Special Edition: The greatest reality show in sports

The NBA is back, baby ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Special Edition

From The Gist Team

Oh, hey there!

After yet another whirlwind offseason, the NBA is officially back in action with tonight’s juicy doubleheader. So, in classic GIST fashion, today’s newsletter has everything you need to know about the upcoming season. Because ball is definitely life.

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Quote of the Day

Quote

I’m scouting horses.

Denver Nugget Nikola Jokić

Denver Nugget Nikola Jokić after teammate Jamal Murray asked the reigning Finals MVP what he was doing on his phone during training camp. Hope he neigh-ver changes.

The Breakdown

⚙️ The set-up

Source: Michelle Farsi/Getty Images

The NBA is evenly split into two conferences with 15 teams in the Eastern Conference (EC) and 15 in the Western Conference (WC). From there, three five-team divisions make up each conference. In the EC, it’s the Atlantic, Central, and Southeast, while the WC has the Northwest, Pacific, and Southwest.

  • Each team plays 82 games (41 at home and 41 away) from October to April, with all 30 teams in action on April 14th, the final day of the regular season.

After the regular season comes the playoffs. The top six teams in each conference automatically qualify, while the seventh through 10th ranked teams will compete in a play-in tournament for the final two playoff spots in each conference. Here for the drama.

This season will also feature the inaugural NBA in-season tournament, aptly named the NBA Cup. Added to the schedule to engage fans and teams in the early portion of the regular season, the tourney begins November 3rd, starting with Group Play followed by sudden-death Knockout Rounds.

  • All in-season tournament games count towards each team’s regular-season standings, except for December 9th’s Championship. And with a whopping $500K on the line for each player on the championship squad, there’s plenty to play for. Cha ching.

🏆 Reigning champs

Source: Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The WC’s Denver Nuggets won their first franchise championship in dominant fashion last season, beating the EC’s Miami Heat in just five games. Even more impressive? The Nuggets are in prime position to do it all over again, anchored by the aforementioned Jokić, Murray, and Aaron Gordon.

  • And though the Joker might prefer to be racing horses, the two-time regular-season MVP is flirting with becoming the first center in league history to average a triple-double, coming up a mere 0.2 assists short last season. He is him.

But parity is the name of the game as of late: A different squad has taken home the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy in each of the last five seasons. Fun fact: Six different champions over a six-season span has only happened once before and not since 1980.

💪 The contenders

Source: NBACentral/X

🦌 Milwaukee Bucks: After snagging seven-time All-Star Damian “Dame Time” Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers this offseason, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced YAH-niss ah-det-oh-KOON-boh) has never been this open, and that’s a scary thought for the rest of the Association. Fear the deer, indeed.

☀️ Phoenix Suns: Looking for firepower? Look no further than the Suns and their revamped roster (and ’fits). After picking up Kevin Durant last season, the squad traded for former Washington Wizards juggernaut Bradley Beal to round out their superstar trio alongside Kendall Jenner’s ex Devin Booker.

🍀 Boston Celtics: While some things have changed — big man Kristaps Porziņģis now calls the Hub home — others remain the same, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (who signed the richest contract in NBA history this offseason) back for another round.

  • Add in two-time All-Star Jrue Holiday and anything but a championship run will be a disappointment in Beantown. Pressure makes diamonds.
Together with State Farm

🏆 Near, far, whenever you are

Source: State Farm

Still thinking about A’ja Wilson’s dominant performance in the Las Vegas Aces’ WNBA Championship win? Same. Like a good neighbor, Wilson was here, there, and everywhere, serving up reliable rebounding and protection in the paint.

  • Wilson gave her squad the full-court coverage they needed to bring home the hardware, similar to how longtime WNBA sponsor State Farm ensures women’s sports receive the coverage they deserve. Count (on) it.

👀 Storylines to watch

Source: Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Offseason moves: Drama is the NBA’s middle name, meaning the aforementioned Lillard, Holiday, and Porziņģis aren’t the only big names donning new threads this season.

  • Former Boston Celtic Marcus Smart packed his bags for the Memphis Grizzlies, while the ring-chasing Chris Paul joined the Golden State Warriors, sending former Warrior Jordan Poole to the Washington Wizards in the process.
  • But the biggest name still swirling the trade rumor mill is James Harden, whose summertime soap opera continues to cast a shadow on the Philadelphia 76ers’ upcoming campaign.

The future is now: The young guns are making their mark on the league with a record-tying three players aged 25 and under — Tatum, Dallas Maverick Luka Dončić, and OKC Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — being named to the All-NBA First Team last season. The kids are definitely alright.

  • And then there’s French phenom Victor Wembanyama, who is entering his rookie season with the San Antonio Spurs. The 7’4” Wemby is must-watch TV, defying physics one euro step at a time. The hype is very much real.

Elder millennial magic: On the other end of the spectrum, LA Laker (and the NBA’s all-time scoring leader) LeBron James enters his 21st NBA season and will turn 39 in December, making him the NBA’s oldest active player. And not only is the King still hooping, he’s dominating, leading the purple and gold to the Western Conference Finals last season.

  • The years keep coming for other NBA All-Stars, too. The perennial postseason powerhouse Golden State Warriors are fuelled by millennial magic from 35-year-old Steph Curry and 33-year-olds Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Age really is just a number.

📺 How to watch

Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It all begins tonight with the defending champ Nuggets hosting the Lakers at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by a battle in the Bay Area with the Suns visiting the Warriors at 10 p.m. ET. So ready for tip-off.

The GIST's Picks

Here’s what has The GIST team currently hyped:

🔥 What to reference

NBA LockerVision. With 124 different uniforms ready to be worn across all 30 teams this season, know what threads your fave team will be rockin’ in advance.

🎧 What to listen to

Legendary basketball journalist Jackie MacMullan’s podcast Icons Club, which explains the evolution of NBA icons through every era, in their own voices. AP U.S. History but make it basketball.

🎨 Who to check out

Montréal–based artist Samantha Woj, who uses sports equipment to paint incredible pieces of art. One of her most recent subjects? The aforementioned Gilgeous-Alexander.

👀 What to keep up with

Pickleball, the fastest growing sport in the world, with the help of The Dink’s free three-times weekly newsletter. It really is a big deal dill.

Fun and Games

Take Your Pick

LA Lakers logo At Denver Nuggets logo

LA Lakers

Denver Nuggets

+184 To Win -220

Now that you've got all the scoop for the upcoming hoops season, who do you think will win tonight's Western Conference Finals rematch?

LA Lakers

Denver Nuggets

Sports Betting Guide

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