It's almost time for the 2013-14 NBA season to begin.
The NBA preseason is upon us, and while the games don't count for anything in the regular-season standings, there is plenty to be excited about.
The number of storylines are almost incalculable. The action will begin on Saturday when the Oklahoma City Thunder travel to Turkey to take on Fenerbahce Ulker at Ulker Sports Arena. Fenerbahce Ulker are the five-time Turkish league champions, but they aren't likely to see a lot of Kevin Durant or Serge Ibaka.
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks probably won't play his stars much in the first preseason outing. He's already without point guard Russell Westbrook after knee surgery, per ESPN.com, so the Turkish fans won't see the Thunder at full strength.
The stateside games also begin on Saturday. Here's a look at the complete schedule and viewing information for the first weekend of the NBA preseason. See the entire schedule at NBA.com.
Top Story Lines of the Preseason
Derrick Rose Back on the Court
Rose is expected to make his long-awaited return to the Chicago Bulls' lineup on Saturday, per ESPN.com. Don't expect him to log 30 minutes, but Bulls fans should be elated to see their star back in uniform. Chicago's preseason opener is in Indianapolis, which is a little under three hours away, so some rabid Bulls fans may be in attendance.
Still, we won't get an opportunity to hear the response the hometown faithful have for Rose until Oct. 16 in the Bulls' home opener. It is just a preseason game against the Detroit Pistons, but it'll mark Rose's first game on the Untied Center floor since he tore his ACL in April 2012.
Dwight Howard in Houston
The first on-court glimpse of Howard in a Rockets uniform should excite fans in Houston. D12 represents championship hopes teamed with James Harden and Chandler Parsons.
With Howard's back giving him issues over the past two seasons, the Rockets will likely take it slow with him early in the preseason. However, later in the exhibition season, his on-court time should be ramped up to establish more game chemistry with his new teammates.
Howard and the Rockets open against the Pelicans on Saturday.
How Healthy is Dwyane Wade?
It is a shame and a compliment that we have begun to take LeBron James' greatness as a given. Most fans just know that he's going to generate the highest Player Efficiency Rating and make an impact on both ends of the floor.
That said, in order for the Heat to win a third straight title, Miami will need Wade to be good-to-great. Wade was hobbled by a knee injury at the end of last season, but still managed to gut out a few big-time performances in the postseason.
Wade has undergone a rigorous training regimen in the offseason, per Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald. He is leaner and lighter than he has been in years.
Wade looks to be in fantastic shape. We'll likely get our first look at the more-fit Wade in the preseason. The Heat's preseason schedule begins on Monday.
Getting a look at each team's rookies is always a treat in the preseason. Most have much to prove and play with a sense of urgency despite the fact that the games are exhibitions.
No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett told Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling that he's pretty sure he'll be ready for the beginning of the season, although it is unclear whether Bennett meant the regular season or the preseason. Bennett had surgery on his torn left labrum in May.
Terry Pluto of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Bennett will in fact play for the Cavs in exhibition games.
Orlando Magic prospect Victor Oladipo hopes to continue the momentum he established in the summer league. The No. 2 overall pick established himself as a legitimate scoring threat and showed that he can play at point guard and knock down clutch shots.
Oladipo averaged 19 points and five assists per contest. He also drilled this game-winner:
The Sacramento Kings' Ben McLemore and Portland Trail Blazers' C.J. McCollum were also exciting summer league standouts who fans can't wait to see in action.
McLemore averaged 15.8 points per game in the Las Vegas Summer League. McCollum was also on fire, averaging 21 points. Those four players may battle each other for 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year honors. McCollum and the Blazers take on the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday while McLemore and the Kings battle the Golden State Warriors that night as well.
Magic fans will have to wait until Wednesday to see Oladipo debut against the Pelicans.
We all love new uniforms, right? Well, most of the time.
The New Orleans Pelicans (formerly the Hornets) not only have new uniforms, but also have a new name and some exciting new players. Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans join Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon on a Pelicans team that has a great chance to not only make the playoffs, but possibly garner a fourth or fifth seed in the Western Conference as well.
All eyes will be on the Pelicans' debut for those reasons when New Orleans opens against Houston on Saturday.
Summer League stats per NBA.com.
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