Discover more from Marc Stein
The NBA season starts in eight days
Please allow the Tuesday Newsletter Extravaganza to explain
You did it!
You have (nearly) made it all the way through a miserably hot summer to the brink of the NBA's 78th season.
(PS — I'm allowed to keep whining about the weather as a Texas resident.)
It starts in eight days, on this scorecard, because the Dallas Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves will hold their first sanctioned practices of the new campaign on Sept. 27.
Practice gyms leaguewide, in truth, are already buzzing with activity, since many players typically start making regular trips to team facilities right after Labor Day. As mentioned a few times by now, Oct. 3 is the first date that The Other Twenty-Eight teams will be officially allowed to practice as a collective for the first time, but I'm making the bold declaration that the new season shall be deemed underway as of next Wednesday when the Mavericks and the Timberwolves are on the floor, taking advantage of league rules that allow teams with preseason games abroad to start nearly a week early.
Personally I'm in the last throes of what passes for recharge mode, as I attempt to pull off every September, writing 2-3 times a week while mixing in some travel hooky before the NBA mayhem resumes its usual 24/7 speed.
I also wanted to share that, with the assistance of loyal subscriber Dave Purcell, I am assembling the first survey (COMING SOON!) in the history of this Substack. To the best of my increasingly spotty memory, I've never curated a survey of any kind, so I'm eager to test out the format.
A request in the interim: If you have any ideas for a smart survey question or two, throw them in the comments section below. I want to make the maiden edition as thorough (and yet manageable) as possible.
We repeat: You're almost there.
It won't be long now before #thisleague is really back.
You did it!
The Stein Line is a reader-supported newsletter, with both Free and Paid subscriptions available, and those who opt for the Paid edition are taking an active role in the reporting by providing vital assistance to bolster my independent coverage of the league. Feel free to forward this post to family and friends interested in the NBA and please consider becoming a Paid subscriber to have full access to all of my posts.
As a reminder: Tuesday editions, on this and every Newsletter Tuesday, go out free to anyone who signs up, just as my Tuesday pieces did in their New York Times incarnation.
Regular readers know that one of my favorite pastimes whenever I get a chance to escape the North Texas summer is to document how NBA items are marketed and displayed for consumers in other countries.
A sojourn to Tel Aviv delivered some surprises, most notably at a New Era shop. Hats offered (and pictured) that I did not expect to see in this particular mall outpost: Memphis, Milwaukee, Charlotte and Utah. Strangely absent from the racks in these two pictures: Deni Avdija's Washington Wizards.
The Lakers and the Bulls, meanwhile, stand out in both pictures and featured prominently in any NBA sale selection pretty much anywhere else I looked. More than 25 years since Michael Jordan last played a game in Bulls colors, Chicago's overseas popularity remains so strong. (I must note that in the below picture there is an Avdija knockoff uniform set for kids that earned first-in-line placement ahead various Jordan and LeBron James offerings.)
PPS — This last photo obviously has nothing to do with basketball, but the Ocean Pacific nostalgist within me could not stifle the excitement of seeing this fresh merchandise so readily available for purchase:
We shall see, in 13 days, whether Philadelphia's James Harden indeed reports to training camp. Media Day is Oct. 2 for 28 of the NBA's 30 teams, meaning that Portland is also down to 13 days to find a trade for Damian Lillard or start the season with Lillard still on the Trail Blazers' roster.
FIBA's world rankings are based on the past eight years' worth of games for every national team, enabling the United States — with two Olympic gold medals in that span — to rise from No. 2 to No. 1 despite losing three of its final four games at the recent FIBA World Cup.
Tournament winners Germany moved from 11th to third in the rankings, adding the World Cup crown to its third-place finish at the 2022 EuroBasket. Reigning EuroBasket champions Spain, who also won the previous World Cup in China in 2019, dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 after failing to reach the quarterfinals in its title defense.
There are 49 players this season who will be classified as "stars" and who are thus subject to the league's new Player Participation Policy, which applies to players who were named to an All-Star team or an All-NBA in any of the previous three seasons. The full list as compiled by CBS' Sports James Herbert:
Atlanta: Dejounte Murray and Trae Young
Brooklyn: Ben Simmons
Boston: Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum
Charlotte: LaMelo Ball
Chicago: DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vučević
Cleveland: Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell
Dallas: Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving
Denver: Nikola Jokić
Golden State: Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Chris Paul and Andrew Wiggins
Houston: Fred VanVleet
Indiana: Tyrese Haliburton
LA Clippers: Paul George and Kawhi Leonard
Los Angeles Lakers: Anthony Davis and LeBron James
Memphis: Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant
Miami: Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler
Milwaukee: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton
Minnesota: Mike Conley, Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns
New Orleans: Zion Williamson
New York: Julius Randle
Oklahoma City: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Philadelphia: Joel Embiid and James Harden
Phoenix: Bradley Beal, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant
Portland: Damian Lillard
Sacramento: De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis
Toronto: Pascal Siakam
Utah: Lauri Markkanen
How many stars does your team have? Golden State and Minnesota, according to the above list, lead the league with four each.
The Timberwolves' Rudy Gobert claimed the final slot in the FIBA World Cop's rebounding top 10 at 8.3 boards per game. The Knicks' Josh Hart led the United States with 5.3 rebounds per game.
Latvia guard Artūrs Žagars, who intrigued NBA scouts after entering the tournament as a free agent and helping his country achieve a stunning fifth-place finish, has signed a three-year contract with storied Turkish club Fenerbahçe. Zagars, 23, averaged 7.4 assists per game during the tournament and has been loaned by Fenerbahçe to Lithuanian club BC Wolves for the coming season.
Readers in the Dallas area — or those who want to listen online — can catch me live for an hour on Saturdays talking NBA on 97.1 The Freak. The Saturday Stein Line debuted on July 1 and can be found via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
The Stein Line is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, please consider becoming a Free or Paid subscriber. Many, many thanks to everyone who has already joined our community to contribute to and fortify this independent endeavor.