In lieu of a traditional franchise-by-franchise NBA preview, we asked Tyler Parker to give us five players to watch on each team. If we want. For reasons entirely his own.
Bradley Beal, Guard
You can find him in the Tissot Style Lounge. The third picture he ever posted to Instagram is a drawing he did of Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Daffy Duck. It’s pretty good. It went up in December 2012. He made sure to mention #notrace in the caption. If I hear the word “trace” now I only ever think about The Office and Michael showing up to Pam’s art show at the end of “Business School,” how he’s shocked she did all her stuff free hand. “My God, these could be tracings.” Beal is probably the better basketball overall player, but is Michael Scott the better shooter? He hit big shots at key times against the warehouse. Jim wore a pair of Reebok Answer 3’s during that pickup game, had Roy grabbing at air. Beal idolized Iverson, too. Let’s go back to Instagram. On July 13, 2017, Beal posted an image of A.I. clapping his hands, and the text on the photo said: “I loved AI because he always had a chip on his shoulder, always wanted to play hard.”
Beal’s got a tattoo of Jesus on his left pec. Christ overwhelms his chest and looks to be crying. Brad’s wallowing in a purgatory he doesn’t deserve. I don’t blame Washington for trying to keep him. I don’t blame him for wanting to stay. Still, would be fun to see him playing in May.
John Wall, Guard
We’re a long way from Word of God. People still talk about his high school mixtape. I’m one of them.
If you’ve never watched it, it’s up there with anything A24’s doing right now. In transition he looks like an eagle, a soaring and holy ram of great renown on his way to the middle of the basketball zeitgeist. What a difference 10 years makes. Now he has—and we can open the floor up to everybody here, shout it out—the worst contract in the league. The Wiz have him on the books for $171 mil over the next four years. That’s a long time in NBA years and that’s a lot of money anywhere. He’s deep into rehab for a torn Achilles and has a body that’s heretofore been made of glass. It would seem to have all the structural integrity of a bag of potato chips.
Rui Hachimura, Forward
Japanese Jordan. Find a better nickname. You ca—well, I guess it’s not that hard. Dr. J. The Hitman. Butterbean. Still, Japanese Jordan’s pretty unbelievable.
I used to own a pair of Gonzaga basketball shorts I bought out of an Eastbay during the height of America’s love affair with Adam Morrison. My dad wears them around the house now. My parents would never let me subscribe to Eastbay. I had to look at it while I pooped at my friend Jared’s house. He got Slam, too. One time his older brother Josh got so angry with him for slurping his cereal he punched a hole in the hallway closet door. Josh tried to cover it up with the Slamadamonth of Nets-era Vince Carter putting one in on Josh Smith. This was, like, two Hawks rebrands ago? Back when Atlanta was wearing those jerseys they were wearing when Sheed played his one game there. We’re even more off topic than usual.
Hachimura might be a thing. ESPN NBA draft analyst Mike Schmitz screams out “physical specimen!” and “shredded frame!” and “he’s comfortable pushing off the break to get his own!” The first Japanese player to ever be drafted in the first round of the NBA draft. Has a 7-foot-2 wingspan and baseball gloves for hands. He uses them to mash on Myles Turner.
Thomas Bryant, Center
This is the best big in the league. I know that’s a pretty obvious statement, but the more words I type the more money they pay me. The most dominant young big since Young Shaq? Sometimes I confuse him with avalanches. He inundates a defense with problems. Wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him put up averages of 37, 14, 7, 6, and 4. You figure his shooting splits will fall somewhere around 64/41/87. He’s a fireball around the rim. His shot charts look like a flaming peach inside the lane. If I’m redrafting the league I’d hem and haw over him or Giannis at the 1-spot but ultimately I’d go Bryant and feel great about it. I’m a little confused and don’t understand gambling that well but I’ve been scouring the internet for the better part of 10 minutes and for the life of me can’t find a single website that even has MVP odds listed for him. If you’re into that sort of thing I’d dial up whoever you got to dial up and put something down on the man. That’s found money. Congratulations on the new beach house. Get good homeowner’s insurance. The world is dying.
Davis Bertans, Forward
Davis Bertans is a nobody. He has nothing going for him, is a bad basketball player, and a worse human being. There’s not enough time in the day to explain to you the depths of his insignificance but for starters he has a bad smile and a dumb face. He thinks he’s better than everybody. He’s not. He’s not funny. He’s not special. He’s not cool. He’s tall, sure, but he’s not jacked or anything. We’re not dealing with Michelangelo’s David here. This is a soggy flab of ham. A real chump. He’s selfish. He dresses weird. He smells bad. The human equivalent of a dress vest. What a zero. Have no idea what my ex sees in him.
Tyler Parker is a writer from Oklahoma.