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The KeysTone Statement

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Four NBA Teams Pittsburgh Peeps Can Root For

Four NBA Teams Pittsburgh Peeps Can Root For

As an NBA enthusiast who is constantly trying to recruit my uninterested yinzer friends to watch games with me, one complaint I hear a lot is “The Warriors are just gonna win everything again.”

Yes, this year once again will most likely lead to a Cavs / Celtics vs. Warriors Finals with the Warriors winning, but that doesn’t mean the regular season can’t be fun. After all, it’s about the journey, not the destination, right?

Anyways, this off-season in particular saw a lot of younger teams take major steps forward in their rebuild. Yes, it’s hard to follow a team that’s not in your city, but there’s nothing more satisfying than getting on at the ground floor of a really good, young sports team. This is my guide for Yinzers who wanna get into the NBA to pick which bandwagon to hop aboard.


Philadelphia 76ers

Projected Starting 5:

As a dedicated "Process Truster" and Philadelphia-area native, I haven’t been this excited for a Philadelphia team since the heyday of the late 00’s Phillies. This team has an outrageous amount of young talent, with an exciting core of Fultz, Simmons, Embiid, Covington, and Dario Saric of which Covington is the oldest...at 26. The addition of the sharpshooting JJ Redick this offseason will finally give the Sixers a formidable starting lineup after 4 years of being Eastern Conference bottom-feeders.

If we’re being realistic, there’s a lot of uncertainty going into this season. Will Markelle Fultz be able to play off the ball next to Ben Simmons? Will Ben Simmons' inability to shoot render him ineffective in the NBA? Can Joel Embiid, for the love of God, please stay healthy?

But who wants to be realistic? Joel Embiid proved last year he’s a transformative player on both ends of the court when healthy, and he’s got easily the best social media presence in all of sports off the court. I will be accepting applications for Sixers fandom at the customer service booth of Whole Foods for any Yinzers who want to get into the soap opera that is the NBA.


 Photo credit: Brian Babineau

Photo credit: Brian Babineau

Milwaukee Bucks

Projected Starting 5:

The Milwaukee Bucks play basketball like no one else. For all the talk about the Warriors playing position-less basketball, the Bucks are the only team in the NBA that takes this concept to its absolute extreme. Malcolm Brogdon is fresh off winning Rookie of the Year as a point guard who hardly touched the ball. I can name two more deserving rookies from Philly last year, but I digress.

Which brings us to the real reason to watch the Bucks: the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Fresh off winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, Giannis is a 22-year-old superstar in the making. He’s the closest thing there is to another LeBron James in the NBA right now, basically playing point guard despite being nearly 7 feet tall. In any given Bucks game, Giannis is guaranteed to make you double take at least once, routinely dunking from just inside the free throw line and taking two strides to get from half court to the basket.

It’s not all Giannis though. Khris Middleton is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, and if Jabari Parker can stay healthy after recovering from yet another ACL tear, the Bucks will have a dynamic scorer to partner with the rest of their fascinating young team.


 Photo Credit: Rocky Widner

Photo Credit: Rocky Widner

Phoenix Suns

Projected Starting 5:

Last year, the Phoenix Suns rolled out the youngest starting lineup in NBA history at an average age of 21 years and 14 days. For some context, there was only one college team with a younger starting lineup that night. While having a young team doesn’t necessarily mean you have the makings of a good team, the Suns’ future is finally starting to come into focus. This team is filled with athletic freaks with enormous upside.

Josh Jackson, the 4th overall pick in this year’s draft, will be joining a team that already features blue-chip prospects like Marquese Chriss and Devin Booker. If you’re not familiar with Devin Booker, get familiar. He scored 70 points in an NBA game last year, and at 20 years old, he cannot legally drink.

The Suns lost Brandon Knight for this year due to an ACL tear this offseason. This will weaken their bench considerably, but they have no delusions about competing this year. This will give Tyler Ulis some time to shine. If Dragan Bender (by far the best name in the NBA) can start to show some flashes of what made him the 4th overall pick in the draft last year, this team could be really scary in a few years.


The Denver Nuggets

Projected Starting 5:

If there’s one team on this list ready to make a deep playoff run within the next 2 to 3 years, it’s the Denver Nuggets. After unleashing Nikola Jokic as a point center last year, the Nuggets found their superstar. Most casual NBA fans are not familiar with the Serbian star known as “the Joker,” but he might already be a top 25 player in the league as a 22-year-old. The Nuggets roster also sports talented young guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris perfectly tailored to Jokic’s bizarre ability to put passes on the money from anywhere on the court.

The Nuggets biggest acquisition this offseason was All-Star and basketball swiss-army knife Paul Millsap. While any team could use a player like Millsap, he fits perfectly on the Nuggets. He does a little bit of everything, but he’s particularly disruptive on the defensive end, where the Nuggets will struggle this year.

Even if they don’t make their big splash this year, the Nuggets will be very fun to watch. With two of the best passing big men in Jokic and Millsap, their shooters are going to be sprinting in circles trying to get open for their highlight passes. Watch out for Juan Hernangomez to take a big leap this year as well.

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