Saturday, December 2, 2023

Five reasons to follow the new NBA season

This 2023-2024 season will be a bit different in NBA history. After the first coronation of the Denver Nuggets last season, the cards are redistributed and several favorites will be there. Two young French people, among the greatest talents of recent decades, will also discover the NBA and certainly shine there this season. A new competition will appear, and the legends of this sport will once again be on the floor, perhaps for the last time for some. Here are five reasons to follow this new NBA season, which promises to be unlike any other:

To witness the first steps of the Wembanyama phenomenon

The French prodigy, number 1 in the Draft, arrives in the NBA with an extraordinary status: he is seen as the greatest talent to join the league since LeBron James. But can we expect miracles from him in his first season? Like the other French prodigy, Bilal Coulibaly, drafted by the Washington Wizards, he will first have to definitively get used to the American rules: longer matches of 15 minutes, a farther 3-point shooting line, more space in the racket… Measuring 2.24m and with exceptional technique and shooting for his size, he has already completed his range by expanding physically: he has gained “4 to 7 kilos”, by his own admission.

The 19-year-old Frenchman is not afraid of the expectations that surround him: “I will approach the NBA next season with a lot of humility because I know that it is another dimension. I am preparing myself technically and psychologically, in particular watching the matches and my future opponents,” he confided to Forbes this summer. He is in the ideal team to grow, Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs: a weak team in recent years, but with a young squad and in an environment where pressure will be less. And “Wemby” does not lack ambition: for his first season, he declared that he was aiming for “a qualification for the playoffs”, which the Spurs have not experienced for four years. Before taking France to a title at the 2024 Olympic Games?

To discover the new NBA Cup

The NBA has been thinking about it for many years, it is now a done deal: the first edition of the NBA Cup will be played in November, with the final phase in Las Vegas in December. This new competition could well bring a necessary breath of fresh air, with tough matches, with higher stakes than those of the regular season. The NBA Cup, loosely inspired by European football competitions, excites Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors: “It will add an element of excitement for the players, coaches and fans.”

This sort of “national cup” with American flavor will have a particular formula: the 30 franchises will be divided into 6 groups of 5 teams, which will compete only once each. The first in each group and the two best runners-up qualify for the quarter-finals, which will be a single-match knockout, like the semi-finals and the final, in early December in Las Vegas. The group stage will take place in November at the same time as the regular season.

To find out who will succeed the Denver Nuggets

Crowned last season, the Denver Nuggets left their mark: with an impressive team, they won their first NBA title by beating the Miami Heat 4 wins to 1 in the Finals. Led by Nikola Jokic (MVP 2021 and 2022), but also Jamal Murray or Aaron Gordon, they have managed to keep their executives and will be among the favorites for their own succession this year. But the competition will be tougher than last season.

The Boston Celtics are also scarecrows, led by Jayson Tatum and with the ambitious recruitment of Jrue Holliday and Kristaps Porzingis. They are also the favorites of bookmakers. The Milwaukee Bucks, champions in 2021, will be the third favorite, with Giannis Antetokoúnmpo still at the top and the addition of star Damian Lillard to bring a solid collective. Finally, outsiders like the could join the fight, like the Golden State Warriors or the Los Langeles Lakers of LeBron James, for a beautiful farewell.

To admire, perhaps one last time, LeBron James on the floors

He is one of the sacred monsters of this sport. Having become the best scorer in NBA history last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, he suggested, after losing 4-0 against the Nuggets in the conference finals, that he could end his career. King James finally decided to extend the adventure, and this year he will be the oldest player in the league, he who will be 39 years old in December.

But at the end of the year, he will be at the end of his contract, and nothing says that he will activate the clause which allows him to extend this lease for another year. This season could therefore well be LeBron James’ last. He has four MVP titles, four NBA titles (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020) for which he was elected MVP of the Finals each time, but also two gold medals at the Olympics with the United States.

To enjoy the NBA Paris Game 2024

The NBA returns to France, and you should not miss this exceptional gala match at the Accor Arena in Paris-Bercy on January 11, 2024. After the Charlotte Hornets and the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020, the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons in 2022, it will be the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Brooklyn Nets who will face each other in 2024 in Paris. It was not the San Antonio Spurs who were picked, as Victor Wembanyama had not yet been drafted at the time of the matchup pick.

We will therefore have to wait to see Wemby in France in an NBA jersey, but the two selected teams have something to dream about. The Nets have a renewed but young team with an attractive Spencer Dinwiddie – Ben Simmons duo, and the Cleveland Cavs are still mourning LeBron James but made the playoffs last year, led by Donovan Mitchell. Like two years ago, places will be sought after for this unique event, including among French stars from other sports.


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