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In the spirit of Thanksgiving, which player, team or other NBA thing are you most thankful for so far in the 2017-18 season?
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Steve Aschburner: I'm thankful for what the Boston Celtics have done. I was at Quicken Loans Arena on opening night and had a terrific, horrific view of Gordon Hayward's ankle explosion. Beyond all the immediate concerns about Hayward, I almost instantly began to mourn the Eastern Conference for its lack of interest in a suddenly much longer regular season. Had Boston slid to mediocrity without Hayward, the Cavaliers would have been able to fiddle around for 81 games before getting serious and it all would have been pretty boring. But by roaring back with their most unlikely winning streak, the Celtics set a tone for the conference, serving notice to its playoff aspirants that this need not be predictable and snoozy.
Shaun Powell: I'm thankful the NBA isn't dealing with issues that are currently chipping away at the armor of other pro sports. The NFL right now is wallowing in a muck of concussions, players kneeling for the anthem, Colin Kaepernick, a depletion of great quarterbacks and Roger Goodell. Baseball is still trying to distance itself from steroids and how that era damaged the game's history and disrupted the Hall of Fame process. Meanwhile, all the NBA gets is the occasional fingernail scratch against the blackboard from LaVar Ball.
John Schuhmann: I'm thankful for all the young talent there is in the league right now, giving us reasons to watch every night, even though we know what team is going to be winning the championship in June. We already had Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns. Now, we have a rookie class with a ton of depth and talent, from top picks like Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum to second rounders like Jordan Bell and Dillon Brooks. And there are other young guys, like Aaron Gordon and Spencer Dinwiddie, who have shown a lot of improvement. Seeing the potential and development of young players and young teams makes us temporarily forget the inevitability of another Warriors title.
Sekou Smith: Joel Embiid and "The Process." Sure, that phrase was a punchline as recently as training camp before the start of the 2016-17 season. We hadn't yet seen Embiid in action and Ben Simmons wasn't collecting triple-doubles. But based on what we've seen so far, there's more than enough reason to believe. And in a regular season that was supposed to be little more than a bland appetizer for Warriors-Cavaliers IV, Embiid and the Sixers have injected some much-needed juice into the game. There's also the new school of freaky young giants (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic and Kristaps Porzingis are also enrolled) ready to bring the big man back. But, Embiid gets it. He's got the splendid inside-out game to one day be the most dominant force in the league. He has the wit and quick tongue to dominate the social-media landscape that has become equally important to players and fans. Thank Naismith for the surprise that is the continued evolution of Joel Embiid and "The Process."