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.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Guard/Forward
The league’s reigning Most Valuable Player. Shares a birthday with Johnny Manziel and Judd Apatow. Does things regularly that make you rewind your television, watch the play again. Give him a runway and he will eat your world. At this point in his career he looks a pound or two lighter than Hulk and just as cut.
Some players are smart. They don’t jump. Some have seen too many movies, fancy themselves cowboys, heroes, try to deny him. That tends to go poorly. He took Kosta Koufos’s head off last year, poor guy. Did the same thing to Alex Len and Ben Simmons and Victor Oladipo and Mason Plumlee and Blake Griffin and Rudy Gobert and Mike Muscala and Boban Marjanovic and Gobert again and Marcus Morris and Luka Doncic and Jabari Parker and Taj Gibson and Plumlee again and Rodions Kurucs and Tristan Thompson and Bismack Biyombo and Jon Leuer. The Alphabet went and detonated on Leuer in the same state Leuer played college ball. It was positively disrespectful.
I look forward to watching him dunk from the 3-point line sometime in the next two years.
Kyle Korver, Guard
Hair so beautiful and glittery it’s like there are diamonds and chestnut-colored crystals threaded in there. Sometimes you can see shine lines floating up off it. Lustrous is what it is. It produces rays. It’s a wonder defenders don’t have to go full Antoine Carr when they guard him, don some M Frame Oakleys to deal with the glare. Last year in Utah, Joe Ingles would sit next to him in the locker room with his shirt off to try to get a little color in anticipation of beach season. It didn’t work. Ingles remains the color of sour cream.
Korver is reunited with Coach Bud and ready to catch and shoot as many 3s as possible. The Bucks are hoping he can do for them what he once did to them. Turn the clock back four years, back when Giannis was a pole and Jason Kidd was his coach and the Hawks had five All-Stars. I think this is called a shooting display.
I want to show some love to the future head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers for putting the Bucks in a 3-2 zone there. I look forward to seeing JaVale McGee at the point of that zone in, what, early January?
Korver’s downpour, though. Even in the midst of the 3-point revolution, those are moments very few dudes in the league can produce. He had multiple guys flying at him on the last couple, didn’t matter. If you look closely you can see smoke rising up off the net. Korver is not fully in the wash yet either. He can still get hot. This was last season.
This will be his 17th year in the NBA. He’s played with icons. Iverson. LeBron. Brian Scalabrine. He’s fourth all time in 3-pointers made and once made a three in 127 straight games. Let’s wind it down, go back to 2004, his rookie year, and his performance in the 3-point contest. Iverson looked on in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers throwback and Korver put on a show.
Brook and Robin Lopez, Centers
Brook and Robin Lopez at a Dave & Buster’s playing Time Crisis 3 for two hours. They soak their tickets in water so they weigh more when they put them on the scale, and redeem them for a remote control helicopter and 20 of those neon rope friendship bracelets.
Robin Lopez announcing ads as the voice of Harry’s on the many podcasts you listen to.
Brook Lopez discussing in great detail the ins and outs of the Cretaceous period. Who was hot? Who was not? What went right? What went wrong?
Brook and Robin Lopez screaming in each other’s faces during a game of GoldenEye. Robin plays with Boris. He likes his shirt. Brook plays with Oddjob. He always wins. Sometimes they’ll go head to head, slaps only, in the Soviet Missile Silo because they think it’s, quote, “the purest the game can get.” Things become contentious.
Robin Lopez at the customer support desk in a Best Buy losing his mind over the fact that nobody working there is well-informed on the intricacies of 4K televisions.
Brook Lopez playing paintball against a bunch of little kids and just absolutely annihilating them. He shoots them in their goggles and tummies and shins.
Brook and Robin Lopez doing Carl Wheezer impressions while the rest of their family opens Christmas presents. Brook and Robin Lopez having a great time in the water sports area at Costco. They do bits with the pool noodles, smack each other in the face, excite the customers. Brook and Robin Lopez strategizing their order off Chili’s two-for-$25 menu. Wound up going with the bottomless tostada chips, two orders of chicken crispers, and a molten chocolate cake for dessert. They take pictures with anyone who comes up to their table and asks, make fun of each other, talk about what they’d like to see DC Comics do with Pattinson as Batman.
George Hill, Guard
I might call him enduring. I might call him seasoned. Steadfast. Reliable. Staunch. This will be his 12th year in the association. Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis’s favorite son. A proud Jaguar. One of the most underrated Saturday Night Live sketches in history is the one when Will Ferrell plays Dr. Richard Laverne, a guy who claims he’s the spokesperson for the car company Jaguar. He wears an eye patch and an ascot and keeps asking Maya Rudolph, “Do you like luxury?”
Hill played his best basketball of the season during the playoffs last year. Milwaukee needed it. Eric Bledsoe was busy lighting himself on fire.
Let’s talk some more about hair. I miss the blond George Hill. In my opinion, it was the best George Hill. By best I mean sauciest. It’s important to me you know I’m being 100 percent sincere. There is no sarcasm present in any of these sentences. I think the look was awesome. You knew when you saw him you were dealing with someone fearsome, a man with a good sense of grandeur, a man at ease with himself.
Tyler Parker is a writer from Oklahoma.