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During the season, fans have to live with what is, but the NBA offseason is a time when anything is possible and all your dreams may come true.
The 2021-22 season is over. The results are finalized and though debates may continue about what it meant and signified, nothing concrete can be changed. For the 2022-23 season that lies around the corner though, anything is still possible. Some things are more likely than others, but there is no limit to what fans may imagine and hope for during the NBA offseason. It is an exciting time, one where your favorite team could be anything at all, even the next NBA champion.
Last week was the NBA Draft, which is ultimately a night for dreaming. That high-level prospect your team drafted? Well, they could be the next great superstar, a transformative franchise player who will carry your team for years. That late first-rounder or second-round pick that no one was that excited about? Maybe they’re a real diamond in the rough — the next Jordan Poole, or even better, the next Nikola Jokic. They probably aren’t, but for one night, belief is the number one currency around.
Perhaps your favorite team has not signed a marquee, game-changing free agent in years, maybe even decades. Well, this is the chance to imagine someone wanting to join your squad, the joy you would derive from watching them, and the wins they would bring. Sure the disappointment that comes when nothing ever really changes isn’t fun, but that’s no reason to stop yourself from feeling a modicum of hope and joy before the sweeping curtain of reality falls.
There are no limits to what could happen. Maybe the Jazz will retool and trade Rudy Gobert to the Warriors where he will help Golden State work towards another title. Maybe the Wolves will move on from D’Angelo Russell and move more fully into the Anthony Edwards era. Maybe the Sixers cut bait on the James Harden and Joel Embiid pairing after failing to make the Conference Finals in their first postseason together. Maybe John Wall will return to his old form on the Clippers and partners with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to be the best trio in the NBA.
You can prioritize fantasy over reality during the NBA offseason
None of these things are likely to happen. I would be surprised if any of them did. But I have seen or heard at least one person speculating (if not fantasizing) about each one of these scenarios. It’s a combination of hope, desire, curiosity, and desperation for something to talk about, but there is nevertheless something tantalizing about the infinite possibilities that proliferate during the offseason. For some, it may be disappointing as they winnow into one reality as the season approaches.
Perhaps you are a fan of the New York Knicks. For over two decades, the team has disappointed, only making it out of the first round once since 2000. There’s no real reason to expect this is the year that will change. But who cares! You can imagine whatever you want! Maybe that long-sought marquee free agent will finally be lured by the siren song of Madison Square Garden. Maybe an established star will demand a trade to New York. Maybe Julius Randle will regain his All-NBA form and maybe Cam Reddish will put it together and maybe R.J. Barrett will take the leap and maybe Immanuel Quickley is the new John Starks. The Knicks may not turn out to be truly back this year, but for now, in your mind, for these next few months, they can be!
For six months, fans are forced to face the brutal reality of what their team is. There are 82 games and while each has its fair share of joys and delights, but when a team is bad, the losses accumulate and the final scores are anything but ambiguous. For those contests, your team is what it is — either a success or a failure, and if it is a failure, there’s little consolation that can be found in that moment. In the offseason though, your team can be anything. During this time, the Kings do not have to be the team with the longest active playoff drought; they can be the team of the future, if only you squint and believe and have enough irrational hope.
Your team may not be all it could be next year. Odds are they will disappoint you quite often, blowing leads and games they shouldn’t. But those problems are in the future, and for now, they are only potential let-downs. For now though, they can be whatever you want to be. The only limit is your imagination and your willingness to be disabused of your potentially foolish hopes down the line. Only one team will hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy next summer — why not imagine it will be yours?