The theme of this year’s ESPN The Magazine NBA Preview is POWER. Stemming from an offseason in which the narrative was all about the struggle for power, The Mag sought to capture that through three unique lenses: “The Third Coming of Derrick Rose,” and how his return has the potential to shift it in the Eastern Conference, if not the NBA; through the “Ultimate Power Player” Kobe Bryant, and how his lone-wolf approach to superstardom has served to undermine his Lakers team; and senior writers Pablo S. Torre and Tom Haberstroh reveal the “Power Grab“ that the NBA’s owners are attempting to make by utilizing a host of advanced and increasingly invasive tests on their players. Even within the team previews, The Mag has identified that it is not offense that creates wins, it’s defense—and using new, metrically based graphics has brought team defense alive on the court in a way that could never be done before.
On The Cover
Former MVP Derrick Rose has played a combined 49 games over the past three seasons. He’s undergone surgery for an ACL tear in one knee and a torn meniscus in the other. He’s watched his Chicago Bulls lose in the playoffs three times, twice in the first round. But now, with the Miami Big Three era over and two healthy knees, the power vacuum in the NBA is his for the taking. In “The Third Coming of Derrick Rose,” The Mag’s Wright Thompson explores if – and how – one player can shift the league’s balance of power (even with a new Big Three in Cleveland).
NBA Preview Show
To coincide with its release, The Mag will televise an hour-long NBA Preview Show on Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Host Cassidy Hubbarth will join analysts Tim Legler, Bruce Bowen and ESPN NBA Insider Chris Broussard to provide predictions and analyze key NBA storylines in advance of the new season. Additionally, the show will feature roundtable discussions centered on the aforementioned “power” themes of the issue, including key off-season moves and developments, the new balance of power in the East with a focus on Derrick Rose, an examination of Kobe Bryant’s role with the Lakers and a deeper look at how teams gather and evaluate personal health data from players. Special panelists for various segments will include ESPN The Magazine’s NBA deputy editor Ty Wenger and senior writers Ramona Shelburne and Pablo S. Torre. There will also be a segment devoted to this season’s predictions where Austin Clemens, a basketball analytics wizard, compiled data to graphically represent, in heat map form, each team’s defense. Within each heat map, The Mag had NBA Insider Ethan Sherwood Strauss annotate two spots — where the team projects to be strongest on defense, and where it projects to be weakest.
NBA Preview Issue Features
The Mag takes an inside look at the league’s most dysfunctional marriage: between the NBA’s ultimate power player, Kobe Bryant, and its most storied franchise—and how the team can’t wait for its star’s retirement. By Henry Abbott
The next battle between players and owners will be waged inside players’ bodies. The Mag reveals new, advanced biological testing occurring in NBA locker rooms and explore what that means for player privacy. By Pablo S. Torre and Tom Haberstroh
For the first time, we are graphically projecting team defenses along with overall team analysis from various NBA insiders including Austin Clemens, Jordan Brenner, Bradford Doolittle, Amin Elhassan, Tom Haberstroh, and Kevin Pelton.
After 20-plus years coaching in Israel and Europe, the Cavs hired David Blatt last summer as the first head coach to make the jump straight from overseas to the NBA. Now that Cleveland is loaded with LeBron and Kevin Love, though, there’s unparalleled pressure on the NBA newbie to deliver immediately. As we find out, though, he might just be perfectly equipped to handle it. By Jordan Brenner
Jim Harbaugh is an extraordinary coach: he’s taken his team to three NFC championship games in his four years. But his talent at turning losers into winners is matched only by his propensity to rub people the wrong way in the process. The only way to get close to this former quarterback — who seems to abhor even the idea of getting close – is to play a game of catch, of course. By Seth Wickersham
Through four weeks, NFL quarterbacks are more proficient than ever when it comes to Total QBR and completion percentage. Philip Rivers is among the best examples of this trend, seen through an examination of his efficiency. By Kevin Seifert
Additional NBA Preview Issue Highlights:
- MLB: In her latest column, Mina Kimes writes how everyone is talking about the NFL’s women problem … but what about baseball? This column addresses the lack of gender equity in MLB and the other leagues—and why the problem is getting worse, not better.
- CFB: At the midseason mark, insider Phil Steele makes his picks for the nation’s best position players, handicapping his favorites to win college football’s end-of-year awards.
- ESPNFC: As Real Madrid and Barcelona prepare to face off in the first El Clàsico, The Mag’s Michael Cox examines the two squad’s new offenses.