Oh, baby! The 2013-14 NBA season is nearly here! The optimism of 30 separate media days is wafting into the air like that time New York City smelled like maple syrup. Every player has either lost or gained 15 pounds — whichever works best — and the league's most injury-prone players are all feeling great, thanks for asking! No one is tanking, or "skipping steps," or neglecting their franchise "culture." Dwight Howard is talking about shooting 75 percent on free throws. Giddyup!
We never stop thinking about the NBA, but it's time to sharpen our focus on the 2013-14 season. That starts here, with a look at the 10 players I'm most curious-slash-excited to watch this season. I've tried to steer away from the obvious, which means minimizing the presence of both superstars and second-year players with drool-worthy skill sets. We're all excited to watch LeBron James, Jonas Valanciunas, and Andre Drummond. JaVale McGee is a permanent art exhibit at this point. The goal is (mostly) to highlight players whose degree of short- and long-term improvement could define the half-decade arc of a franchise, semi-known commodities operating in new contexts, and straight-up unsolved mysteries.