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The 2020-2021 NBA Anticipation List

What can we look forward to as the new NBA season is set to begin shortly?

Miami Heat v Denver Nuggets Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NBA season is back after the briefest of hiatus, and the following is a compilation of things I am anticipating for the upcoming season. It is not an organized list. These are not all the biggest headlines or stories. Just stuff I’m telling you will occur (it’s my list, I’ll put what I like on it). Because this is an anticipation list, I expect all of these things to happen (hey, if I were going to be wrong, they wouldn’t let me put it on the internet, right?).

But some of the items on my list will be fun, some will be a drag, and some will be annoying as hell. So each point will receive a splash rating out of five. The higher the splash rating, the more fun it will be to see this event play out over the season.

2020 NBA Finals - Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Miami ages like a fine wine - 3.2 splashes

The Miami Heat roster is jam-packed full of young talent. Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn and Bam Adebayo are all young studs who have proven they can handle the spotlight in big moments. Even the new addition from the 2020 draft, Precious Achiuwa, is expected to contribute in a modest role.

But this team took its big jump last season by getting to the Finals, testing their iron in the fire and brimstone of the season’s biggest games. Miami is part of the top tier of the Eastern Conference this year. While you hope the roster continues to improve as a group, they are too good to make massive strides. Over the next season, the key will be refinement, like gold in a furnace.

Curry makes people look dumb - 4.6 splashes

Many high profile basketball people got swept up in the Damian Lillard craze last season. Some of these woeful idiots threw out the take that they would pick Lillard over Stephen Curry as the top point guard in the league. HA!

Well, dumb-dumbs, the two-time MVP is back from his injury-plagued season. And judging by his hunger to score already in just the preseason, I look forward to a lot of people walking back stupid opinions.

The Atlanta Buzz - 1 splash

By the beard of Poseidon, can we just be done with the Atlanta Hawks hype? We get it; Trae Young is fun to watch. But we also know that every Hawks fan and sympathizer feels the need to justify the Luka Doncic trade by pumping up Young and the Hawks. Last season, Atlanta was horrible on defense, mediocre on offense, and riddled with inefficient shooting, especially from three. They will likely miss the playoffs. Sit down, and calm down.

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Lakers make the postseason dull - 1.5 splashes

Last offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers added pieces that included Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee. Despite the acquisition of Anthony Davis, the surrounding cast of spare parts that the Lakers fixed LeBron James with did not offer the confidence of a title winner. And then they won. They won convincingly.

Now, in a compressed offseason, the Lake show added Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder, Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol. Damn. This can’t be legal, right?

On paper, this team looks way more impressive, and it isn’t really close. Anticipating a team to roll through the playoffs is never fun, but that very well could be the case in a matter of months if this squad stays healthy.

Harden drama - 4.7 splashes

Drama on any team that isn’t the team you pull for is fun, especially when it involves a superstar. And because James Harden is so good, his drama will likely pull in other superstars if he moves teams during the season. Even better, the idea of the Rockets keeping Harden, kicking and screaming, on the roster for the season. EVEN better, the Rockets keep an irritated Harden while the two new Kentucky additions perform above expectations. Sorry Rockets fans.

2020-2021 Houston Rockets Content Day Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images

Kentucky 3.0 - 3.2 splashes

The real Kentucky is struggling through the college season, and Kentucky 2.0 (the New York Knicks) are just going to make people sad. But Kentucky 3.0 (the Houston Rockets) can be an electrifying transfer from one regime into another.

The return of a healthy John Wall/Boogie Cousins duo tickles every ounce of my basketball fancy and is almost tantalizing enough to make the past two years of chaos in both their careers fade away. Many will look at Harden’s likely departure as the final nail in the coffin of a once contending franchise, but this could be the start of something delightfully fresh.

I am trying to temper my excitement, knowing the injury history of both players. But Wall DID help Marcin Gortat to the best four year stretch of his career. And the best Boogie season in Sacramento? With All-Star point guard Rajan Rondo. The big “if” is health, but Wall and Cousins could bring out the best in each other if they can stay on the court.

Luka’s MVP run - 4.8 splashes

Luka Doncic lived up to his draft hype in year one before making a considerable leap in year two. He averaged 28-9-8 in his second year while becoming a more efficient scorer and creating more offense for his teammates.

The fruit of that growth was a playoff appearance, in which he averaged 31-9-8 in six games against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Luka has turned into a blue-chip piece in the NBA in just two years. A similar leap in year three will land him in the MVP discussion.

Fun-tivities Detroit - 3.8 splashes

The Detroit Pistons being one of the fun NBA teams is a tough sell to make, but here goes nothing.

First: Expect a locked-in Blake Griffin in 2020-2021, with full control of the offense and a hunger to put up stats. The 2021-2022 season is a player option for Griffin, worth $38 million. That is a lot of money to turn down, but if Griffin makes himself attractive to a contender with an All-Star season, maybe he heads elsewhere next season.

Second: Derrick Rose has transformed beautifully from a usage rating black hole and a chasm where shots went to die to a player recognizing his role as a veteran off the bench. He has learned to become an efficient scorer and a decisive off-ball attacker.

Third: Killian Hays is a dynamic rookie guard who plays a fast brand of basketball. He is an efficient shooter who improved as a scorer each of his three years overseas.

I’m buying the Pistons stock. Give it all to me. I’ll sink with this ship.

The Jekyll and Hyde Wolves - 2.6 splashes

Some ask if Karl-Anthony Towns is a good stat bad team player. Others ask if the Minnesota Timberwolves are a few defensive pieces from finding some success. Still, others could contemplate what the future would look like for the Wolves if they added some talented wings.

However, the obstacle the Wolves need to overcome first is consistency.

Minnesota can look great over a half or a week, or even a month. But there is always a horrendous swing back to the mean. KAT and D’Angelo Russell’s offense can be overwhelming and the physical spectacle that is Anthony Edwards is all a visually compelling mix. But this team will continue to muddle its way to 20-win seasons if it can’t find a way to balance out and stay consistent throughout a season.

The Timberwolves are the two-faced date Jerry has in Seinfeld. Beautiful in the right light, but make out to the porch, and “it’s fright night.”

What are you looking forward to the most in the new NBA season?