March Madness is right around the corner, NFL free agency marches on, and spring training is in full swing just weeks ahead of the start of the MLB season.
In other words, the NBA is on the back burner for most sports fans, and for good reason. There's just a month left in the regular season before the spectacle of the playoffs, where a Warriors-Cavaliers Finals rematch becomes slightly less likely each day.
Yet there are five potential scenarios that could play out over the next month that would thrust the NBA front and center ...
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Stephen Curry turns into "The Old Steph"
Everyone's waiting, Mr. Two-Time MVP.
With KD on the bench and the Warriors reeling, eventually Curry has to bust out his old, explosive act from last season, right? We saw a brief glimpse of it on Tuesday night, as Draymond Green inspired his point guard to start roasting the lowly 76ers.
Golden State has 15 games left this season. Two of those are against the Rockets, and one is against the Spurs. If Curry can somehow bring back "The Old Steph" and leads the Warriors to a 13-2 record for the final stretch of the season, he might even enter the conversation for the MVP — and watching people wrap their minds around that would make Curry's whole up-and-down year worth it.
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Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose sabotage the Triangle Offense
The NBA thrives on drama — and no team provides a steadier dose of theater than the New York Knicks.
Phil Jackson's team is dedicating itself to the Triangle Offense once again, much to the chagrin of New York's stars. So now, we're rooting for Melo and Rose to say to hell with the triangle and run things their way instead.
Coach Jeff Hornacek would probably be on board, and what's the worst that could happen? Is the Zen Master going to try to trade Anthony? Been there, done that. Is he going to release Rose? That's already on the docket for this summer. And as for Hornacek? We're guessing he wouldn't be heartbroken if the Knicks paid him to go away.
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The young Lakers unleash themselves with the vets benched
Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng had better be outstanding leaders in the locker room because LA's two big-money free-agent additions of last offseason are both done for the year on the court.
The Lakers are turning the team over to D'Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and the rest — and if we're lucky, those young Lakers will show out over the final month of the season.
Imagine the reaction across the NBA landscape if Luke Walton's squad starts reinventing "Showtime": running up and down the court, playing with joy, getting buckets, and maybe even winning a game or two along the way.
Hope is in short supply in Los Angeles these days. Just a little taste would be enough to re-ignite an increasingly depressed fan base.
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Russell Westbrook dips below a triple-double average
To be clear, we're rooting for Westbrook to finish the season with a triple-double average.
We're also rooting for him to fall below a double-digit assist average in the next week or two, just so we can see how the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard might respond. Would he just keep playing his game, letting the stats come as they may?
Or, as we suspect, would Westbrook shift to an even higher gear, average 30-15-15 over the final month of the season and seize the title of 2016-17 MVP once and for all?
Yeah, that one sounds more like the Westbrook we know.
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LeBron James suffers a major injury
Okay, yes — this would suck.
No one wants to see anyone injured, least of all the indestructible angel of war that is LeBron James.
Yet there's no denying that a season-ending injury to LeBron would send the NBA into chaotic upheaval.
Let's be honest: the Cavs could be without Kevin Love for the entire postseason and still win the Eastern Conference. They could lose Kyrie Irving and still be favored to make the NBA Finals, as well.
Either injury would affect the Cavs, to be sure, but neither would doom Cleveland. In fact, I'd still pick the Cavaliers to win the East without one of Love or Irving.
But if LeBron goes down, it's game over in The Land — and game on for the rest of the NBA.
BONUS SCENARIO: Kobe Bryant comes out of retirement
You groan. You laugh. You shake your head at the ridiculousness.
But you'd watch. You would ABSOLUTELY watch — especially if he ditches the Lakers for a contender and a shot at a sixth ring.