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Who are you rooting for?

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More importantly, who should you root for?

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA season is back. After 141 days on the sideline due to the coronavirus, there will be live NBA basketball tonight, from inside the bubble at the Disney Resort in Orlando.

The Golden State Warriors are not there. They’re one of eight teams that was too far outside of the playoff picture to get an invite.

But Warriors fans will still be watching, because basketball is still basketball, and it’s beautiful.

So who should they be rooting for? Let’s take a look at the reasons for and against the teams competing for the title, to see who you should be cheering for.

The favorites:

Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

There are three teams that are clear favorites to win the title: The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks. Here’s how I’d rank them, in reverse order of desire:

3. Los Angeles Clippers

Why you should root for them: Umm ... because they’re no longer the easy-to-hate squad that had Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan? Because Lou Williams made headlines by breaking quarantine to get famous wings from a famous strip club?

That’s all I’ve got.

Why you should root against them: Most Warriors fans still consider the Clippers rivals of sorts. For years the teams jockeyed for position to win the title of most dysfunctional team in the league. Then they briefly jockeyed for position to win the actual title.

If you can get rid of the rivalry thing, the Clippers are actually an incredibly easy to root for team. But Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are also on two-year contracts, and it’s hard to imagine them leaving in 2021 if the Clippers have won a title.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Why you should root for them: They have JaVale McGee and Quinn Cook! Good enough reason for me.

Why you should root against them: Most Warriors fans dislike LeBron James, which is fair given the rivalry that he nearly singlehandedly developed against the Warriors.

You don’t face a player in four straight NBA Finals, while he goes against your favorite players in the media, and makes one of the most memorable plays in NBA history in a Game 7 without developing some ill will.

So I would guess that most Warriors fans would flip-flop the Clippers and Lakers here. But, at the risk of angering all of you, I like James, so win one for JaVale and Quinn.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Why you should root for them: Outside of Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo might be the most lovable superstar the league has seen in decades. If you don’t love Brook Lopez, something is wrong with you. Khris Middleton is wildly underappreciated. And markets like Milwaukee aren’t supposed to win NBA championships.

Why you should root against them: If you have any stake in the Giannis-to-the-Bay rumors, you want the Bucks to disappoint. You emphatically don’t want them to win a title, and getting upset in the semifinals again would be ideal. Anything to make Antetokounmpo think that he can’t win a title in Milwaukee.

Poll

Which of the favorites are you rooting for?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Los Angeles Clippers
    (44 votes)
  • 17%
    Los Angeles Lakers
    (27 votes)
  • 53%
    Milwaukee Bucks
    (82 votes)
153 votes total Vote Now

The contenders

Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

While the Clippers, Lakers, and Bucks are the favorites, I count six other teams who I believe can win a title if things break right: The Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, and Toronto Raptors.

Apologies to the Utah Jazz (missing Bojan Bogdanovic), Oklahoma City Thunder (too thin), and Dallas Mavericks (too young).

Here’s how I’d rank those six:

6. Houston Rockets

Why you should root for them: LOL are you serious?

Why you should root against them: LOL are you serious?

5. Boston Celtics

Why you should root for them: Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart are awesome.

Why you should root against them: Everything else about that team is wildly annoying.

4. Philadelphia 76ers

Why you should root for them: The Sixers are an oddly likable team. Joel Embiid is awesome, even if he annoys most people. Ben Simmons is awesome, even if he annoys most people. Al Horford is awesome, even if he’s overpaid. Tobias Harris is awesome, even if he’s overpaid.

Why you should root against them: They’re also super annoying for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on.

3. Denver Nuggets

Why you should root for them: Nikola Jokic is an easy to love star, and Mike Malone spent two years as an assistant coach with the Warriors. They play exceptionally fun basketball, and there’s not much to dislike.

Why you should root against them: The Nuggets are still a tier below the elite teams in the West. They’re not on the Lakers and Clippers level, and they’re not on the level the Warriors were on last year, even if they fought Golden State for the top seed.

If the Nuggets win a title, it’s because they took a leap forward into the conference’s upper-echelon. That’s bad news for a Warriors team that has visions of contending in 2020-21.

2. Miami Heat

Why you should root for them: The Heat have Andre Iguodala, and Warriors fans love Andre Iguodala (even if he embarrassed himself in an exchange with the Washington Mystics Aerial Powers). Jimmy Butler might be the most annoying player in the league depending on where you’re sitting, but he also might be one of the coolest. He’s certainly fun to watch. Bam Adebayo is perhaps the easiest All-Star in the league to root for (non-Klay Thompson division). They have fun shooters like Devin Robinson and Tyler Herro. They’re just fun.

Why you should root against them: Iguodala and Butler could singlehandedly piss off the entire world before breakfast. You know that if this team won a title it would be the most annoyingly arrogant champion in NBA history.

1. Toronto Raptors

Why you should root for them: Sure, the Raptors just beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals a year ago, but has a team ever lost a championship and had less ill will towards the team that beat them? There’s zero bad blood between the two teams. The Raptors core of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka is wildly easy to like, something that was only further proven when they berated their own crowd for cheering Kevin Durant’s injury.

Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby are awesome. Patrick McCaw’s there, for better or for worse. Chris Boucher is there. Their style of basketball is fun, and watching them stay at the top of the East despite being written off after Kawhi Leonard’s departure has been a joy. What a fun story it would be if they won a second title after losing a superstar.

Why you should root against them: If you’re one of the Warriors fans who dislikes Toronto for beating Golden State, then that’s a pretty good reason.

Poll

Which of the contenders are you rooting for?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Boston Celtics
    (14 votes)
  • 23%
    Denver Nuggets
    (32 votes)
  • 2%
    Houston Rockets
    (3 votes)
  • 25%
    Miami Heat
    (35 votes)
  • 12%
    Philadelphia 76ers
    (18 votes)
  • 26%
    Toronto Raptors
    (37 votes)
139 votes total Vote Now