Top 10 Players To Watch For On NBA’s Opening Night
10 Players You Should Watch On NBA's Opening Night
The NBA is known for its drama, but the 2013-14 season could just be the most action-packed campaign yet!
In fact, there are so many interesting things to watch this year that it took nearly three NBA experts to trim this list down to 10. Thankfully, all of the research has been done as we all prepare for what should be an NBA season to remember. Naturally, the fun all starts with the opening tip and this year the regular season begins in a state that knows a thing or two about the game of basketball.
As fate would have it; the Indiana Pacers kick the 2013 season off as they play host to the Orlando Magic, who despite a rough season in 2012 actually have a surplus of talented players. Nonetheless, the spotlight in this game will be on the Pacers as they came just one win shy of reaching the NBA Finals last summer. Paul George signed a five-year contract in the off-season, which easily cements him as the face of Indiana basketball from this point forward.
Hopefully it's a title that George can own as the Pacers really need this play-making small forward to play big in 2013.
Opening night is always a blast as it almost always features the World Champions from the year before in front of their home crowd. This year, the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy resides in the American Airlines Arena where LeBron James the Miami Heat will enjoy a shiny box of rings.
Not excited yet? Well, luckily there are 10 more NBA players that are sure to make your jaw drop on NBA's opening night.
Honorable Mention: Doc Rivers
Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers go on the road to face the Los Angeles Lakers in what will be Rivers' first game as the head coach of the Clippers. Now, this isn't a true road game as the Clippers and Lakers actually share the Staples Center. While Rivers is no longer a player, he was traded this off-season by the Boston Celtics, so he definitely deserves a spot somewhere on this list. It should be interesting to see how Rivers reacts to the Los Angeles fans who enjoyed the "Lob City" era.
No. 10 NBA Player to Watch: Chris Paul
From one LA superstar to the next. Paul is my preseason choice for the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award this season, so let's hope he gets off to a fast start versus the Los Angeles Lakers. Also, this will be Paul's first regular season game since signing a long-term contract with the Clippers this off-season. Once again, it will be interesting to see how "CP3" reacts to the "Lob City" era coming to a close.
No. 9 NBA Player to Watch: Chris Kaman
"Who the heck is Chris Kaman and what is he doing on this list?"
I know this is a bit of a curveball, yet it's going to be nice to see how Kaman fares as Dwight Howard's replacement in Los Angeles. Kaman comes over from the Dallas Mavericks where he saw his usually impressive numbers take a big-time dip. With that being said, let's also see how Kaman meshes with Kobe Bryant, who Kaman said he has always hated...things might get awkward for the Lake Show.
No. 8 NBA Player to Watch: Paul George
You don't think Paul George belongs on this list? Well, the Indiana Pacers think he's good enough to to warrant a five-year contract worth $90 million, so he's good enough to make my list. In fact, George could very well be the leading scorer of opening night considering he's facing a depleted Orland Magic team that likely won't put up much of a fight in 2013.
No. 7 NBA Player to Watch: Blake Griffin
"Another Los Angeles Clipper?"
Yes, and the reason Blake Griffin is on this list is because the 2013-14 season will be his fourth year -- first year excluded -- in the league, which is usually the time when good players become great. At this point in his career; I would call Griffin the most overrated player in the NBA without question. However, he has a new coach on the sidelines, which could help Griffin mature into the all-around player that many believe he can be.
No. 6 NBA Player to Watch: Danny Granger
It's not a Derrick Rose-sized return, but Danny Granger is making quite the comeback this season. Granger only played in five games last season and the Pacers were still only one win away from capturing the Eastern Conference Title! Hopefully the addition of Granger can help Indiana surpass Miami, but Indiana's game versus the Orlando Magic is going to be the first step for Granger, who is also entering a contract year.
No. 5 NBA Player to Watch: Greg Oden
Well, it's a similar but unique story for the one and only Greg Oden.
The former first-overall pick is now with the Miami Heat, who have been searching for a defensive stopper since the "Big Three" banded together way back in 2010. Everyone will be watching Oden on opening night as the once-promising center has only played 82 games since being drafted into the league over six years ago. This should be a big test for Oden as he will be matched up on All-Star center Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls come opening night.
No. 4 NBA Player to Watch: Victor Oladipo
The Orlando Magic are hoping Victor Oladeipo lights up the scoreboard against the Indiana Pacers. After being a highlight-reel player in college, Oladipo now suits up for the Magic in what will definitely be a rebuilding year for the folks in Orlando. Without a ton of talent alongside him, Oladipo must be willing to take the ball to the basket as the Magic lack scorers. Let's see how this rookie fares against a defensive menace like Paul George of the Pacers.
No. 3 NBA Player to Watch: Kobe Bryant
While Kobe Bryant could very well miss opening night, it's also pretty likely that the one and only "Black Mamba" returns for the Lakers' first game against the crosstown rival Clippers. Keep in mind that Bryant doesn't have a contract with the Lakers past the 2013 season, which means this opening night could in fact be Kobe's last in Purple and Gold. Lastly, this is a must watch considering it will be the first regular season game that Bryant has played without Dwight Howard since the 2011 campaign.
No. 2 NBA Player to Watch: LeBron James
With three MVP Awards and two Championship Titles in the last four years, it's safe to say that LeBron James is surely a must-watch player as he heads into his 11th NBA season. Not to mention, James has a player option at the end of this season, which means this opening day could in fact be his last with the Miami Heat. Also, this is the first time that James has squared off against Derrick Rose since April 12, 2012.
No. 1 NBA Player to Watch: Derrick Rose
This was an easy one.
The last time Derrick Rose was playing a meaningful game Dwight Howard was still on the Orlando Magic and LeBron James had a normal hairline. Now, the long-awaited return for Rose finally happens as the Chicago Bulls' fan base can once again enjoy its number-one superstar. Of course, this won't be an easy task for Rose, who has had troubles in the past when it comes to getting the best of LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Another thing to keep your eye on with Rose is the amount of minutes that hard-nosed head coach Tom Thibodeau decides to play the Chicago point guard on opening night.
One thing is for certain; all 10 of these NBA players are going to make opening night an absolute spectacle. Enjoy!