The NBA is officially back. Well, sort of. The NBA preseason began this weekend as the regular season, which tips off two weeks from today on October 24, is rapidly approaching. Let’s talk about it.
You might be asking yourself: “Gee, Aiden. Why are you switching sports? The NFL season is in full swing?”
To this, I have a few things to say. My team is 1-4 and hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown since Thursday, September 27. The New York Giants are quite possibly the worst team in the NFL, and I’m genuinely already sick of watching them play, just five weeks in. Their starting quarterback, Daniel Jones, got hurt in a 31-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins this week. Their star running back, Saquon Barkley, has been hurt since Week 2. They are missing three starting offensive lineman and have allowed the most sacks in the NFL through the first handful of games.
For lack of a better term, they suck. The Giants are the epitome of an atrocious football team and I’m genuinely sick of it.
Add on the fact that my fantasy football team, like New York, is 1-4, has scored less than 90 points in three of the past four weeks. It looks like it won’t be getting better anytime soon, and I’m getting to the point of acceptance with that. So, the wave of sadness has passed and I’ve moved on, meaning that it’s time to talk about the National Basketball Association.
I’ll return to my hot takes motif for this one – I have a few thoughts on how things will pan out in the league this year that I think are pretty outrageous, but I want to document them regardless.
First, I think Chet Holmgren will win NBA Rookie of The Year. The technically second-year player (he missed all of last season with a Lisfranc injury) is eligible to win the award since he did not touch the court. The Oklahoma City Thunder have been building up a legitimate roster for years now, since the Paul George trade that saw them receive Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in return. With Alexander, Holmgren, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort and more, I actually think the Thunder can be decent this season. It’s been a long time coming for the Thunder, who have been quite down on their luck for the better part of the last 10 years.
My second take, and perhaps this is the pessimist in me, is that the New York Knicks will end up with a top 5 pick in the NBA draft. It pains me to believe this, as a Knicks fan, but I don’t see head coach Tom Thibodeau and co. replicating their success from last season. I think Julius Randle will likely take a step back, and I think RJ Barrett is completely fraudulent. Jalen Brunson is a baller, there’s no doubt about that, but he isn’t the type of superstar that can carry a team to a playoff spot. The Knicks’ run last season felt very flukey to me. I would love to be wrong on this one, though.
My last take is my most confident take, yet perhaps also my hottest take. I think that the Orlando Magic will have a surprise season and end up making the playoffs, as a five or six seed. I think they are being legitimately overlooked by everyone. The Magic’s roster is full of a bunch of, again for lack of a better term, dogs. Start with Franz Wagner, who is now entering his third season and has quietly flown under the radar as one of the better young players in the league: he averaged 18 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists last season. Expect Wagner to take a step forward. Paolo Banchero averaged 20 points and 7 rebounds as a rookie, and I expect him to take a massive step forward in his second year and ascend towards superstar status.
Add in Wendell Carter Jr., Markelle Fultz, Moritz Wagner and Cole Anthony – all relatively young – who each averaged double figure-scoring last season and could all take yet another step forward, and the Magic could have a (dare I say it) magical season in 2023-2024. Rookie Anthony Black, whom Vanderbilt fans know all-too-well, should also make an impact in the rotation. Look out for Orlando to finish as a six seed, at the worst.