I was trying to enjoy a calm and panic free afternoon, but yesterday I slipped up and pressed play on a YouTube video titled “Isaiah Hartenstein (42 points) Highlights vs. Texas Legends.”
Why on earth would I spend any amount of time watching some big lug score 42 points in a G-League game? Because it’s basketball sicko season, baby.
NBA free agency has been open for a few days now, and the annual tradition of players, both consequential and definitively not, moving about the league has turned my brain ill. I’ve spent hours sitting in silence, delving into the darkest corners of my mind palace so that I may construct various five-man lineups that my favorite team, the Denver Nuggets, might be able to run out when the season starts. I have given serious consideration to what the departures of Torrey Craig and Jerami Grant will mean for Michael Porter Jr.’s transformation into a star. I’ve wondered what sorts of mismatches could be mined out of giving Bol Bol minutes at small forward. I have thought long and hard about how three-guard lineups featuring R.J. Hampton, Facundo Campazzo, and Monte Morris might attack opposing second units. I’ve envisioned Hampton using his speed and long limbs to become a perfect cutter to pair with Nikola Jokic. I’ve even dared an attempt at convincing myself that losing Grant and Craig won’t hurt too much, because P.J. Dozier has always secretly been the best perimeter defender on the team. I have, as you already know, watched Isaiah Hartenstein score 42 points versus the Texas Legends. I have refused to consider Paul Millsap.
I bring you this information not as a warning, but as a form of encouragement. Now is the time to become utterly deranged when considering the makeup of your favorite basketball team, and to savor that derangement right up until the season officially starts next month. Whether through the addition or subtraction of key players, your team has given you so much to consider during this condensed offseason. Type the name of every player on the 15-man roster into the Twitter search bar and see what comes up. Scour YouTube for highlights from Division II college games and various European leagues. Think long and hard about Sekou Doumbouya.
Do not be shy! Text your friends as soon as you have settled on the ideal 10-man rotation. Ask them what they think about the shooting mechanics of various late first-round picks. Please, speak to me about these things as well. If you do, I will tell you all about Vlatko Čančar.