The 2015-16 season is here and the Golden State Warriors begin it as the reigning champs. As they seek their second straight NBA title, though, we remind you that this is also the 70th season of the league at large.
With that in mind, here are 70 things to note, get excited about and just plain old revel in as we tipoff what is sure to be a can’t miss season for a multitude of reasons.
1 — LeBron James has two rings, four Kia MVP trophies and all of the other career highlights any future Hall of Famer could ask for. He’s every bit the global icon he set out to be as a youngster. And yet there is one thing missing … the fairy tale ending. Thirteen seasons into his career and he’s still grinding to bring a title to his beloved Northeast Ohio and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The quest for that holy grail known as the Larry O’Brien Trophy starts now on opening night.
NBA Player Under the Most Pressure
Some big names will be scrutinized this year: LeBron James, Joakim Noah, Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo make the guys’ list.
2 — Add being No. 2 on this list to the growing pile of motivation for the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. Those “lucky” Warriors who are getting the Rodney Dangerfield (“I get no respect!”) treatment as the season kicks off. They start this season the same way they finished the last one. You are the champs — and in these eyes the favorites to do it again — until someone dethrones you in the playoffs.
Strength in Numbers: NBA Champions
Watch as the Golden State Warriors celebrate their first NBA Championship since 1975.
3 — Call it a comeback for Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Whatever wrinkles new coach Billy Donovan brings with him after a stellar career at Florida should add to the mix. But this season is all about KD and Westbrook reminding the world why they were considered the future of the league just three seasons ago.
Can OKC Win It All At Last?
Dennis and Smitty discuss whether it’s now or never for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
4 — Welcome to the old man’s club Tony Parker. You reach a certain age and stage of your career with the Spurs and it’s time for an adjustment, a new role. Like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili before you, slide over a bit and make room for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard to do work. It’s the Spurs Way!
New Additions In San Antonio
How will the newest Spurs fit into the system in San Antonio?
5 — By now, Anthony Davis should have your full attention. He’s not waiting for anyone to pass the torch. He’s ready to snatch it away from the crowd. And we don’t have to wait to see him in action. He and the injury-ravaged Pelicans go up against the Warriors in the second half of tonight’s TNT doubleheader (10:30 ET).
All NBA League Pass Team: Anthony Davis
See why New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis is on the All NBA League Pass First Team.
6 — The Big 3 Celtics used “Ubuntu” as a rallying cry and unifying force during their championship run in 2008 under Doc Rivers. The Los Angeles Clippers haven’t come up with a catchphrase of their own for this season, but they need one. DeAndre Jordan stayed home and Paul Pierce leads a cast of new faces poised to push the Clippers to the top.
The Association: L.A. Clippers
Here’s your all-acces pass as the Clippers head back to training camp at the NBA Global Games, looking to regroup and reload.
7 — James Harden collected his own hardware over the summer, snagging the first-ever National Basketball Players Association MVP in July. There’s nothing like a jury of your peers voting you the best. However, the “real King James” usually picks up his trophies in June.
8 — A new season brings a new Derrick Rose injury issue and, ultimately, a new round of questions surrounding the future of Chicago’s native son. We’ve talked about it for years now, the Bulls needing him to return to his MVP form. Perhaps its out of the question with all that has transpired since then. We hope not.
Season Preview: Rose’s Role
The guys talk about Derrick Rose’s role on the team and Jimmy Butler talks about his approach to the upcoming season.
9 — Keep on with the Grit and Grind. The league’s most stubborn bunch refuses to give into the rise of the pace-and-space movement. The Memphis Grizzlies are the throwback crew that should serve as the poster boys for the themed 70th birthday bash!
11 — Fear the Deer indeed. Whatever Jason Kidd and Co. are doing in Milwaukee it’s working. Greg Monroe signed on in free agency, spurning overtures from bigger markets from coast to coast to make himself at home as the centerpiece of a young core that includes Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and one of our all-time faves, Giannis Antetokounmpo. If the Bulls aren’t careful, they’ll cede the region to the Bucks.
All NBA League Pass Team: Giannis Antetokounmpo
See why Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo made the All NBA League Pass First Team.
12 — Miami’s starting lineup has never played a regular-season minute together. It’s worked for coach Erik Spoelstra before in a somewhat similar situation, but that was back when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach to join forces with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Fourstraighttrips toThe Finals, and two championship parades, were the result of that union. The Heat would love to play spoiler this time around for LeBron and his new team.
13 — Just so we’re clear on the impact LaMarcus Aldridge will have in San Antonio, he’ll have to defy recent history to improve upon the recent trend of 20-10 players leaving one franchise and either improving or even matching those numbers in their new locations the following season. Kevin Love, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh all saw their numbers dip after their moves. The last elite 20-10 star to see his numbers rise in that same situation? None other than TNT’s very own Charles Barkley, 23 seasons ago, when he averaged 25.6 points and 12.2 rebounds for the Phoenix Suns a season after going for 23.1 and 11.1 the previous season for the Sixers.
How LaMarcus Aldridge Fits In With Spurs
Smitty and 3D discuss LaMarcus Aldridge’s addition to the San Antonio Spurs.
14 — For all the attention showered upon Kristaps Porzingis (for both his quick wit and his childhood corn rows) the Knicks remain Carmelo Anthony‘s team, good or bad. And no one will shoulder a bigger burden on a bigger stage than ‘Melo will this season. If he’s up to it physically and emotionally, the Knicks could finally see their fortunes rise.
15 — The best summer makeover award for a franchise goes to the Spurs, but for an individual the top honors go to skinny Kyle Lowry. No one came back looking better on the hoof than the Toronto Raptors’ All-Star point guard.
17 — Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams riding together in Dallas say, three seasons ago would have been, in a word, diabolical. We’ll have to see what kind of magic they can make in the twilight of their respective careers.
18 — Who says Paul George can’t thrive as an undersized power forward? Not Larry Bird or Frank Vogel. We believe, too. George will warm up to that new twist and the Pacers will be a better team, even a playoff contender, when he fully embraces it and returns to his usual form.
All NBA League Pass Team: Paul George
See why Indiana Pacers forward Paul George is on the All NBA League Pass Second Team.
19 — It’s easy to buy into what Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are building in Boston. A deep and talented roster devoid of superstars but loaded with blue collar types. They snuck into the playoffs last season with a lesser roster. All-StarDavid Lee and veteran Amir Johnson were the perfect additions to keep the momentum rolling.
20 — This is a nice round number, perfect for Kobe Bryant. It’s his 20th season in the league and his final season under contract with the Lakers. If it turns out to be his final one in the league, too, does he go out in a blaze of playoff glory … or fade into the sunset without dazzling us all one last time?
21 — Has Jeremy Lin finally found a home in Charlotte? It certainly looks that way. He’s survived the hype in New York, Houston and Los Angeles and finally found a comfort zone in the Queen City, toiling with his usual flair for the franchise owned by Michael Jordan.
22 — Have you seen the loaded Christmas Day lineup? Happy Holidays from the scheduling gurus at the league office!
23 — An absolutely crazy amount of action on trade deadline day in February would be a great way to stir up the stretch run of the season. The day should include at last one monster deal that shakes the league up. There are too many teams with a win-now-or-else edict. Any supposed elite outfit that is not performing up to par by then will be desperate to make a championship move.
24 — A not-so-bold prediction: the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks, who combined for 127 regular season wins last season in capturing the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences, probably won’t come close matching that win total. And they could both actually be better teams. Strange, yes. But after learning just how grueling it is to maintain that winning pace, they’ll know how to manage the ebb and flow of a marathon 82-game season better.
NBA Action: Atlanta And Golden State Shine In 2014-15
The Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors led their respective conferences posting the best records, NBA Action takes you inside.
25 — Damian Lillard‘s proven himself as a point guard and lyricist. Now he has to prove he’s capable of leading an underdog crew in Portland that is starting over after losing the other four members from last season’s starting lineup. That’s fine by Lillard, who has defied the odds every step of the way and outperformed expectations at every turn. Don’t be surprised if he leads the league in scoring this season.
26 — A word to the wise, if you want to enjoy the best All-Star Weekend of any kind, you will need a passport. #Toronto2016
27 — Maybe 70 is the lucky number in Philadelphia, where the rebuilding process seems like it’s been going on for at least that many years for weary Sixers fans. In the name of Jahlil Okafor, let this be the season Sam Hinkie’s master plan starts to take a recognizable shape.
28 — It’s going to be a treat watching The Beard and the Houston Rockets let it fly from deep this season. James Harden became the first player in NBA history to make 200 3-pointers and assist on 200 3-pointers in the same season, (as NBA.com’s numbers genius John Schuhmann pointed out). Let it fly fellas!
Harden’s Big Night From Downtown
James Harden hits a career-high eight 3-pointers as the Rockets defeat the Hornets.
29 — Any time there is a Van Gundy prowling the sidelines in this league there is bound to be intrigue. Stan is reinventing the way the Pistons play and it starts with cranking up the pace around a dominant low-post threat in Andre Drummond. It worked for Stan Van in Orlando, why not in Detroit?
30 — As big a deal as it to hear NBA Commissioner Adam Silver call your name on Draft night, there is another milestone waiting on Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Jahlil Okafor and the rest of the members of the rookie class. That first NBA basket goes down in the history books. It’s the official welcome to the club moment that all of the great ones have experienced.
50 First Career Baskets of NBA Superstars
Check out 50 first career baskets of NBA superstars stretching from Ossie Schectman to Anthony Davis!
31 — Fred Hoiberg played in the league and knows his stuff. So we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his decision to bring the emotional leader of his team, veteran center Joakim Noah, off the bench this season behind Pau Gasol. It could be the wrinkle these Bulls need to get over the proverbial hump in the Eastern Conference, infusing the starting lineup with a youth movement led by Tony Snell and Nikola Mirotic.
32 — Utah’s Gordon Hayward is the best up and coming player in the league no one seems to talk about, outside of the global Utah Jazz fan base. That should change this season, provided he keeps up the grind he was on at the end of last season. He’s the leader of the league’s third-youngest team (average age 24.9), one that is knocking hardest on the door to be a top-8 squad in the Western Conference.
33 — Doc Rivers joined Twitter … with an assist from Phil Jackson. Is Gregg Popovich next?
34 — Welcome Back Craig Sager. The games are just not the same without you … and your suits!
35 — Injury won’t allow us to marvel at the wicked scoring machine that is Kyrie Irving until months — yes months — have passed in this season. He’s sure to come back with a bang, though, giving the Cavaliers another lethal weapon to add to their already loaded arsenal of All-Star talent. We’ll be waiting.
36 — Two words: Riley Curry … it’s still her world!
37 — The Toronto Raptors swooped in during free agency and snatchedDeMarre Carrollaway from the Hawks before they could even make an offer to their own free agent. If Carroll does for Toronto what he did for the Hawks during his two season’s in coach Mike Budenholzer’s program, it could end up being one of the shrewdest moves yet from Raptors boss Masai Ujiri.
38 — The Cavaliers need a nemesis in the Eastern Conference. They need someone to challenge them the way the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics did during LeBron’s first stint with the franchise. Atlanta, Washington and Chicago all want the job. But the most intriguing potential antagonist for the Cavaliers is the team LeBron left to return home. If Miami’s up to the task, we’ll take it.
Dwyane Wade Interview
Dennis Scott talks with Heat star Dwyane Wade during media day.
39 — Time heals most all wounds, but not this one. Everyone knows the date. Nov. 11 in Dallas. DeAndre Jordan’s first trip to the city he almost called home,before a change of heart in free agency saw him stay with the Clippers instead of honoring an oral commitment to join the Mavericks. Mavericks fans will have their say, finally, in what should be one of the most raucous scenes will see all season anywhere.
40 — Speaking of California drama? There is plenty to go around, from trying to repeat in the Bay Area to trying to rebuild (Lakers) and break through (Clippers) in Los Angeles. But the daily soap opera potential in Sacramento has been meticulously crafted for the reality TV crowd. George Karl, DeMarcus Cousinsand Rajon Rondo have a chance to prove all of their respective critics wrong by co-existing, and even thriving together … or not.
The Starters: Kings Worth Watching
Will it be the Knicks … again? What about the up and coming Wolves? DeMarcus Cousins and George Karl?
41 — Kevin Durant doesn’t want his entire season overshadowed by his pending free agency in the summer of 2016 and we couldn’t agree more. There’s no doubt it’ll be the elephant in the room every time there is a hiccup. But KD’s focus is on trying to lift the Thunder back into championship contention and that’s honestly all we need from him … until the moment the Thunder’s season ends.
42 — All eyes on you Ty Lawson. The Houston Rockets are the perfect landing spot. The style of play and the role they’re asking you to play should fit you like a tailored suit. James Harden needs a running mate and you need a fresh start. No way this goes wrong. Right?
43 — “The Lakers aren’t going to be any good. They’re the fourth best team in California. They’re the second best team in their building.” — TNT’s Charles Barkley’s blunt assessment of the Lakers. Pretty sure this goes in that save-it-for-later file Lakers coach Byron Scott told us he’s keeping during The Hang Time Road Trip.
44 — Harden. Westbrook. James. George. Players throughout the league fancy themselves as modern day fashion plates. Just tune into the postgame interview sessions this season to see who’s bringing it on the fashion front and who’s getting lost in the couture shuffle. No one goes harder than Russell Westbrook, on the court or in the closet.
NBA Fashion From The 2014-15 Season
NBA Fashion and Style from the 2014-2015 Season.
45 — Flashes of brilliance from Hassan Whiteside in Miami and Rudy Gobert in Utah last season proved that there are still some traditional big man prospects out there to be developed. With increased roles and the responsibility that comes along with it, we’ll find out this season if these guys really belong in the conversation with the league’s heavyweights.
46 — They are talking tough in Orlando, playoffs even. Not the players. The playoff chatter is coming from GM Rob Hennigan and coach Scott Skiles, whose never struggled with confidence. The Magic have a talented young group led by Elfrid Peyton, Victor Oladipo and severely underrated big man Nikola Vucevic. But playoffs? We’re talking about the playoffs?
47 — At least one of these guys is getting his All-Star wings this season for the first time. Pick one: A) DeAndre Jordan B) Kawhi Leonard C) Draymond GreenD) Bradley Beal
48 — “I’m done fighting the good fight Timmy. I didn’t think anyone could do this forever. I know when to say when. Just let me know when you are ready and I’ll come pick you up. Sincerely, Father Time”
49 — Someone needs to mount Go-Pro cameras above the baskets at the Minnesota Timberwolves’ practice facility, just so we can see what Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine are working in preparation for All-Star Weekend.
NBA Rooks: Young Wolves Devour All-Star Weekend
A pair of Minnesota Rooks put their stamp on New York City – Andrew Wiggins was MVP of the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge and Zach LaVine owned the Sprite Slam Dunk contest.
50 — The master of the NBA parody, Brandon Armstrong, needs to bless us with his Hardwood Classics collection for the NBA’s 70th. How’s your George Mikan? Can you do Oscar Robertson? What about George Gervin?
51 — Paul Pierce showed us during the playoffs last season that there is still plenty of “The Truth” left in those bones. Going home to finish what should be a Hall of Fame career, reuniting with Doc Rivers, and chasing that title one last time … there’s no better way to go out.
Hang Time: Paul Pierce Interview
Paul Pierce sits down with the Hang Time crew.
52 — You’re up Trey Burke. It’s never too late to make a great second impression. With Dante Exum on the shelf, Burke gets another chance to prove that he’s capable of handling starting point guard duties in this league. The desire and work ethic have never been in question. Matching that drive with quality production at the point could very well be the difference between the Jazz making the playoffs or being back in the lottery.
53 — What in the world does J.R. Smith have in store for us this season?
J.R. Arrives In Style
J.R. Smith’s arrival for Game 4 at the Q.
54 — The fundamental changes to the schedule will be on full display around the league, and perhaps nowhere will it be more crucial than in Cleveland. LeBron’s two-week hiatus came in the preseason this time around (due to a back injury) and he’ll be sure to manage his schedule much more carefully this time around, given the way injuries impacted the Cavaliers in The Finals.
55 — They were all we could talk about two years ago, when they traded away three future first-round Draft picks to put a seasoned overnight contender on the floor. That grand plan backfired on the Brooklyn Nets. Now, they’re left with a starting lineup that lacks the stars and sizzle to satisfy those championship expectations. That’s exactly the way coach Lionel Hollins likes it when he’s motivating an underdog crew.
56 — Just as competitive and intriguing as the MVP race this season will be a Kia Defensive Player of the Year battle that will be headlined by the player many consider to be the biggest threat to Stephen Curry‘s hold on the MVP: Anthony Davis. His game will take off in coach Alvin Gentry’s system that will cater to him and could pull the double dip this season.
57 — The Nuggets will take their lumps this season rebuilding. They’ll do so with the silver lining of knowing that they have a future star, if guided properly, inEmmanuel Mudiay. Patience is the key for coach Mike Malone’s squad, especially young Mudiay.
Nuggets Season Preview: Emmanuel Mudiay
Dennis Scott and Mike Malone take a keen look at what the athletic Emmanuel Mudiay will bring to the hardwood for the Nuggets.
58 — Any discussion about the top big man in the game used to revolve around Dwight Howard. When does he return to that place as the center of attention, if you will? A better question might be will he return to that space?
59 — The fact that Warriors and Clippers have a genuine disdain for one another provides a throwback feel to the game for us, one we haven’t enjoyed in recent years. They’ll settle all of this mess on the court this season, which is exactly the way you want it the social media age.
60 — Volt green? That wasn’t a legitimate color 10 years ago. now it’s all the rage in Atlanta, where the Hawks usher in a new era for uniforms this season with duds straight out of the future. How far we’ve come from the short shorts, floppy socks and canvas high tops from yesteryear.
The Starters: NBA’s Best New Uniforms
The Bucks? The Hawks? Or does the title go north of the border?
61 — Don’t be surprised if Monta Ellis gets loose on opening night for the Pacers. He’s done it before. Ellis one of just two top-40 scorers from last season to change teams (LaMarcus Aldridge is the other). He also owns the highest opening night scoring total for active players in the past 35 years, he dropped 46 points on this date in 2010 as a member of the Golden State Warriors in a 132-128 win over the Houston Rockets.
62 — The absence of coach Steve Kerr at the start of this season (recovering from offseason back surgeries) would be a devastating blow for a franchise and team that doesn’t possess the leadership and superior locker room chemistry the Warriors do.
GameTime: Myers on Kerr
Kristen Ledlow talks with Warriors GM Bob Myers about starting the season without Steve Kerr.
63 — No pressure this season Billy Donovan, no pressure at all. You’re coaching a team that is loaded and built to win now. The only question mark, in the eyes of many, is you. Call David Blatt if you need advice on managing the minefield that will be your first season coaching in the league. It could get a little crazy.
64 — The competition for Kia Rookie of the Year should be fierce, thanks to a deep and versatile class with talent spread throughout the league. Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor are the names everyone knows, but Detroit’s Stanley Johnson, Miami’s Justise Winslow, Orlando’s Mario Hezonjaand others are ready to crash that ROY party.
65 — If you’re a fan of ball-hawking defense, tune in this season and watch Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart in attack mode on a nightly basis for the Celtics. They’re going to do their best to make life miserable for the opposition by locking down at all times.
66 — When asked what fuels his fire after winning it all, Draymond Green said his fear of never having that championship feeling again consumed him in the days and weeks after the Warriors ended the franchise’s 40-year title drought. Perfect answer and the reason why the Warriors repeating as champions doesn’t seem so far fetched.
67 — The Phoenix Suns believe they are a playoff-caliber team this season, same way they did before last season when things went awry and they finished with 39 wins. The best place to start plotting an uprising is in-house. Don’t tell us Suns, show us!
68 — Nerlens Noel on the defensive end, Jahlil Okafor on the other … there might be hope after all in Philly.
69 — Shout out to the late Ossie Shectman of the New York Knickerbockers, who scored the first points ever during the NBA’s inaugural game against the Toronto Huskies on Nov. 1, 1947. #KnowYourHistory
70 — Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to play this season with heavy hearts after losing Flip Saunders on the eve of this season. KG’s bark has always been bigger than his bite, a persona developed under the watchful eye of Saunders when young a young KG helped usher in the preps-to-pros era. KG’s got a huge heart and is as loyal as they come. He’s one of the league’s all-time greats, on and off the court and will serve as the leader and teacher this season, the same way Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell did for him what seems like a lifetime ago. Here’s hoping the Timberwolves do it big this season in Flip’s honor.
Remembering Phil “Flip” Saunders
Vince Cellini remembers the life and career of coach Flip Saunders.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.