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.
Marcus Smart, Guard
A hammer. Here to frustrate, to scrap, and even to flop if he deems it necessary. Will admit to it openly on national television. From an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump:
“Now, that’s a flop. Now, let’s get that straight. That’s a flop. I was the youngest of four kids so I had to learn how to get my way, you know? But to speak on the whole flopping situation, this was hilarious. I deserved everything that came my way after that, but I hear it all the time. Flopper. Flopper this. But like I tell guys and everybody, the only difference between me is—I flop on defense, your favorite player flops on offense. That’s the only difference, you know? And especially in a game where the offense has nothing but the advantage. Defense has to do something to get that advantage back. So, offensive guy can put his hands on you, touch you as much as he want, but the minute you touch him it’s a foul. So, you got to draw the attention to the officials to let them know that, ‘Hey, it’s working both ways, now.’”
He likes to wear a sweatshirt from his foundation that says “I LOVE BOSTON” and “BOSTON LOVES ME.” That seems to be true. Teaches the kids the hard lessons. He’s not interested in letting someone win. When you come into his paint, you need to be prepared to have your stuff sent. When you guard him, you need to be prepared to get dropped.
Jayston Tatum, Forward
Your 2019 NBA Taco Bell Skills Challenge Champion. From the LOU. Old Tatum Tot. As I think we are all aware, sometimes, you got to live más. Taco Bueno is better than Taco Bell in every way, and if you’ve never heard of Taco Bueno then I just feel sorry for you, you loser.
I always want to add an “s” to his last name when I say it out loud. A couple of seasons ago, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, he pokes one on LeBron halfway through the fourth. I find myself standing in my living room and screaming, “Tatums!”
I have a wife so I have no use for this anymore, but back when I was single, if I was really trying hard to impress a woman, my opener was always, “You know, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but improvement is not linear.”
He loves to laugh with his friends. He loves to design basketballs. Partnered up with Abercrombie & Fitch for that ball I just linked to and a limited-edition cologne called, and I would never lie to you, FIERCE. He wants you to be fierce, tap into your inner fierceness, take your shirt off, stand outside the Abercrombie in the mall, stuff your hands into the pockets of your jeans, try to appear comfortable. They went with #FACEYOURFIERCE as the hashtag, which is ridiculous sounding, but it is impossible for a pun to be pathetic so I salute him.
Brad Stevens, Coach
“Fellas, it’s great to have all of y’all back. I’m stoked for this season. Amped beyond belief. Tacko! Yes! Tacko in the house! Gentlemen, my dudes, I’m doing unbelievable. You didn’t ask, but my summer was fantastic. Tracy and I sent the kids to their grandparents, and we just got after it. Raged hard, you know what I’m saying? Got back into lifting. Got the funk out of me. Your boy’s yoked. Or I guess toned. You’d see it if I had my shirt off. Worked with my trainer, Dominic, to get my body right. We began with the end goal being Tom Cruise’s body in Knight and Day and, as you can see, mission accomplished. Pushing up a good 145 now.”
He flexed and took a drink of his milk.
“Had to take a look in the mirror, you know? Wasn’t happy with the way I performed last year. As a coach, I have to evaluate myself in the same way I’d evaluate each and every one of y’all, and I had to get better this summer. So, it was three-hour film sessions thrice daily, then at night Trace and I would head into the city, try to forget our names. Got loose. It was sick, guys. You would’ve loved it. Would love to party with each and every one of you someday. I’ll be sending a Doodle invite around to get a sense of your respective schedules and once there’s a time that works for you and for me we’ll put something on the books. I’ll promise you, fellas, it is lit as heck right now. Put together a mix for us to listen to while we get some shots up today, a selection of some of the hottest tunes of the summer, things Trace and I were hearing in the clubs. Got that ‘Old Town Road (Remix)’ with Thugger and Billy Ray and Mason Ramsey. Yippie-o ki yay. If you ain’t got no giddy up then giddy out my way. Let’s have a good first day of practice.”
Kemba Walker, Guard
A rabbit. Former member of the Charlotte Acid Washed Cargo Jeans. Was with them since the Bobcats days. Now he’s moved on to greener jerseys. He was a member of the 2018-19 All-NBA Third Team. Apparently that blindsided Mitch Kupchak and Co. I think the league might have passed Mitch by. He’s got to start avoiding microphones.
Walker’s been on a Fruit Gushers box. Have you been on a Fruit Gushers box? No? Then don’t talk to me. I have nothing to say to you. You’re boring and not truly successful. Fruit Gushers remind me of Dunkaroos. What happened to those? Once, after I’d thought they’d gone under, I found some at a Dollar General. That was several years ago. Now they’ve been disappeared along with the Clearly Canadians and Butterfinger BBs and the rest of my childhood snacks.
You can call him Kardiac Kemba. An 8 is just an infinity sign with good posture. He looks up to Starbury, stares longingly at his statue. Loves the game. Works on his all the time. Even took a basketball with him to the Great Wall of China, did some form shooting while he was there.
What was it Mr. Coach Klein said? Visualize and attack.
Enes Kanter, Center
I’m looking forward to the first Lakers-Celtics game he’s a part of. At what point does he try to get into it with LeBron? During warmups? Halfway through the first? I’m going to go with late second quarter. Celts are on a run. Game gets chippy. Crowd’s into it. There’s a tussle under the boards and they get tangled. T’s all around.
I don’t mean this in a good or bad way, but there’s not a chance he’s ever been invited somewhere—a party or dinner or something—and then said, “Who’s going to be there?”
He’s a big fan of cameras, microphones, himself. Not sure if you’ve heard but he’s not great on defense. Has a hard time moving his feet on that end of the floor. Gets attacked in pick-and-rolls with a fair amount of regularity. This is the in-depth analysis you pay top dollar for. Rebounds the hell out of the ball. A mad man on the glass. Will make Tatum and Brown and Walker happy, get them extra shots, and the Celtics extra possessions.
Tries hard to play the heel. Sometimes looks uncomfortable doing it. There’s a pretty extraordinary amount of youth pastor energy emanating off him about a hundred percent of the time. Or, if not youth pastor energy, he’s like the dad who plays ultimate frisbee with all the youth on Wednesday nights and is just way too into it. Knocks some of the seventh graders down, doesn’t apologize until five minutes after the fact. Addresses everyone as either brother or sister. Wears Sanuks all the time.