With Dwight Howard and Steve Nash now aboard, it's time to see what this new-look Los Angeles Lakers team can do. It's also time to see if Andrew Bogut changes the fortunes of this Golden State Warrior team, although it's unlikely we see him on Sunday night. .
This NBA Pacific division matchup pits two teams who have playoff aspirations against each other, although the expectations are very different for the Lakers than the Warriors.
L.A. is supposed to contend for a title this season. Adding two marquee players to their already talent-laden lineup of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol has poised them to enter into the conversation with any team in the league.
Golden State, on the other hand, has expectations of their own, but with a different level of disappointment should those expectations not be met.
With a young nucleus and the addition of Bogut, the Warriors are completely different from the team that scores 120 and gives up 150, which was their brand just two seasons ago.
Mark Jackson has transformed this squad into competitors, and ridding themselves of Monta Ellis for Bogut might be the best trade in franchise history, should Bogut stay healthy and the projections on Klay Thompson stay true.
Here's a look at when and where to watch the game on Sunday night, and some key storylines to watch out for in this early season warmup game between two of California's best NBA teams.
When: Sunday, Oct. 7 at 10:00 p.m. ET
Where: SaveMart Center, Fresno, CA
TV: Time Warner Cable SN (check local listings)
Radio: ESPN 710
TWC SportsNet (@TWCSportsNet) October 7, 2012
Steve Nash Debut; Dwight Howard Sidelined
The keys to the L.A. offense will be given to Nash early and often, as reported by ESPN LA's Ramona Shelburne.
Nash allows Mike Brown to step back into that player-friendly role that made him such a great coach in Cleveland, allowing him to focus on defense and game-planning since he has multiple NBA MVPs in his starting backcourt.
Dwight Howard, recovering from a back injury, has been doing some light work in practice but has been ruled out of the preseason opener. He's targeting the regular season opener for his purple and gold debut.
Stephen Curry Injury Prevention?
We may or may not see the smooth shooting guard tonight, per Marcus Thompson II of MercuryNews.com.
Coach Jackson is being careful with Curry after his ankle problems during his first two seasons, not wanting to put too much stress on his star player before the regular season begins.
This is a big year for Curry, who has looked like a borderline star at times in this league, only to be wiped out by injury and a lack of touches in the Monta Ellis-heavy offense.
Which new player are you excited to see the most?
Now, with a traditional lineup and some lofty expectations, Curry will run the point guard position exclusively. It's his job to get Bogut, David Lee, Harrison Barnes and Thompson involved, and he might be the X-factor in determining this team's postseason fate.
Kobe Bryant's Ankle
Reports out of L.A. have Bryant practicing on Saturday after missing the Friday session, and it looks as if Kobe will be there for his new buddy Nash's debut.
He experienced some discomfort in his right foot during Friday's practice but came back with a full day on Saturday.
Questions of Bryant's durability with Nash as his backcourt mate will likely be the only weakness to grasp on to for the new duo. If either has health problems, this Laker team suddenly looks more average than we envision on paper.
Look for Bryant to play limited minutes (10-15) before giving way to Jodie Meeks and the young guards on this L.A. roster. Brown has a mess to sort out behind Bryant, and he'll need all of these preseason games to evaluate how to do so.