketball. Of course, he takes it seriously, but he's having fun. We should all be so lucky.

 

I hope this post is somewhat coherent and makes sense. There are more reasons I could get into that would require a little more in-depth talking and dicussion (Hot Take: The NBA is LIGHTYEARS more fun to watch than the NCAA), but I think, for now, I'll be satisfied if you read this and thought to yourself, maybe I'll flip over to TNT tomorrow night during a break in the baseball playoffs. Do it, you'll have a lot of fun watching basketball, maybe for the first time in a LONG time, and it'll only be the start. Join us, you'll never look back.

 

-- Ferg