Part of the charm of last year's Los Angeles Clippers was the anonymity in which they operated. With a finite amount of basketball attention available, so much of it was aimed at LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
While people weren't looking, the Clippers crafted a success story – a star-less team full of exciting scorers that included sixth-man-of-the-year Lou Williams, tenacious defenders led by Patrick Beverley and an energy-oozing big man in Montrezl Harrell.
When you add the top free agent, a reigning NBA Finals most valuable player, in Kawhi Leonard and you swing and connect on a blockbuster trade for Paul George, the secret gets out.
The Clippers will be a fixture on the NBA's biggest nights all season, highlighting a first week when they host the Los Angeles Lakers on opening night, Oct. 22, before traveling to San Francisco to christen the new Chase Center in the Golden State Warriors' home opener on Oct 24.
The Clippers will play in a franchise-high 26 nationally televised games during the regular season, including a Christmas showdown with the Lakers.
The team will play 13 sets of back-to-back games, a key number for Leonard, who helped bring "load management" – the strategic sitting out of certain games – into the mainstream. Leonard will return to Toronto on Dec. 11 for the first time after leading the Raptors to their first NBA title.
The trip to Toronto will be the fourth game of one of two six-game road trips for the Clippers this season.
George, whom the Clippers acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder, will be back in Oklahoma City on Dec. 22 and on March 3.
The Clippers and Lakers also play on Jan. 28 and March 8.