For the first time ever, Toronto will serve as host of an NBA All-Star Game. Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver announced on Sept. 30—the 20th anniversary of Toronto earning an NBA franchise—that the Toronto Raptors had been selected to host the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, an event that will mark the first-ever time in the 65-year history of the game that it will be held outside of the United States. Noticeably present at the Air Canada Centre event was GRAMMY Award-winning rapper Drake, who was announced as the Raptors’ new Global Ambassador. A lifelong Raptors fan born and raised in Toronto, Drake will help to rebuild the team’s image in his new role.
Of course, Drake is not the first music mogul to play a high-profile role in shaping an NBA franchise. Jay Z famously played a significant part in the rebranding of the Brooklyn Nets franchise around the time of its relocation from New Jersey. Although Jay Z recently unloaded his stake in the Nets in order to open his own sports agency, it likely wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if he popped up at any of the events surrounding the 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend, which the NBA confirmed will be co-hosted by the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.
While the announcements of the future NBA All-Star Game sites is generating plenty of buzz, anticipation for the upcoming season has reached a fever pitch, with much of the excitement centered on players who very well may be playing in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, which is set to take place in New Orleans. Below are some of the top storylines to look forward to as the 2013-14 season draws near.
Dwight Howard to Rockets
In his first season with the up-and-coming Houston Rockets, Dwight Howard will look to re-establish himself as the top post player in the game when he teams up with superstar, James Harden.
The Return of Derrick Rose
After missing the entire 2012-13 season rehabbing a torn ACL, former MVP point guard Derrick Rose will make his triumphant return to the hardwood this season for the Chicago Bulls. As if fans weren’t excited enough to have Rose back, offseason workout partner Kevin Durant made headlines after an interview in which he noted that Rose has been looking great and backed the decision to take the year off.
New-Look Nets and Rebuilding Celtics
The Brooklyn Nets made the biggest splash of the offseason when they traded for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry, but only time will tell how first-year head coach Jason Kidd’s new threesome can mesh with the existing core of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Joe Johnson. Across the way, fans of the trio’s former team, the Boston Celtics, will have similar questions for their franchise as the Brad Stevens era plays out in Beantown with Rajon Rondo pacing the lineup.
Heat Chasing Three-Peat
While the Bulls and Nets will be much improved in the Eastern Conference, their path to the NBA Finals will still have to travel through LeBron James and the reigning champion Miami Heat, who will attempt to take home the franchise’s third consecutive Larry O’Brien Trophy.
New Rookie Class
After Portland Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard took the league by storm last year, 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and the rest of the first-year players will attempt to follow in his footsteps and become household names by season’s end. Check out results from the NBA.com Rookie Survey for a look at early favorites.