74 Reasons to Watch the 2019-20 NBA Season

From the LeBron-AD partnership to Kawhi in LA to Stephen Curry's MVP campaign, here are 74 reasons to watch the NBA's 74th season (as if you needed convincing).
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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

With the NBA tipping off its 74th season Tuesday night, The Crossover staff put together its top 74 reasons to watch the NBA in 2019-20. With an offseason jam-packed with splashy moves, stars changing teams and contenders loading up, the league is chock-full of storylines and intrigue entering the new year.

(As always, a hat tip to veteran NBA writer Steve Aschburner for the inspiration.)

1. NBA's open title race. For the first time in what feels like ages, there's no true runaway favorite entering the season. The Warriors are no longer the big bad waiting at the end of each campaign.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James joined in Los Angeles. So did Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Russell Westbrook and James Harden have reunited in Houston, the Bucks brought back every key player except Malcolm Brogdon from last season’s historically great team, the 76ers signed Al Horford, and the Jazz nabbed Mike Conley via trade.

At least eight teams now have a legitimate shot at a title, and that alone should make for one heck of a season. - Alaa Abdeldaiem

2. Steph’s MVP campaign. You know how fun it is to watch Steph Curry do his thing. Most of us remember how fun it was watching him without Kevin Durant. But none of us know what it looks like at this level sans Klay Thompson, who’s set to miss most (or all) of this season. For a patchwork Warriors club to stay in the title picture, it may require a herculean effort from Curry, who’s capable of leading the league in scoring. Whether Golden State deems it wise to extend him to that degree for 82 games is a fair question. But more often than not, there should be fireworks. – Jeremy Woo

3. Lakers-Clippers rivalry. Since Kobe retired, the Clippers have won eight of 12 games against the Lakers in the building they (weirdly) share. Now that Lebron has a proper Robin in the fold, the inter-city rivalry should be hotter than ever as the Clippers also reloaded with some free agents you might have heard of. LeBron, AD, Kawhi, PG, Sweet Lou, Kuz, Patrick Beverly, Dwight Howard, Rondo, AND Alex Caruso all playing in the same game? It’s almost too much. – Jacob May

4. Brad Beal, still rowing the lifeboat. It clearly pays to be the lone healthy star on a desperate team, miserable as those circumstances might seem come January. But if nothing else: Beal is getting a multi-year crash course in running his own offense, which is just the kind of developmental exercise that should pay off once he has viable talent around him. There's nothing like going it alone to prove to a player what he does well and where he needs help. – Rob Mahoney

5. Kyrie in Brooklyn. There’s reason for significant optimism in Brooklyn even without Kevin Durant in 2019-20. Kyrie Irving is a notable upgrade from D’Angelo Russell, and Caris LeVert could cash in with an All-Star appearance in the depleted East. Kenny Atkinson’s pace and shot preference should benefit Irving after a trying partnership with Brad Stevens in Boston last season. Perhaps Irving’s mood will stabilize in a new environment. – Michael Shapiro

6. LeBron passing Kobe. LeBron James passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list last season wasn’t met by the Staples Center crowd with a roaring ovation, but rather a tepid golf clap. Passing Kobe Bryant could create an even more awkward situation. The Lakers’ faithful has been reluctant to embrace LeBron James, especially the fiery cohort of Kobe loyalists. If the Lakers struggle out of the gate, James passing Kobe won’t be anything to celebrate. – MS

7. What will Michael Porter Jr. give the Nuggets this season? The No. 14 pick in the 2018 NBA draft missed all of last season rehabbing a knee injury. During his lone year at Missouri, he missed almost the entire season with a back injury. Michael Porter Jr. was once the No. 1 player in his recruiting class and has the talent to help a Nuggets team that finished with the second best record in the West last season. The question is, now that he’s healthy, how will Porter fit into the team’s rotation and can he develop into the star many had once projected? – Ben Pickman

8. Zion Williamson’s debut. We are going to have to wait for his debut after suffering a torn meniscus. There is a high, high chance Zion’s rookie year will, at minimum, be worth witnessing. Come for the dunks, stay for what the Pelicans (and the NBA’s marketing department) hope is the complete package. - JW

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

9. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George teaming up in L.A. The Clippers were able to pull off the unexpected this offseason, signing reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and pairing him with Paul George, another elite two-way player. It goes without saying, but this team will be a must-watch on a nightly basis. They immediately have championship aspirations, and Kawhi and PG give the Clippers arguably the top perimeter defenders in the NBA. With Patrick Beverley also in the fold, this could be a suffocating defensive team with three players—Lou Will, Kawhi and PG—who can score the ball at will down the other end. – Josiah Turner

10. Solo Jimmy Butler. Forget your superstar tandems! Jimmy Butler is headlining the show in Downtown Miami, and he’s doing it alone because he wants to. The symbiotic relationship between Mr. Buckets and Heat Culture should only make both entities more insufferable as the season endures, and one way or another, that will provide entertainment. – Rohan Nadkarni

11. The Ben Simmons jump shot saga. Can he shoot? Will he shoot? The matter of Ben Simmons’ mysterious jump shot, appearing primarily in summer footage and one viral preseason moment, has given us fodder for debate, and the occasional chuckle. That said, there’s a serious need for Simmons to establish himself as a perimeter threat, particularly come playoff time, where opponents gameplan viciously. Whether he shoots it might be a true difference-maker for the Sixers, who have real designs on contention. - JW

12. Kevin Durant's tweet counts. He’s clapping back at trolls. He’s starting online wars. He’s debating analytical experts. Kevin Durant may not be on the court in 2019, but this one-prolific tweeter and his social media feed may end up being the entertainment you didn’t know you needed. - AA

13. Anthony Davis' MVP chances. LeBron James appears to be beating the drum on Anthony Davis’ MVP chances, and AD should be able to capitalize if given enough opportunities. He’s far more than a one-dribble finisher, and his assist numbers climbed to a career-best 3.9 per game in 2018-19. Davis has made a major leap as a playmaker. If Los Angeles surpasses 50 wins, the MVP buzz will reach a serious fever pitch. - MS

14. Lonzo’s new jumper. Nothing brings in a new season quite like the overhauled form of an uneven jump shooter. Here's to the wild swings in reaction with every make and miss from Lonzo Ball, who very much needed to iron out his mechanics and very much needs to shoot well from three for the Pelicans' sake. - RM

15. New memes. A good meme is bound to happen this season. Check out a few of the best from last season. – Jarrel Harris

16. James Harden and Russell Westbrook reunite as backcourt mates. The general thinking is that Harden and Westbrook are two ball-dominant guards who won’t be able to play next to one another. But I think that’s a lazy way of viewing this. Harden is nearly unguardable one on one, and with Westbrook in the mix, he won’t have to force the action as much when double teams are brought his way. Like the rest of the world, I’m intrigued to see how the two will mesh at this point of their careers. But I’m more optimistic than most, as Westbrook feels like a definite upgrade over Chris Paul. - JT

17. Dame in the wide-open West. Last year’s sweep at the hands of the Warriors was an extremely anti-climactic ending to a great season for Dame and the Blazers (inexcusably wasting a career-game from Meyers Leonard in that Game 4 OT loss). Portland, notorious trend-buckers who stood by their Lillard-McCollum core even as dynasties have risen and fallen around them, now enter a post-Warriors West coming off their best season in years. They made some middling free agent moves (swapping out Mo Harkless, Evan Turner, Enes Kanter and Al-Farouq Aminu for Hassan Whiteside, Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver) and will look to young contributors like Zach Collins and Anfernee Simmons more so than they did last year. McCollum will be as vital as ever to their success, but this is still Dame’s team. The Blazers will go as far as Lillard can take them, and he got them through tough series with the Thunder and Nuggets last year. There’s more respect on Dame’s name than ever before and for good reason, so can he take advantage of the sudden vacuum at the top of the Western Conference? - JM

18. Tim Duncan’s coaching wardrobe. Who cares if Tim Duncan is a good coach. Why does it matter if Gregg Popovich gets purposely tossed just to let him run the team. Let’s focus on what he’s going to wear on the bench (it will likely be baggy). Normcore is back, baby. - JW

19. How will players, coaches react to having a coaches challenge? In July, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the addition of one coaches challenge per game on a one-year trial basis. The challenge can only be called after a timeout and used in particular situations. Throughout the preseason, coaches have already made it clear it’s something they’re going to figure out how to use effectively. And it remains to be seen if the move will lead to praise or if it will garner the same backlash as some of the NFL’s recent rule changes. – BP

20. LeBron-AD partnership. LeBron James finally got his man. There are other superstars who’d pair well with James, but none can accentuate the 34-year-old’s strengths like Anthony Davis can. Davis will help James delay the age-related physical decline that invaded his body last season, while James’s general dominance should summon the best version of Davis we’ve ever seen. Even James said in 2018 that the Lakers landing Davis “would be amazing.” If this pair of generational talents do what they’re expected to do in Los Angeles, we’re about to see why. - AA

21. Warriors as underdogs. The joy that consumed the Warriors in their first championship–and subsequent 73–9 season–faded in recent years, and it's not hard to see why: it's hard to have fun with a championship-or-bust mentality looming over the franchise. 2019-20 shouldn’t bring such heavy expectations. Kevin Durant is 3,000 miles away and Klay Thompson is out until likely the postseason. Golden State is a contender to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The diminished projections could result in a thrilling Warriors season, one in which Steph Curry leads the league in usage and the youngsters actually play. Perhaps Steve Kerr will be rejuvenated by the new challenge. Don’t bury the West champs just yet. - MS

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

22. Markelle Fultz. We will—theoretically—be able to watch Markelle Fultz regularly participate in professional basketball games. Nothing to see here—just another chapter in one of the strangest stories in modern NBA history. No first overall pick has taken such a winding route to actually getting and staying on the floor. - RM

23. NBA-China relationship. The NBA’s standoff with China won’t magically go away, which means a) hopefully a greater awareness of the situation in Hong Kong, b) a better understanding of how ruthless the capitalists we cheer for are willing to get, and c) the possibility of Stephon Marbury, diplomat. - RN

24. Is there any room for Melo? It would be pretty cool to see Carmelo Anthony get one last shot. He is a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest scorers the NBA has seen. We can’t have Melo go out like this. – JH

25. Pascal Siakam secures the bag and becomes the main building block in Toronto. The Raptors lose out on Kawhi Leonard, one of the NBA’s top overall players, but they still have a young, budding star on the roster. Pascal Siakam, who recently signed a four-year, $130 million extension to remain in Toronto, gives the Raptors someone who can create offense outside of Kyle Lowry. I envision the 2018-19 Most Improved Player being an All-Star this season, while leading Toronto back to the playoffs in a top-heavy Eastern Conference. If he becomes a more consistent outside shooter, he could make the jump to a 20 points-per-game scorer. - JT

26. Tall 76ers lineup. The only guy who could guard Joel Embiid is now his teammate. That’s a scary thought for the Eastern Conference, but so is the length of the 76ers new starting five. Ben Simmons (6-foot-10), Josh Richardson (6-foot-6), Tobias Harris (6-foot-9), Al Horford (6-foot-10) and Joel Embiid (7-foot-0) are all solid defenders and, more importantly, very tall. Josh Richardson is a large guard, and he’s the smallest starter by three inches. Surprised to see GM Elton Brand (6-foot-8) let Boban (7-foot-3) walk and allow Tacko Fall (7-foot-6) to land with the rival Celtics. - JM

27. Tank watch. Hello, Hornets. Welcome, Cavs and Grizzlies. Suns fans, we’ll see you in a month or so. While front offices have already come to a consensus that the 2020 draft isn’t particularly inspiring, that’s never stopped teams from trying. And if anything, the Pelicans beating the odds to win the lottery adds some late-season incentive for any team that’s fallen out of contention to, well, fall further. Death, taxes, tanking. - JW

28. Can Trae Young carry the Hawks to the postseason? Trae Young might have turned 21-years-old just a few weeks ago, but the talented guard believes Atlanta has a chance to be in playoff contention in only his second season. Last season’s Rookie of the Year runner-up has a roster full of young talent around him and in a top-heavy Eastern Conference a number of playoff spots are potentially up for grabs. - BP

29. Giannis Antetokounmpo thinks he can get better. Three weeks after being named the league’s Most Valuable Player, Antetokounmpo made that much clear. He averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game last season. He led the Bucks to an NBA-best 60 wins. He was downright dominant for large stretches of 2018, and he still thinks that was only “60%” of his true potential. That thought should scare anyone in his way in 2019. - AA

30. Chris Paul, allowed the relief of a lower-stakes season. No player as competitive as Paul is honestly suited for lottery-level basketball. Yet there's something kind of nice about one of the best point guards of all time doing his thing without the relentless nagging at his every limitation. We know who Paul is at age 34. So let's take a moment to enjoy what he does best during his sojourn in Oklahoma City, while he and the Thunder figure out what's next. - RM

31. New and (old) NBA jerseys! One of the best times on the NBA calendar is when teams announce their jerseys for the season. The Raptors and Grizzlies are both going to throw it back to the 90s with the cartoonish jerseys in a game against each other. - JH

It’s Mountain time for the Jazz again.

The Bulls will also bring back the classic pinstripe jersey. A little mad that they didn’t include the red pinstripes and went with silver but still cool.

The Cavs are bringing back these classics.

The Heat will don these Miami Vice beauties for a couple games.

The Pacers will bring back the flojo jerseys with a twist.

White Coogie theme for the Nets!

31. Election Year NBA. Will LeBron hit the campaign trail again? Will noted hoophead Bernie Sanders buy up ads during the dunk contest? Will anyone call Donald Trump a bum? China may have put a chill on NBA political talk, but the election should warm everything right back up. - RN

32. NBA Christmas Day games. Finally, the NBA gives the people what they want on Christmas Day–no noon Knicks! A tremendous slate of games begins at noon with the Celtics and Raptors serving as the undercard to the 2:30 PM matchup between the Bucks and 76ers, which will be their first meeting of the season and a possible ECF preview. The Westbrook-Harden Rockets will meet Steph, D-Lo and the Warriors at the Oracle at 5 PM before the Clippers and Lakers square up in the coveted 8 PM slot. Night owls are in for a great matchup between the internet’s two favorite teams, the Pelicans and the Nuggets, at 10:30 PM. We would never tell you to watch 12 full hours of basketball on Christmas Day, but it’ll be more interesting than your family. - JM

33. Will Kevin Love be traded? Kevin Love’s four-year, $120 million contract was curious when it was signed in July 2018, looking largely like a face-saving move for Dan Gilbert after LeBron’s departure to Los Angeles. The franchise continues to accumulate young assets, and with the postseason at least two years away, keeping the aging veteran serves little purpose. On the flip side, Kevin Love on a contender could actually swing a playoff series. Love could be a final third piece for a West contender on the edge. Would Brooklyn or Portland pull the trigger? Let’s hope to see Love in a new jersey by the trade deadline. - MS

34. Where will Iggy land? The market for Andre Iguodala. Any number of contending teams are locked in a staring contest, intent to land Iguodala but eager to manage the cost. Trading for Iguodala (and his $17 million salary) will likely require giving up something of value, be it a well-salaried player or draft picks to dress up a bloated contract. Waiting for a potential buyout, however, risks other teams striking first. It's a fascinating bit of game theory—in part because some of the appeal of getting Iguodala is that you won't have to work against him. – RM

35. The race for 8th place in the Western Conference. The West is stacked and there could be as many as 12 teams vying for a playoff spot. - JH

36. James Harden's one-legged shot. We’re teased with a lot of unkept promises each offseason, whether it be Carmelo Anthony workout videos or pictures of Kobe Bryant sculpting Jayson Tatum. James Harden’s one-legged has more promise. The Beard is perhaps the best shotmaker alive, and he’s already the league’s separation king with his lethal stepback. Another MVP could be in store if Harden extends the Dirk Nowitzki one-legged shot to the three-point line. - MS

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

37. Will the Knicks stink again this year? The Knicks’ 2018-19 exercise in futility had a clear desired result: Acquire one of the top free agents available. But with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving instead looking on from across the East River in Brooklyn, the Knicks will instead welcome a cavalcade of role playing power forwards to Madison Square Garden in 2019-20. Frank Ntilikina had a productive FIBA World Championship and Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett help round out a potential young core. But Knicks fans will likely be left thinking about what could have been as they watch Bobby Portis jack up jumper after jumper and wonder about the team’s plan going forward. - BP

38. NBA All-Star in Chicago. NBA All-Star in Chicago during the winter is going to be brutal but it will be the third time the game has been played in the Windy City and the first time since Michael Jordan stole the show in 1988. It would be awesome for Zion Williamson to participate in the dunk contest against Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon. The NBA also has to find some way to include Vince Carter in the dunk contest. Can we just get one All-Star in Miami please???? – JH

39. Vince Carter’s last season. Carter’s transformation from high-flying swingman to cagey veteran to…moderately useful stretch-four as he approaches his 43rd birthday has proven a fitting end to a Hall of Fame caliber career. His incredible longevity landed him in Atlanta in what he says will be his last season. Expect some fond farewells, and the occasional fountain of youth moment. Circle Jan. 28, when the Hawks travel to Toronto. - JW

40. Nuggets will be a must-watch team. Nikola Jokic looks like he works out in between puffs of a cigarettes and large bites of Twinkies, and yet he’s arguably the best center in the NBA with a chance to lead the league in assists. If the existence of a man like this doesn’t make you excited to watch basketball, find a new sport. – RN

41. The Warriors open the Chase Center. The Warriors left Oakland for San Francisco. Oracle Arena will be missed but the brand-new Chase Center has everything you would want in an NBA arena. – JH

42. How good will the Mitchell-Conley backcourt be? Before playing a single game, Mike Conley might already be the best backcourt mate Donovan Mitchell has had throughout his young career. Conley, maybe the league’s best active player to never make an All-Star team, will take pressure off the Louisville product thanks to his playmaking ability. Utah won 50 games last season and fell in the first round of the postseason, but expectations are likely higher heading into 2019-20. - BP

43. The future in Dallas is here with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavericks sacrificed to land Doncic because of the player they believed he could become. Having Porzingis by his side in 2019 will help bring Doncic closer to that potential. And after making a blockbuster trade with the Knicks in late January, Dallas will finally get to see Porzingis in regular season action for the first time in 20 months.They may be young, and the Mavericks’ time may not be now, but this is still a tandem worth watching. - AA

44. East All-Star watch. Some may find enjoyment in whittling down the Western Conference All-Star field in February among a deep pool of deserving candidates. I’d rather mine the depths of the JV conference for our Eastern Conference All-Stars. Can Terry Rozier gun his way to a empty appearance? Is this Domantas Sabonis’ year? It will be difficult finding qualified candidates in the East, further illustrating the deep conference imbalance. Seeding reform can’t come soon enough. - MS

45. Blake Griffin, free from the mold. There was always a playmaking streak to Griffin's bullyball game, but the course of his development (and the demands of the modern game) have made him the world's largest combo guard. Even in a league full of shooting and facilitating bigs, no one operates quite like Griffin, what with his size and strength and abandon in pulling up for a three at any moment. When a player has already transcended his position, what could possibly come next? - RM

46. Pelicans League Pass. You will want to make sure you are in position to watch Zion Williamson dunk every time he decides to bless us with his incredible talents. The Pelicans may even be sneaky good, but that runs secondary to all the thrilling slams Zion will undoubtedly throw down during his rookie year. - RN

47. PJ Tucker’s sneaker free agency. The current sneaker king in the NBA is without a sneaker deal and it is possible Tucker enters the season as one of the best shoe free agents in history. He will have plenty of options to test out all season if that is the case. - JH

48. Inside the NBA. The saddest day of the NBA season is when Inside the NBA signs off for the year. The happiest day of the NBA season is when Inside the NBA returns, ensuring a months-long run of memes, unintentional comedy, Shaq glaring at Chuck, and ultimately, providing a stabilizing hub within the world of basketball. - RN

49. Tunnel fashion. The NBA now has its own style page on the GQ website and is dubbing itself, “the most stylish league in the world,” so you can imagine the fits will be outrageous this season. You can’t just show up in athleticwear anymore–the dank, dimly lit tunnels running under NBA arenas are a catwalk every night of the season. Get ready for lots of photos of NBA players walking under 20-year-old air ducts wearing outfits worth more than your car. - JM

50. BOBAN! Despite (spoiler alert!) his untimely death-by-book at the outset of John Wick 3, the NBA’s tallest and most lovable backup center is back for another season, landing on a European-flavored roster in Dallas. Watching Boban do stuff is never not a joy. - JW

dangelo-russell-warriors-preseason

51. D-Lo in GS. D’Angelo Russell experienced a career revival in Brooklyn last season, and the next chapter could be even more rewarding for the Ohio State product. Russell will see more than his fair share of open triples thanks to the gravity of Steph Curry, able to display the off-ball skills that made him such an appealing collegiate prospect. He’ll still get to run plenty of pick-and-roll in the second unit, but we’re most excited to see Russell thrive as a running mate with the game’s best point guard. - MS

52. Klay's return? There are few experiences in the league more exciting than a Klay Thompson hot streak. 60 points in 29 minutes. 37 points in the third quarter. 14 threes on five dribbles. Perhaps the Warriors three-peat last season if Thompson’s ankle holds up. They could very well win their fourth ring in 2020 if the second Splash Brother is ready by April. - MS

53. Can Dejounte Murray emerge as the Spurs’ PG of the present and future? Heading into last season, Dejounte Murray was seen as an emerging centerpiece of San Antonio’s future. But the 2016 first round pick tore his ACL in a preseason game, abruptly ending his year. Murray started 48 games during 2016, providing glimpses of his playmaking ability and the Washington product’s play could go a long way in determining if the Spurs make the postseason in a crowded Western Conference. – BP

54. Kawhi’s rising marketability. Can Kawhi continue to build his brand in LA? The face of New Balance has been one of the most popular players on social media despite the fact he hates it and everyone. - JH

55. 2020 Olympic team dreams. Next year’s Tokyo Olympics, in wake of a disappointing World Cup result, create a fascinating backdrop for this season, with top American players seemingly on board this time around. I’ll stop short of calling this season an audition — if Steph Curry indeed wants in, he’s going to make the team. But envisioning what it could look like in the context of a wide-open season is daydream-worthy. - JW

56. Next step for Jayson Tatum. First, he was Kobe Jr. Then, he had to be de-loused of the Mamba Mentality. He looked primed for a breakout last season, but then Kyrie happened. He got the invite to Team USA camp this summer with three other Celtics, but they fell way short of expectations and crashed out of the knockout rounds. It’s been a turbulent 12 months for Tatum, but Kyrie’s gone, Kemba’s in and Tatum should take some steps forward in year three. And hopefully not too many stepbacks.- JM

57. Kemba on a team that matters. The situation in Charlotte was bleak by November last season as Kemba Walker posted a career-year amid a sea of unreliable rookies and overpaid veterans. He may not have cashed in with $200 million in free agency, but Walker is now ready to play postseason basketball with a legitimate franchise. Walker scored 175 points in clutch situations last season, second in the NBA behind James Harden, per NBA data. Perhaps he’ll display his late-game chops in the latter rounds of the 2020 playoffs. - MS

58. What will the Pistons do with Andre Drummond? It’s not easy to find the production that Pistons center Andre Drummond can provide: 18.6 points per game, 16.8 rebounds per game and 1.9 blocks per game. And yet it’s not clear if the 26-year-old Drummond is worth potentially becoming one of the highest paid players in the league. The UConn product could opt-out of his current contract and become a free agent this summer and if the Pistons decide that the Drummond-Blake Griffin pairing isn’t one they want to build around, don’t be surprised if Detroit looks to move its shot-blocking center. - BP

Getty images

Getty images

59. Nikola Jokic's passing. Pro tip: at some point this season, watch an entire Nuggets game, focus your attention solely on Jokic for 48 minutes, and see how your life changes afterward. He’s not only an MVP candidate, but he’s arguably the best passer on the planet, envisioning spaces nobody else can see, delivering the ball with touch at unthinkable angles, and doing it all while appearing to run as infrequently as possible. It’s a unique pleasure to witness. - JW

60. Frank Vogel. The Frank Vogel-Jason Kidd dynamic is a perfect addition to the Lakers’ commitment to being the biggest and boldest drama in Hollywood. There’s basically never been a LeBron James coach who wasn’t on the hot seat at some point. It’s hard to expect life to be any different for Vogel, especially with all the experience on the bench next to him. – RN

61. Put Coby White in a commercial. The Chicago Bulls rookie has the best hair in the NBA. That is all. – JH

62. Will the Bulls make the playoffs? After a horrific season in which the Bulls seemed to give up every time they went down by double digits (or just once the second half started), Chicago underwent a rebuild that made them better AND more likeable. Gone are Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, Robin Lopez and an assortment of other refuse that floated at the end of their bench last season. In are No. 6 pick Coby White, midseason acquisition Otto Porter Jr., Tomas Satoransky, Thad Young and Luke Kornet (!) to join a solid core of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Kris Dunn. The frontcourt is loaded and young, the backcourt should hold up fine, and the Bulls, remarkably, have a legitimate shot to sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. - JM

63. Rudy Gobert's All-Star chances. Another victim of conference imbalance, Gobert could be the best league’s best player to not make an All-Star team. That should end in 2019-20. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year made marked improvements as a rolling playmaker last season, and the Stifle Tower is perhaps the West’s best lob threat outside of Anthony Davis. Gobert and Utah could make a major step next season. - MS

64. Ja Morant. The Grizzlies will not win a lot of games, but their rookie point guard will make them immediately watchable, and he may earn his place among the NBA’s best pure passers sooner than later. Morant was aggressively compared to Russell Westbrook after piling up counting stats at Murray State, but his on-court DNA is closer to Rajon Rondo, and he’ll have two quality lob targets out of the gate in rising star Jaren Jackson and fellow rookie Brandon Clarke. It’s not Grit and Grind, but expect some highlights.- JW

65. Devin Booker double teams. The petulant Mr. Booker opened a can of internet worms after this video of him complaining about being doubled during an open run surfaced in August. It spawned numerous memes at DB’s expense, gave Jalen Rose something to talk about and had nearly the entire internet and basketball community in agreement that Booker was…a whiner. And since he is still the Suns’ best player (sorry Ricky), you better believe he’ll see a lot more of them this season. - JM

66. New signature sneakers. Sneaker culture continues to be a very important part of the NBA. This season will feature a boat load of signature sneakers from LeBron James to Stephen Curry to Kyrie Irving to Klay Thompson and even perhaps Delly. The list goes on and on. - JH

67. The Kings’ next step. De’Aaron Fox is absolutely delightful to watch, even more so next to long-range gunner Buddy Hield. Sacramento’s offense crept toward the top half of the league last season, and new head coach Luke Walton should keep the Kings at a breakneck pace. Deciphering a muddled bigs rotation could decide whether Sacramento cracks the playoffs or remains in the lottery for the 14th consecutive season. – MS

68. New faces in old places. Kyrie and AD make their returns to their old teams on November 27 (Nets vs. Celtics followed by Lakers and Pelicans). Kawhi Leonard returns to Toronto on December 11. Russell Westbrook returns to OKC on January 9. - JH

69. Can Aaron Gordon carry Magic to top-four seed in the Eastern Conference? Few teams are exhibiting more continuity from last season to this one as the Orlando Magic. Steve Clifford’s team has its top-seven players in minutes from 2018-19 back and will look to fold Markelle Fultz and Mo Bamba back into the rotation. The Magic finished seventh in the East in a year ago and while continuity will likely help Orlando again be an elite defensive team, how Aaron Gordon performs in his sixth NBA season will likely go a long way in determining the Magic’s ceiling. - BP

70. Bucks as contenders. The Bucks find themselves atop many Eastern Conference projections a year removed from an ECF loss at the hands of Kawhi and the Kawhi-tors, and for good reason. Milwaukee won the regular season in the East, Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews should, in theory, be enough to replace Malcolm Brogdon, Robin Lopez joins his twin brother to bolster Milwaukee’s frontcourt and all the other major pieces return. With KD presumably out for the year, Giannis begins the season as the king of the East. But some questions still exist–can he assert that status by getting the Bucks to the Finals? Are Eric Bledsoe and Frank Mason enough at point guard? Can their bench replicate last year’s sizzling postseason form? Can this team defend well enough to stave off the reloaded Sixers (and Celtics)? We shall see.- JM

71. The Clippers’ supporting cast. The fact that the NBA’s toughest, nastiest group of role players has been empowered to play more physically, talk more smack, and win more games shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle here. Flanking Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is a career-defining opportunity for the trio of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, all of whom have key parts to play in what could be an exciting title chase. The Clippers are a contender based not just on what they added, but the fiber of what was already in place. - JW

72. Victor Oladipo’s return. The long-awaited return of Victor Oladipo. One of the league's most charismatic creators is due back on the floor this season, after a gruesome knee injury cost him the better part of last season. We won't get the full Oladipo experience until he's back at his explosive best, but baby steps—or baby sprints, perhaps—will certainly due under the circumstances. - RM

73. 50-40-90 Towns. The league’s foremost unicorn plays in Minnesota. Sorry Porzingis and Embiid, but Karl-Anthony Towns is the purest perimeter talent out of the league’s impressive collection of bigs. 50-40-90 is a legitimate possibility in 2019-20, too. Towns crossed the 40% mark from three for the second straight year least season, and he’s a career 83.6% free throw shooter. Even if Minnesota falls from the West playoff race, Towns should be a delight to watch throughout 2019-20. - MS

74. New NBA champion. Not only will we have a new NBA champion in 2020, we’re almost certainly going to see the first Finals with completely new teams for the first time since 2015. Change and unpredictability is mostly bad in life, but it’s great for basketball. - RN