NBA teams have fans for a reason. Even the perennial bottom feeders have consistent fanbases that stick with them through thick and thin.
But what are those reasons?
Whether it's a specific player, a group of players, young talent, a tremendous dunker or even a superstar on the decline, each and every team in the league gives us a reason to root for them.
From the Atlanta Hawks through the Washington Wizards, read on to find out what those reasons are.
Who knows, you may even find yourself with a new team to cheer for whenever the NBA lockout ends and we have basketball to watch again. Speaking of the NBA lockout, keep in mind that this article is written under the somewhat faulty assumption that the 2011-2012 season actually happens.
Everyone likes to see money being spent responsibly.
Joe Johnson received a maximum contract offer from the Atlanta Hawks, one that he probably accepted without even batting an eye. Johnson is by no means a superstar, but he's being paid like one. While he may score upwards of 20 points per game year in and year out, the veteran leader of the Hawks has yet to actually help his team do anything in the postseason.
As soon as the Hawks signed Johnson to that contract, I realized then and there that the team was financially crippled and doomed to remain mired in upper-tier mediocrity.
If you root for the Hawks, you could root for that investment in Johnson to pay off.
If you like either veteran former superstars or up-and-coming point guards, this is the team for you.
Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are all approaching the respective ends of their NBA careers. All three have been incredibly successful. Allen has become the NBA's all-time leader in three-pointers made, Pierce has established himself as a Boston Celtics legend and Garnett has been a consistently great player on both ends of the floor.
The trio won one ring together in 2008, but you'd probably like to see them win one more before they break up either through some combination of retirements and trades.
On the other hand, you may just enjoy watching the ball-distributing wizardry of Rajon Rondo as well as his never-ending pursuit of something that may actually resemble a jump shot.
The Charlotte Bobcats have only been a part of the NBA since 2004 and they haven't exactly been a consistent model of success since their entrance into the league.
Only once have the Bobcats mustered a winning record during the regular season. The 2009-2010 campaign saw the Michael Jordan-owned team run its way to a 44-38 record and earn a playoff berth, but a first-round loss in the playoffs quickly spelled the end of their season.
If you want to root for the Bobcats, it would be because you wanted to see them end their near-decade of misfortune and ineptness. With D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker in the backcourt, there is some real talent here.
Obviously you want to see the continued greatness of the league's reigning MVP.
Derrick Rose broke out in a big way last season to the tune of 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. With virtually unmatched athleticism at the point guard position, Rose continued his ascent to the top of the NBA while leading the Chicago Bulls to the Eastern Conference's best regular-season record.
Remember, in his first season, back during the 2008-2009 campaign, Rose was named Rookie of the Year. During his second year in the league, the Memphis product became a first-time All-Star.
This past year, Rose made his second All-Star team, his first All-NBA team and was named MVP.
Anyone else excited to see what the encore entails?
Clearly you want to see if the Cleveland Cavaliers can fulfill Dan Gilbert's promise and win a title before LeBron James does in Miami.
It's actually looking like they're on the right track now after drafting Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson and trading the frustrating J.J. Hickson to the Sacramento Kings for Omri Casspi.
Irving, the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft, appears poised to become a superstar after a great, albeit short-lived, collegiate career with the Duke Blue Devils.
If you're patient enough, you may be able to watch this team morph into a contender again.
It's very possible that you fell in love with Dirk Nowitzki and joined the throngs of his faithful followers after his epic performance throughout the 2011 NBA playoffs. His mastery didn't just last one round, rather it existed throughout the duration of the postseason, culminating in a championship against the villains of the NBA.
Nowizki has always been a hard-working player with a knack for scoring the ball. It's going to be tough for him to carry an aging Mavericks squad to a repeat performance, especially with the targets now firmly affixed on his jersey.
But we've doubted Nowitzki throughout his career, often calling him overrated. The reality is, he's always been underrated. Why exactly can't he keep the success going again?
This team was a living, breathing testament to Bill Simmons' Ewing Theory last season. Quite simply, the Ewing Theory states that a team will actually perform better after a non-championship-winning superstar leaves the team and the media immediately dismisses them.
After Carmelo Anthony left the squad, the Nuggets inexplicably started playing better. Well, it's not inexplicable if you're a subscriber to the Ewing Theory.
Without a true star left on this team, you could root for any number of players as they take the journey towards attaining that celestial honor. Could it be Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried or Wilson Chandler?
Well first of all, Rodney Stuckey is begging you to become a Detroit Pistons fan.
The problem is, he's lost for words right now. After all, he and incoming rookie combo guard Brandon Knight are the best players that Detroit has to offer up to the fanbase.
So maybe you just want to root for an old power in hopes that they return to prominence? After all, the Bad Boys of the Pistons' golden days won back-to-back titles in '89 and '90. Maybe this team could eventually do the same.
Why wouldn't you want to root for the Golden State Warriors?
They have an offense that can only be described as one that you might see emerge from a video game.
Between Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis and David Lee, the Warriors always manage to light up the scoreboard. But then again, so does the other team...
If you like seeing a lot of buckets made in each game, this is the team for you.
No offense to the Houston Rockets fans out there, but there probably won't be too many people jumping on the Yao Ming-less bandwagon this year.
Incoming rookies Donatas Motiejunas, Marcus Morris and Chandler Parsons aren't exactly big-name stars yet and no player on the roster from last year is a huge ticket draw either.
If you really want a reason to watch this team play, here you go: Hasheem Thabeet is on it, so you have a chance to see one of the biggest NBA draft busts of all time in action. Although you may have to watch the D-League affiliate for that...
Perhaps you've been an NBA fan for a long time and you just want to give one of the most underrated stars in the league the credit he deserves.
Danny Granger has toiled away for the Indiana Pacers for quite some time now, hidden under the shadow of obscurity from the rest of the league. But this guy has every skill you could want in a basketball player.
Give Granger a chance to prove himself to you and I guarantee you won't be disappointed by what you see.
Nothing is more intriguing in the NBA than solid young talent and the Los Angels Clippers have an excess of exactly that.
Eric Gordon is quickly developing into one of the league's better shooting guards and should only continue to improve.
DeAndre Jordan may not be too well known at the center position, but I'd highly recommend remembering his name.
Then there's Blake Griffin. He's an incredible basketball player who is already one of the most exciting to ever play in the Association.
Add in the pair of rookies from the University of Georgia, Trey Thompkins and the high-flying Travis Leslie, as well as the rest of the up-and-coming roster, and you're looking at a team that could make the playoffs as soon as this season, ending an extended period of futility.
Two words: Kobe Bryant.
The Black Mamba is still one of the best in the game. You may be called a bandwagon fan for sure if you start rooting for the Lakers now, but it could possibly be worth it.
Bryant is a rare talent and the rest of the roster isn't too shabby. He's on a quest for his sixth ring and will stop at nothing to get it after being embarrassed by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA playoffs.
If you want to see greatness personified on the basketball court, you need to catch Bryant before his age starts to really catch up with him.
If you want to see the continued emergence of a superstar, then you need to make sure you turn into Rudy Gay's next campaign.
With Zach Randolph grabbing his rare misses in the paint, Gay is quickly becoming one of the better players in the league. After averaging 19.8 points, 2.8 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game during his fifth year in the league, the 24-year-old small forward is ready to take another step forward.
It's one step that you really won't want to miss.
Maybe you want to see this sign come true.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are arguable the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the NBA and Chris Bosh can be considered elite as well. There is talent galore on this squad, but they couldn't win in their first season.
Almost universally hated, the members of the Miami Heat underwent more drama than any other team in the NBA last season and still almost emerged with rings on their fingers.
Perhaps you believe that LeBron is misunderstood and really not the villain that everyone makes him out to be.
If Andrew Bogut could actually stay healthy this season, the Milwaukee Bucks could be a team to watch out for. The Australian center is one of the best in the league when he's on the court, but he isn't there too often.
If Brandon Jennings improves at the point guard position, Milwaukee could actually make some noise.
But we all know that the real reason to root for this team is so that you can yell out "Fear the deer!" at the top of your lungs without getting funny looks. The only other time that's permissible is when you're driving down the road and an actual deer runs out in front of your car.
You could root for the Minnesota Timberwolves because you want to see for yourself if much-maligned general manager David Kahn is actually putting together a team with potential.
Personally, I think he is, which means that either the world is going to end or I'm about to see pigs flying outside my window.
But with Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams, Wesley Johnson, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio on the squad, this team has some serious potential.
The most exciting thing about this team might be seeing what general manager Mikhail Prokhorov does next.
He's already announced a future move to Brooklyn and brought in All-Everything point guard Deron Williams.
That second part alone should be reason enough to become a fan. Williams is a joy to watch as he possesses every single skill you could ever ask for in a point guard. He's a good defender, a great ball-handler, a proficient passer and a terrific scorer.
Williams was actually the only player in the NBA to break both the 20 points and 10 assists per game thresholds last season.
The reason you want to root for this team is because it'll be your last chance to root for a good New Orleans Hornets squad for quite some time.
Chris Paul is the nucleus of this team; there's really no way around that fact. When healthy, CP3 is the best point guard in the league, bar none, not even our reigning MVP.
But Paul is only going to be with the team for a little while longer. If he doesn't get traded midseason, he will almost certainly depart for a larger market during the expect free-agency frenzy of the next offseason.
Watch 'em while you can still stand to.
The New York Knicks have always been one of the more popular NBA franchises, but ever since Isiah Thomas took over as general manager, they really haven't done much. Allan Houston, Eddy Curry and Stephon Marbury all brought nothing but grief to the team and the Knicks have yet to recover.
But that said, you could root for this team because there's hope, even though the team inexplicably brought in Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert during the draft instead of a player it actually needed.
Amar'e Stoudemire has brought his offensive talent to the city that never sleeps, as has Carmelo Anthony. With a solid group of guys around those two stars, Mike D'Antoni has a chance to build something special in New York within the next few years.
You better jump on board now before the bandwagon fills up next offseason when the Knicks look to add another superstar like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul to form their own Big Three.
There are too many reasons to root for the Oklahoma City Thunder to fit in a slide of reasonable length, so you'll have to excuse my listing here.
1. The continued emergence of two-time reigning scoring champion Kevin Durant.
2. Russel Westbrook's development into one of the best point guards in the game.
3. James Harden, Serge Ibaka and the rest of the young players' potential.
4. James Harden's beard.
If reason No. 4 isn't enough by itself, you need to go to the eye doctor immediately and either get glasses or see if your prescription needs to be changed.
Go back to the New Orleans Hornets slide and replace every Chris Paul reference with a Dwight Howard one.
That is all.
To save you the time, this is how it would read:
"The reason you want to root for this team is because it'll be your last chance to root for a good Orlando Magic squad for quite some time.
Dwight Howard is the nucleus of this team; there's really no way around that fact. When healthy, D-12 is the best center in the league, bar none.
But Howard is only going to be with the team for a little while longer. If he doesn't get traded midseason, he will almost certainly depart for a larger market during the expect free-agency frenzy of the next offseason.
Watch 'em while you can still stand to."
"The reason you want to root for this team is because it'll be your last chance to root for a good Philadelphia 76ers squad for quite some time.
Andre Iguodola is the nucleus of this team' there's really no way around that fact. When healthy, Iguodala is one of the best small forwards in the league.
But Iguodala is only going to be with the team for a little while longer. If he doesn't get traded midseason, he will almost certainly depart for a larger market during the expect free-agency frenzy of the next offseason.
Watch 'em while you can still stand to."
But while it's true that Andre Iguodala is the core of the 76ers right now, there is a lot of young talent on the team. Lou Williams, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday and especially Evan Turner are all just chock-full of potential.
I only included that above template to emphasize the greatness of Iguodala, who remains one of the more underrated players in the league. But there are reasons to root for this team even if Iggy leaves.
You want to watch this team because Steve Nash deserves to win a championship before his career is over and he's way too nice of a guy to ever demand a trade to a contender.
Nash, despite the fact that he's just three years shy of the big 40th birthday, remains one of the elite point guards in the NBA. A virtuoso with the basketball, the Canadian may be good at soccer, but he's absolutely terrific at finding open men on the basketball court.
A great three-point shooter as well, Nash is just a fun guy to watch as he and his long hair run down the court and lead a high-paced offense.
You want to watch this team so you can see LaMarcus Aldridge score on countless defenders as he leaves a wake of destruction in his path to a selection to the All-Star team.
Make no mistake about it, the fifth-year player out of Texas, was absolutely snubbed by voters last year. His 21.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game should have been more than enough to get him onto the All-Star roster.
But alas, Aldridge was forced to sit at home and watch as undeserving stars played in his place at the defenseless game.
This year will be different.
The youth of this team is absolutely astounding. The young guns on this team will be a blast to watch as they develop. I'm thinking of adopting them as my third-favorite team (behind the Atlanta Hawks and the Oklahoma City Thunder).
A healthy Tyreke Evans will lead the charge at point guard, although he may play shooting guard as well, as he looks to validate his historic rookie season. Joining him will be Marcus Thornton (if he re-signs in free agency), J.J. Hickson, Isaiah Thomas, Tyler Honeycutt and two players who I'm about to get to individually.
The first is DeMarcus Cousins, a big man destined to become a star. The Kentucky product, if I can call him that since he was a traditional John Calipari one-and-done, averaged 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game during a rookie season that was overshadowed by the greatness of John Wall and Blake Griffin. But make no mistake about it, Cousins, who improved every month, is a damn good player.
Then there's Jimmer Fredette. Love him or hate him, he's fun to watch. We'll finally found out if he can make it at this level after endless speculation.
The Kings are going to become must-watch T.V.
Much like the Boston Celtics, the San Antonio Spurs are a team to root for because you respect the massive amounts of work that the veterans have put into their basketball careers.
Tim Duncan is nearing the end of his time in the NBA after more than a decade of dominance that has seen him become arguable the greatest power forward in NBA history. Manu Ginobili likewise is slowly winding down, but he won't give up without a fight for one last title.
Tony Parker may not be quite as old, but his best days aren't exactly ahead of him.
The Spurs were one of the powers of the last decade, so you may want to root for them during their last year with a realistic shot at the title.
Here are 10 reasons to become a fan of the Toronto Raptors, all of which have to do with DeMar DeRozan.
Trust me, this video, called "DeMar DeRozan 2011 Top Ten Dunks," is absolutely worth watching.
DeRozan is a star in the making after averaging 17.2 points, 1.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game during just his second year in the league.
Don't miss out on his meteoric rise to the upper echelon of the NBA.
Here comes the Ewing Theory again.
After Deron Williams left the team for New Jersey, it's time to see if the Devin Harris-led Utah Jazz can show their former point guard that they can play without him.
Harris is an incredible talent when he can stay healthy and the rest of this team isn't too bad. I'm especially excited to watch Enes Kanter and Alec Burks play in the NBA since they were two of my favorite prospects going into the draft.
Plus, the Jazz's jerseys are pretty sweet, even if Jazz has absolutely nothing to do with Utah.
Other than the Los Angeles Clippers, the Washington Wizards may be the NBA's most exciting young team.
John Wall is destined to be a great point guard in the league. My fellow NBA Featured Columnist Andy Bailey even went so far as to claim that Wall will be the fifth-best player in the NBA in five years, better even than Derrick Rose and every other point guard in the league. Truth be told, I agree with him.
But that's not all that the Wizards have to offer.
Jan Vesely, Jordan Crawford, Nick Young and JaVale McGee (or Pierre?) have tons of potential and all play an exciting brand of basketball.
Adam Fromal is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer. Follow him on Twitter.