Welcome to Hoop Dreams, a season preview unlike any other you’ll read before the 2016-17 season tips off. The premise is simple. We’ll be providing 30 of these fictional forays because it simply stinks that only one team can win the title each year. The list of contending teams seems to shrink with each campaign, and we wanted to provide something to those fans who only get to dream of Larry O’Brien during the offseason. Before October, every team can win the NBA title. Don’t believe us? Then keep reading. – Ed
It’s late June of 2017 and Lance Stephenson is sitting in a hot tub filled with gumbo. Accompanying him in the tub are a trio of Bourbon Street strippers — all blond Asians with unusually large hands (like most men of voracious appetites, Lance has a type) — and the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Just a few hours earlier, the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Cavs in game 7 of the NBA finals when Lance drained a wild, double-pump three from thirty feet at the buzzer, rather than passing the ball to two teammates who were wide open at the time. Whatever, the shot went down, and that’s all that matters. Lance will never pay for a heavily sugared hangover bomb of a drink in this town ever again.
Few people thought this was possible. After all, the team lost defensive stalwarts Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon to free agency in the offseason. Tim Frazier was the team’s starting point guard on opening night. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday were expected to miss the first few months of the season. The team looked terrible in preseason action. The future did not look very bright for the Pels. But they somehow pulled off a miracle. Here are five reasons why:
1. Backup center Alexis Ajinca finally got a nickname worthy of his French heritage — “the Big Croissant” — and it inspired him to take his gangly, hilariously awkward game to the next level. Ajinca’s new nickname also inspired him to take his trash-talking game to another level, whispering French-y things into the ears of opponents like, “La quiche de votre femme est humide et délicieux.” (Translation: “Your wife’s quiche is moist and delicious.”) Never underestimate how ruffled a man can get when hearing another man talk about his wife’s *quiche.*