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NBA shootaround: Looking forward to 2017

Here's a look at some things to look forward to in the new year.

This time around, the Warriors will have Kevin Durant to hurl at the Cavaliers, but something tells me that King James and Co. are up to the challenge. 
Of course, it would be nice to get some new blood in the NBA Finals, but it's incredibly entertaining to watch these teams learn more about each other, learn to hate each other even more, and use everything they physically and emotionally have to try and wear each other out. A new era of rivals. I love it.

Playoff race in the West. There are a few teams that you can completely ignore as far as the "race" is concerned. The Warriors and Spurs are obviously in. The Clippers, Rockets, and Thunder are going to be the middle of the pack and jockeying for position. But it's the race for the last couple of spots that intrigues me the most.

As a native Californian (a Northern Californian at that), I would absolutely love to see the Warriors play the Kings in a playoff series, for the pure joy of celebrating California pride (I have no other loyalties to either of them). The Warriors will certainly sweep the Kings, but I'd still like to see DeMarcus Cousins get a little taste of some playoff ball and maybe help the Kings pay for that shiny new arena in the Golden State capital.

The 2017 All-Star Game will be decided, not only by the fans as in previous years, but also by players, and members of the NBA media.  This is the first year that the players and media will have a say in the All-Star roster. Players and media will have the chance to complete one full ballot, with three frontcourt players and two guards from the Eastern and Western Conference. The players can even vote for themselves.

Now, I'm not sure exactly how this will shake out. We might just end up with the same thing we always have — the most popular players making the team. But it's possible that with players voting for people who they truly think deserve it and with media members that are more familiar with particular teams and matchups, we might see a bit of a shakeup in the way the roster plays out.

But even if we don't, the players at least will feel like they have had their voice heard, since their votes will count as 25 percent of the total vote.
If you are interested in voting there are a bajillion ways to do it, start here.

See you in 2017!