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2014-15 Brooklyn Nets Season Preview

Basketball Insiders continues previewing the 2014-15 NBA season with a look at the Brooklyn Nets of the Atlantic Division.

Basketball Insiders

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The Brooklyn Nets will enter the 2014-15 NBA season with the league’s highest payroll for the second consecutive year. With quite a few significant personnel losses, the NBA’s most recently relocated franchise hopes to build upon the success that they have had in their first two seasons in Brooklyn.

Basketball Insiders takes a look at the 2014-15 Brooklyn Nets.

Five Guys Think

Despite having spent obscene and unprecedented amounts of money over the course of the last couple of years to field as competitive a team as possible, the Brooklyn Nets have continually fallen short of expectations. This year, with Brook Lopez finally healthy, the Nets have to capitalize not only on what could be Kevin Garnett’s last year in the league, but also on what might be one of only a few peak years remaining for both Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. In other words, the time is now for this terribly expensive roster to earn its collective paycheck, and luckily for them, they look like they could have the best team in the Atlantic Division this season.

1st Place – Atlantic Division

– Joel Brigham

The Nets will likely be a very different team in 2014-15. Jason Kidd is out and Lionel Hollins is in. Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston, Andray Blatche and Marcus Thornton among others are out and Jarrett Jack, Jorge Gutierrez, Cory Jefferson and Markel Brown among others are in. Kevin Garnett’s future remains up in the air, although it sounds like the organization expects him back. Getting Brook Lopez back from injury will also significantly change this Nets squad, as he was lost for the season early last year. I’m curious to see what Brooklyn can do and I like Hollins as a coach so it’s good to see him back in the league, but I’m not confident that the Nets are legitimate contenders. That is very bad for a team that mortgaged their future to win now.

3rd Place – Atlantic Division

– Alex Kennedy

Brooklyn entered last season confidently talking about their title aspirations, but the team was humbled early and struggled out of the gate under first year head coach Jason Kidd. While the team did rebound and make the second round of the playoffs, it’s safe to say the season was by and large a huge disappointment.  Kidd is now residing in Milwaukee and Lionel Hollins gets a shot at the helm. The expectations are much lower in  Brooklyn these days but there is plenty of talent remaining on the roster. The Nets will need a bounce back year from fading guard Deron Williams and center Brook Lopez must  stay healthy. The Nets are no longer fringe title contenders but could still make some noise in the Eastern Conference.

2nd Place – Atlantic Division

– Lang Greene

There are still some very serious identity issues as it relates to the Nets. The team will now employ Lionel Hollins—its fourth head coach in less than two calendar years. The departures of both Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce should fill Nets fans with an almost unimaginable pain, as Kidd was a franchise mainstay and prospective savior and Pierce was the major piece hauled in as a result of sacrificing too many draft picks to count. As of now, there are some questions as to whether or not Kevin Garnett will return for what would be his 20th season, but the early indications are that he will. All of that aside, the Nets have added Jarrett Jack and have finally managed to secure the services or Bojan Bogdanovich. With the return of Brook Lopez, if he and Deron Williams can stay healthy, the Nets should have every opportunity to challenge the Toronto Raptors for the division title. Those are big “ifs,” however, and at this point, the safest bet, unfortunately, seems to be that attrition will take its toll and the Nets will end up the third-best team in the Atlantic.

3rd place – Atlantic Division

– Moke Hamilton

The Brooklyn Nets hiring Lionel Hollins was one of my favorite moves of the offseason, and one that I think should pay off immediately for them in a big way, especially if Kevin Garnett returns for his 20th season and plays alongside a healthy Brook Lopez for most of the season. His system and approach fit this group perfectly; hopefully ownership and management keep their distance and let him coach, that’s the only way I could see this partnership not working out. Even without Garnett, this is a team that has the pieces to make some noise in a top-heavy Eastern Conference. They were able to advance to the second round of the playoffs last year, but will miss Paul Pierce and everything that he brought to the table as they attempt to match that accomplishment. I’d be willing to bet on them, if their star players, Deron Williams and the aforementioned Lopez, didn’t have such a bad injury history.

2nd Place – Atlantic Division

– Yannis Koutroupis

Top Of The List

Top Offensive Player: Joe Johnson gets the nod over Brook Lopez, though reasonable minds may offer a different opinion. Last season, when the Nets were way below .500 and struggling to find something, and after Brook Lopez had been declared done for the season, it was Johnson who emerged as the key figure that helped the Nets turn their entire season around. At 6-foot-8 and weighting in at 240 pounds, Johnson is a shooting guard in a small forward’s body and quietly remains one of the more underrated and efficient perimeter post players in the entire league. Although his scoring dipped from 16.3 points per game in 2012-13 to 15.8 points per game last season, Johnson made a higher percentage of the shots that he did take and managed to connect on over 40 percent of his three-point shots for the first time since 2005—back when he was a member of the Phoenix Suns. His playmaking ability has long been underrated, and all around, we consider him to be the most dynamic offensive force in Brooklyn, with Lopez a close second.

Top Defensive Player: What Joe Johnson is on the offensive end for the Nets, Andrei Kirilenko is on the defense end. Kirilenko has the ability to guard no less than three players on the floor, but at this point, we are still inclined to tap Kevin Garnett as the top defender on the team. Although he is a few steps slower than he was back when he helped lead the Boston Celtics to the NBA Championship back in 2008, Garnett is still a brilliant on-ball defender with impeccable timing. Even more so, Garnett is the quarterback on the defensive end for the Nets and can be easily helped barking instructions to his teammates, whether he is on the floor or on the bench. Without Garnett, the Nets are a different team, but especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Top Playmaker: Although his production has waned since becoming a member of the Nets back in 2011, when he is fully healthy, Deron Williams is clearly the top playmaker on the roster. At times, the Nets have opted to force-feed Brook Lopez in the low-post, something thwarting Williams’ ability to run the floor and make plays for his teammates in open space. In his first 12 games as a member of the Nets, Williams averaged 12.8 assists per game. Since then, attrition and roster turnover has seen his proficiency in that area wane. Newcomer Jarrett Jack is a capable distributor, but is not the caliber of playmaker Williams is when he is at full strength.

Top Clutch Player: Without question, anyone who has paid even close attention to the NBA over the past few years will agree that Joe Johnson is not only the most clutch player on the Nets, but arguably the most clutch player in the entire league. Kevin Garnett called Johnson “Joe Jesus” en route to Johnson’s amazing 7-for-7 stretch of hitting shots in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime when his team is tied or behind by three points or less (ESPNNewYork.com). Johnson has come up with huge plays during key playoff moments, as well. The argument can be made that he is the the premier clutch player in the league, so it stands to reason that he is on his own team.

Top Unheralded Player: Mirza Teletovic remains a largely overlooked player in the NBA, and if there is one silver lining to the departure of Andray Blatche, it is that Teletovic will get increased minutes and opportunity to show what he can contribute in the NBA. At the very least, he is an effective floor-spacer at either forward position. At most, he can be a dynamic offensive weapon that can carry a team in spurts. If coach Lionel Hollins can bring out the most of Teletovic on a consistent basis on the defensive end, he can add a unique dimension to the Nets that could make a bigger difference than many imagined.

Top New Addition: The Nets have effectively traded both Marcus Thornton and Shaun Livingston for Jarrett Jack. Jack has different gifts that either of those two, but with Alan Anderson filling in at the shooting guard spot, the Nets may not feel the impact of Livingston’s defense—at least on the perimeter—as much. Jack, on the other hand, give the team another bonafide floor general who can run an offense in the event that Deron Williams misses any time. Bojan Bogdanovic is considered by many to have the ability to be an impact player in the NBA, but until we see it on the court, we will give Jack the benefit of the doubt.

– Moke Hamilton

Who We Like

1. Lionel Hollins: After firing Avery Johnson in December 2012, Hollins will become the fourth head coach to man the sidelines for the Nets in less than two years. The team has seen quite a bit of roster turnover during that period, and the search for an identity is ongoing. If there is one thing that Hollins knows, however, it is who he is. As an NBA player, Hollins was a two-time member of the NBA All-NBA Defensive team and coached the Memphis Grizzlies to the best years in franchise history. He did it by studying his players and developing a system that effectively utilized their collective strengths. That is exactly what he has vowed to do in Brooklyn and based on his impressive track record, it is exactly what he will probably do. Overall, Hollins seems to be a knowledgeable head coach who has the personality to excel in New York.

2. Brook Lopez: Over the course of his six-year career, Brook Lopez has shown impressive growth and reasonable upside. While there may be some concerns over his slow-footedness and how it meshes with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, Lopez, when healthy, is one of the most efficient and hard-working centers in the entire league. Defensively, while he is not the quickest or most athletic, he is a game-changer who can protect the rim and will cause defenders to at least think for an extra second before attacking. There is a lot to like, though concerns over whether he can contribute for a full 82-game season persist.

3. Joe Johnson: Though not the same player he was with the Atlanta Hawks, Johnson’s game has slowed down enough to where he seems to see the floor and his teammates better than before. Still a scorer at heart, he has learned to pick and choose his spots more effectively and has become a more efficient scorer. Without Paul Pierce, Johnson may come under a bit more pressure to produce for the Nets on the offensive end, but with Jarrett Jack flanking him, Johnson should be able to focus on scoring and continue to be the most consistent Net of them all.

4. Mason Plumlee: Plumlee was one of the players who helped the Nets turn their season around last year and his on-the-fly learning and development into an everyday NBA contributor has been noticed by even casual NBA onlookers. With a gold medal in tow from the FIBA World Cup this past summer, Plumlee will enter the season a bit wiser and with a first-hand look of what it takes to be successful at the professional level. That will pay dividends for the Nets.

5. Mikhail Prokhorov: The willingness to write checks is something we have to respect about any owner in the NBA. For that reason, Prokhorov deserves our affection, but if you have never stood near the Russian billionaire, you have been robbed of an opportunity to experience a man with unlimited swag and an insatiable desire to win and win big. To this point, he has certainly been an owner worthy of respect. Even if his Nets have not come close to winning a championship, they have made impressive progress since he took over.

– Moke Hamilton

Strengths

Even with the losses of Shaun Livingston, Paul Pierce and Andray Blatche, the Nets are still a fairly deep team. Talent has never been an issue with this group, it has been more about attrition and the finding of an identity. With Lionel Hollins, the Nets will collectively hope to mimic the success that Hollins found with the Memphis Grizzlies, where he led the team to a combined record of 183-129 in his four full seasons at the head coach. With Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Jarrett Jack and an impressive group of youngsters that includes Mason Plumlee, the Nets have enough to contend out East, it’s just a matter of how Hollins meshes it all together.

– Moke Hamilton

Weaknesses

Age and attrition. While they may be talented, they certainly are aging. Deron Williams will join Kevin Garnett (38 years old), Joe Johnson (33 years old), Andrei Kirilenko (33 years old) and Jarrett Jack (30 years old) in the 30-and-older club. Brook Lopez, while just 25 years old, doesn’t exactly have a record of exemplary health. While there is more upside on this roster with Mason Plumlee, Mirza Teletovic, Marquis Teague and Bojan Bogdanovic, the Nets will be counting on an aging core of veterans to get them past younger, more spry teams in the Eastern Conference such as the Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards and, obviously, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

– Moke Hamilton

The Salary Cap

The Nets have become a perennial taxpayer, leading the league in payroll.  The franchise is locked in to about $93 million in salary with 13 guaranteed players, which would lead to an approximate tax bill of $33.2 million.  That’s actually a drop after last year’s $102.8 million payroll and $90.6 million tax hit.  Brooklyn used their primary spending tool, the $3.3 million Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception on rookie Bojan Bogdanovic.  Other than acquiring players through trade, the Nets have just minimum contracts to offer.  The team also has trade exceptions on their books, but at under $800k each – they likely go unused.

– Eric Pincus

Dunc’d On

The Nets were one of the highest profile squads in the league last year, but seem to have completely fallen off the radar this year due to the departures of Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston, and Jason Kidd.  Nevertheless, there are some reasons to believe this team could be better than last year.  Recall that in 2012-13, Brooklyn won 49 games with Brook Lopez and Deron Williams healthy–if they can get back to their form from that year the Nets could easily surprise for a team that many are picking to miss the playoffs.  Andrei Kirilenko is another player who had essentially a lost year, and with the Nets’ hole at the 4 he could finally get a chance for significant minutes at what is really his natural position.

While age and injuries make a bounce-back season for the Nets less likely, it is at least possible given the talent on hand.

Best Case

50-32

See some of the reasons for optimism above.  Mason Plumlee continues to improve off a summer with USA Basketball, and he, Lopez, and Garnett provide a very solid big man rotation.  Coach Lionel Hollins, potentially but not certainly an upgrade on Jason Kidd, uses the versatile frontcourt with those players, Kirilenko, and Mirza Teletovic to gain matchup advantages on a nightly basis.  Joe Johnson continues to defy the aging process and plays like he did in the 2014 playoffs, while young wings Bojan Bogdanovic and Sergey Karasev contribute in backup roles.

Worst Case

35-57

Williams continues to struggle and confirms that he is basically done as a high-level player.  Lopez suffers a third foot injury that also puts his career in question.  Without those two, the Nets lack scoring and crater into the bottom quarter of the league.  While the defense holds up under Hollins, they simply cannot put the ball in the basket without any stars, as Johnson really only qualifies against certain matchups when he has the size advantage.  It is ironic indeed that a team that has paid so much luxury tax over the years could very well end up in a position without any true stars at all.

– Nate Duncan

The Burning Question

Are the Nets a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference?

It is difficult imagining the Nets improving over last year’s 44-38 record without Paul Pierce, but it is not out of the question. If things break right for the Nets—if Brook Lopez and Deron Williams can both stay healthy and if Bojan Bogdanovic and Mirza Teletovic are difference makers—then contention is possible. Of all divisions in the NBA, the Atlantic is most difficult to predict. If the Nets were able to win the division and draw either the Charlotte Hornets or Washington Wizards in the first round, they would certainly have a chance to win. In fact, with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ size issues and Chicago Bulls’ consistent injury issues, we would be foolish to discount the Nets completely. Yes, there are a lot of variables, but as Kevin Garnett once said… Anything is possible.

– Moke Hamilton

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NBA PM: Hornets Rookies May Become Key Contributors

Some key injuries may force Charlotte’s rookies into becoming effective role players earlier than expected, writes James Blancarte.

James Blancarte

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As the NBA finally gets underway tomorrow evening, the 2017 rookie draft class will get their first taste of regular season action. Teams reliant on young rookie talent might produce an exciting brand of basketball but that rarely translates into a winning formula. Having rookies play a key role for a team hoping to make the playoffs can be a risky endeavor.

Out West, the Los Angeles Lakers are relying on both Lonzo Ball as well as Kyle Kuzma, who may have worked his way into the rotation with his surprising preseason play. However, the Lakers are, at this point, not realistic contenders in the competitive Western Conference. In the East, the Philadelphia 76ers have more realistic playoff hopes. The team is relying on this year’s top overall draft pick, Markelle Fultz, and 2016’s top pick, Ben Simmons, for meaningful production. Although Simmons has been in the league for over a year, he is still classified as a rookie for this season since he didn’t play last season.

The Charlotte Hornets are looking to return to the playoffs after narrowly missing the cut this past season. The team will likely feature not one, but two true rookies as a part of their regular rotation. Like the Lakers, the Hornets feature a highly touted rookie with the talent and poise to contribute right away in Malik Monk. The team also features Dwayne Bacon, a rookie that has flashed scoring potential as well as maturity — key attributes that will allow him to quickly contribute to the team.

Both players will be given the opportunity to contribute as a result of the unfortunate and untimely injury to forward Nicolas Batum. Batum tore a ligament in his left elbow in an October 4 preseason game against the Detroit Pistons. Initial speculation was that the injury would require surgery. However, it was announced on October 10 that surgery would not be necessary, and that he is projected to return in six to eight weeks. Assuming that there are no setbacks in Batum’s recovery, the Hornets will be looking to replace his perimeter scoring, playmaking abilities and perimeter defense. Enter Monk and Bacon.

Monk and Bacon have both shown the ability to score the ball, which is not exactly a common trait in Hornets rookies. Bacon, the 40th pick in the 2017 NBA draft, has made it a point to look for his shot from the outside, averaging 7.8 three-point shots per game while knocking down 33.3 percent of his attempts. As Bacon gains more experience, he presumably will learn how to get cleaner looks at the basket within the flow of the team’s offense. Doing so should help him increase his shooting percentage from beyond the arc, which would turn him into an even more effective contributor for Charlotte.

Bacon spoke to reporters after a recent preseason game against the Boston Celtics. Bacon was placed in the starting lineup and went 4-4 from three-point range in 34 minutes of action.

When asked what are some of the things he wanted to work on, Bacon focused on one end of the court in particular.

“Definitely defense. I’m trying to perfect the defensive side, I want to be one of the best two-way players to ever play the game,” Bacon stated. “I feel like I got the offensive side so just keep getting better on defense, I’ll be fine.”

Lack of consistency and defense are key factors that prevent many rookies from playing and being successful on winning teams right away. Based on Bacon’s size (6-foot-6, 221 pounds with a long wingspan) and physicality, he has the physical tools necessary to play passable defense. Combine that with his ability to score (he led the team in scoring in three of its five preseason games) and the unfortunate injury to Batum, it’s apparent that Bacon will get an opportunity to make the rotation and contribute.

Reliable two-way players on the wing are crucially important, but are not always readily available and are even less common on cheap contracts. The Los Angeles Clippers went through the entire Chris Paul/Blake Griffin era swapping small forwards on a nearly annual basis, struggling to find this kind of contribution from the wing. With little cap flexibility, the Clippers were unable to acquire a forward that could effectively and consistently play both end of the court, which caused issues over the years. As a second round pick, Bacon is set to make $815,615 in his first year. If Bacon is able to contribute at even a league average level, that will be a major boost for the shorthanded Hornets. Bacon is smart to focus on improving as a defender as Steve Clifford is a defensive-minded coach who will leave talented players on the bench if they aren’t making a positive impact on the defensive end of the court.

In fact, Clifford offered some strong simultaneous praise and criticism of Monk when it came to his scoring and defense.

“He can score, he can score, he can score [speaking of Monk],” Clifford stated. “I think his defense will come because he’s willing, he’s a good guy. I think that being a good player is very important to him.”

It’s apparent in Clifford’s comment that he values scoring, but that defense is also extremely important and essential to any player that wants to be a “good player.”

“He knows and understands that the way he has played in the past [in college], he can’t play in this league if he wants to be a good player,” Clifford said about Monk. “The big thing is, I told him, when people say, ‘he’s a talented offensive player’ that is a lot different than somebody saying, ‘he’s a talented NBA player.’”

Point guard Michael Carter-Williams also suffered an injury (bone bruise in his left knee), which received less attention than Batum’s injury. While Carter-Williams is not the same caliber of player as Batum, the Hornets are alarmingly thing at backup point guard. Without Carter-Williams, the team was going to lean on Batum to act as a playmaker more than he has in the past, which would have, at least in part, addressed the lack of an established backup point guard. But with Batum sidelined, Coach Clifford has given Monk time at the point guard position. If Monk proves capable of playing both guard positions and playing alongside Walker, that could go a long way towards mitigating the loss of Batum and Carter-Williams. It’s not reasonable to expect Monk (or Bacon) to produce as consistently as a seasoned veteran, but having them contribute at a league average level would constitute a big win for a Charlotte team with serious playoff aspirations.

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Teams Refuse To Back Down To Stacked Warriors

Golden State got better over the summer, but that didn’t stop others from trying to stop them from repeating as champions

Spencer Davies

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Opening week is finally upon us.

Appropriately enough, the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics will kick off the 2017-18 NBA season tomorrow night, as will the defending champion Golden State Warriors when they host the improved Houston Rockets.

The clear-cut favorites to win the league title are the ones who have done so two out of the past three years, and rightfully so. Warriors general manager Bob Myers has done a masterful job of assembling a juggernaut. They’ve kept their insanely talented core intact and—aside from Ian Clark and Matt Barnes—haven’t lost any of their key bench pieces to free agency.

In fact, Golden State has added to that dangerous second unit. Jordan Bell was bought from the Chicago Bulls and will bring another Draymond Green-esque impact almost immediately. Nick Young and Omri Casspi were brought in to fill the void of backup wings, which is an improvement at the position anyway. With the same roster as last year and better reserves to give the starters a breather, there’s no reason Steve Kerr and company can’t repeat if they stay healthy.

Knowing what the Warriors are capable of and how well they are set up to truly be a dynasty, there are some league executives out there who are hesitant to make significant moves that could potentially flop against such a powerhouse.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported back in middle June that select teams don’t want to risk a big play because of it. What that basically translates into is: We’re throwing in the white towel until that ball club disbands.

But luckily for fans and for parity’s sake, there was a handful of general managers that refused to take that path. Just looking down the list in the Western Conference, there were organizations that swung for the fences this summer.

The aforementioned Rockets are one of them.Daryl Morey pieced together multiple trades to allow him to land Chris Paul to play next to James Harden and form a dynamic backcourt tandem. Houston also signed a pair of veteran two-way players in Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker to provide depth and defense.

What about the Oklahoma City Thunder? Just when we thought Russell Westbrook’s MVP season was enough to maybe build off, the unthinkable happened. Sam Presti unloaded Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to Indiana after just one season with the team to add All-Star forward Paul George, who is in a contract year.

That blockbuster move was followed up with another two months later, as Presti decided to deal fan favorite Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott to the Knicks in exchange for Carmelo Anthony. The creation of a Westbrook-George-Anthony big three forms an elite trio that is determined to prove championship worthiness.

Top tier Eastern Conference counterparts did their due diligence as well. The Cavaliers and Celtics are essentially rivals and became trade partners in an attempt to re-tool their respective rosters, in addition to gaining important pieces outside of that.

Boston inked Gordon Hayward to a maximum contract to create a bolstered starting unit alongside Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Al Horford until madness happened.

Firstly, Bradley got moved in a swap with the Detroit Pistons for Marcus Morris to address the hole at power forward. After that—with reports of Kyrie Irving’s unhappiness in Cleveland swirling around the basketball universe—Celtics general manager Danny Ainge acted immediately and swung a deal for the All-Star point guard in exchange for his All-Star point guard, a vital member of his team in Jae Crowder and the coveted Brooklyn Nets first-round pick.

It’s almost a brand new squad, but Brad Stevens has a versatile group to work with to try and finally dethrone the conference champions of the last three years.

As for the East’s cream of the crop, the Cavaliers moves are well known because wherever LeBron James goes the spotlight follows. Thomas and Crowder were huge gets for first-time general manager Koby Altman, especially after the outside growing doubt in the franchise’s front office. The rookie executive was also instrumental in signing Derrick Rose, Jeff Green, and Dwyane Wade to veteran minimum contracts.

Rose and Green have plenty of motivation because their critics think they’re washed up, meaning Tyronn Lue won’t have to give them a reason to play their hearts out. Wade simply made the decision to come to Cleveland because he can play with his best friend and potentially add to his collection of championship rings.

Ante Zizic, Cedi Osman, and Jose Calderon are also now a part of the roster that all-of-a-sudden is now deep at almost every position. It’s a new flavor for a team that may have only one year left to compete for a title with James’ pending free agency next summer.

Those four teams feel great about their chances to get in the way of the Warriors. It doesn’t stop there though. The West in general loaded up.

The Minnesota Timberwolves executed the first big move of the year when they traded for Jimmy Butler. The Denver Nuggets signed Paul Millsap to provide leadership and a veteran voice in a young locker room full of talent. The San Antonio Spurs lost Jonathan Simmons but brought in a very capable Rudy Gay under-the-radar as Kawhi Leonard’s backup.

Nobody expected the league to completely fold and hand Golden State another championship, but it was surprising (and relieving) to see so many teams have the fortitude to pull off the moves that they did. There was definitely risk involved for some of them, however, one thing is for certain.

The Warriors will not have a cakewalk to the NBA Finals. They will have to go through a rigorous set of teams in the West throughout the regular season and the playoffs.

If any team is up to the task, it’s Golden State. But we’ll see how it plays out starting about 24 hours from now.

See you at tip-off.

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NBA League Pass Debuts for 2017-18 Season

NBA League Pass has launched for the 2017-18 season. Basketball Insiders has the details.

Ben Dowsett

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The NBA and Turner Sports have launched NBA League Pass for the 2017-18 season, with several new features and pricing options available. NBA League Pass, a subscription-based service, will be available to users across 19 different platforms, from television and broadband to tablets, mobile and a plethora of connected devices.

In addition, an important note: As of Monday, NBA League Pass subscribers who have already purchased their access through a TV provider (Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, etc.) are now able to link their account to the NBA’s streaming service at no additional charge. The link to do this can be found here.

Basketball Insiders has you covered with a breakdown of all the new details immediately available. We will also be bringing you a detailed breakdown of certain important technological areas later in the week.

Features

New or improved features of NBA League Pass include:

  • Improved video quality for streaming League Pass content developed by iStreamPlanet, a high-level video streaming entity working in partnership with NBA Digital. Included among these improvements are faster delivery time for live feeds, reducing notable lag time present in previous versions. More detail on these video quality improvements will be featured in our breakdown later this week.
  • A new premium package that includes continuous in-arena coverage, even during commercials. This allows fans to view team huddles, live entertainment and other venue features that make them feel closer to the experience.
  • A season-long virtual reality subscription package via NBA Digital and NextVR, available to all premium and traditional NBA League Pass subscribers (also available to international subscribers and single-game purchasers beginning in week two of the NBA season). Access will be available across Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream and Windows Mixed Reality.
  • Coverage of pre-game warmups and other in-arena events.
  • Spanish-language video coverage for select games, as well as Spanish-language audio continuing for select games.
  • NBA Mobile view will contain a zoomed-in, tighter shot of game action that’s optimized for mobile devices.

Pricing

Pricing for NBA League Pass has not changed for traditional access, and will remain at $199.99 for the full season. New monthly-based subscriptions are now also available, both for the full package and for individual teams. Full pricing will be as follows:

  • Traditional NBA League Pass (full league): $199.99
  • Premium NBA League Pass: $249.99
  • NBA Team Pass: $119.99
  • Single Game Pass: $6.99
  • Virtual Reality package: $49.99
  • Premium monthly subscription: $39.99
  • Traditional League Pass monthly subscription: $28.99
  • NBA Team Pass monthly subscription: $17.99

Notes

As previously reported by Basketball Insiders, upgrades are also expected on the TV side of NBA League Pass, particularly through Comcast, which has had the largest share of customer issues for this product in recent years. While only a single nightly HD channel was available via Comcast XFINITY League Pass previously, sources tell Basketball Insiders that all games will be available in HD through Comcast’s Beta channel package by the end of November (or earlier).

This Beta package does have limitations, however, including users’ inability to record, pause or rewind games. The package that was available in previous season will continue to be available until (and after) the Beta package is active, and subscribers will get access to both for no additional charge.

Check back with Basketball Insiders later in the week for a full rundown of the technological improvements being made to NBA League Pass.

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