With the 2012-2013 NBA season just over the horizon, casual fans and bona fide hoop heads alike are jonesing for their NBA fix.
If an NBA enthusiast is willing to put forth a little effort in researching the myriad changes various teams have gone through, he or she can get a good idea of potential bandwagons it would be wise to jump on early.
Luckily for you, my dear readers, I've aggregated the five hottest bandwagons in the NBA you should force your way onto now before they get overrun by fair-weather NBA fans and the equivalent of Boston Red Sox "pinkhats."
Without further ado, here are the five bandwagons in the NBA you should attach yourself to right now to avoid the rush.
If you want to talk about bandwagon, Brooklyn is the perfect place to begin.
They have a new hometown, a new arena, a slew of new players and your run-of-the-mill half-crazy Russian playboy billionaire owner.
They rolled the dice on giving promising-but-injured center Brook Lopez a mammoth contract extension. They made the decision to take on one of the largest, and some would argue worst, contracts in the league quicker than you can say Kerry Kittles.
True, the package given up to give Deron Williams an all-star caliber backcourt mate in Joe Johnson was a plate of veritable bat guano, the financial crunch alone Brooklyn and owner Mikhail Prokhorov will feel because of it will be significant.
With the significant time, energy and rubles invested into completely making over the former New Jersey franchise New Jersey Governor Chris Christie bade good riddance to, all eyes will be on the new-look Brooklyn Nets when the season opens.
I'm very confident most of those peepers will linger on Deron Williams and company for the majority of the season.
That blaring siren you hear in the background is nothing to be concerned about. It's just the Homer Alert signal.
Yes, I'm a lifelong and unapologetic Jazz fan, so I may look at the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket through rose-colored glasses.
But I'm more confident in Favors' rapid ascension to the upper echelon of post players, especially on the defensive end, than I am in anything else on this slideshow. I watched nearly every minute Favors played last yer, and a trained eye could tell Favors was JUST starting to really "get" the game of basketball at the NBA pace.
Mark my words, dear readers. Before the end of 2012, the name Derrick Favors will be on the lips or in the consciousness of every NBA fan out there. The Dwght Howard comparisons will start coming in, quickly followed by scoffs at the comparison by Favors skeptics.
You're right, Favors haters. Derrick Favors is not Dwight Howard.
Favors is a kind, soft-spoken kid,not a wishy-washy goofball desperate to please everyone lacking the constitution to thrive sans universal adoration.
Talent wise, Favors isn't to Howard's defensive level yet, but he' getting there. Offensively, he's shown much more effort than Howard at improving his offensive efficiency and perpetually adding to his offensive repertoire.
All aboard the Derrick Favors' train! Get on now before every last Tom, Dick and Harry belatedly hitches a ride after Favors' defensive numbers continue to balloon.
There was no overnight transformation of a Pacer from human player to superhuman superstar, no rash of bad fortune to all teams around them and no new, gimmicky offense to "blame" for Indiana's unexpected success.
It was simply hard work, talented players playing together that extracted every last drop of talent and production he could get out of his players.
Sure, it doesn't hurt to have one of the better big men in the league holding down the frontcourt fort, and Danny Granger and the rapidly-ascending Paul George are no slouches of swing men.
But the bottom lie is this: Indiana's success was not a fluke, and is very much repeatable.
To top it off, Indiana should easily reign supreme over one of the worst divisions in basketball, the Central Division. With Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland coming off lottery campaigns, and with Chicago missing their franchise point guard Derrick Rose for a significant portion of the season, the Pacers have few obstacles between them and a great playoff spot.
Seats on the Indiana Express will go fast, reserve yours now!
A devastating knee injury curtailed what appeared to be Rubio's coming-out party moonlighting as his rookie season.
After the much ballyhooed Spanish superstar suffered a torn ACL, it seems the Ricky Rubio bandwagon was abandoned en masse.
Your humble writer feels very good about predicting a Ricky Rubio career resurgence. His first year was his Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch year. In 2012-13, Rubio is ready to go full Mark Wahlberg all over the NBA.
Luckily for Rubio, his arms are in no way directly connected t his ACL, nor are his eyes.
This means Rubo's two greatest assets, his unparalleled court vision and dazzling passing ability, should not be too dramatically offended. Even without a 100% recovery from the injury, Rubio can still be a very effective NBA player.
Rubio will be more than effective; he'll vie for a spot on he Western Conference All-Stars.
The Ricky Rubio Bandwagon is sponsored by Real Madrid.
Currently, the Toronto Raptors bandwagon is only populated by a few friendly but rabid Canadian NBA fans, the rapper Snow, some actual snow and a 12-pack of Molson Ice.
Yes, the buzz surrounding the Raptors this year is slight, if not non-existent But despite flying under the radar, the Raptors have a lot going for them; namely, a few new valuable toys to play with.
First, the Raps acquired disgruntled point guard Kyle Lowry from the Rockets. Lowry is an immediate upgrade at the point for Toronto, especially on the defensive end.
Draft pick Jonas Valanciunas will make his NBA debut this upcoming season, and will be a key factor in determining how are the Raptors go.
I, for one, have Toronto getting one of the final two playoff spots i the East and taking whoever they play in the first round to the absolute limit, if they don't outright win it.
A ticket to the Raptors bandwagon is $24.95, but that's in Canadian dollars, so that only equates to...well, use your currency conversion on your iPhone if you're really that curious.