The return of the NBA season offers hope. Yes, the Golden State Warriors start are red-hot favourites to win a fourth title in five years, but every team starts with a clean slate.
For some, though, this campaign could be pivotal in shaping their careers. Winning games may not even be enough to secure a future with your current employers, considering the ever-changing landscape of the league.
A year ago, LeBron James was still at home in Cleveland, Kawhi Leonard was the San Antonio Spurs' focal point to build around for the long term, Carmelo Anthony had joined the Oklahoma City Thunder with the idea of mounting a title push and DeMarcus Cousins was part of a fearsome front-court combination with Anthony Davis at the New Orleans Pelicans.
How times change.
Ahead of tip-off, we take a look at five notable names who all have a point to prove in 2018-19.
The second overall pick in the 2017 draft was always going to have growing pains during his rookie season on a Lakers roster lacking talent. He remained newsworthy despite his team's poor record, thanks in part to his father LaVar Ball, who was as much of a person of interest to the media as his son.
Now, though, the outlook has changed for the point guard. If he was the centre of attention as a high draft pick in his debut season, now he is a member of the supporting cast behind James.
Ball will have to adapt quickly to playing a supporting role, too. James will dominate the ball for the majority of his time on the court, forcing his team-mates to take on other duties, including becoming spot-up shooters. Ball had a 30.5 percent success rate from beyond the arc last season - that number needs to rise if he wants to feature at crunch time in key games.
What will we see from Leonard now he is no longer in San Antonio? A return to the levels that saw him named NBA Finals MVP in the Spurs' title-winning side in 2014, or a wasted season as he waits to end up in a preferred location?
The Toronto Raptors took a huge gamble in trading for a player who has one year remaining on his current contract, even if someone of Leonard's level rarely hits the market. They have parted ways with their own franchise linchpin, sending DeMar DeRozan in the opposite direction. If Leonard is somewhere else by this time next year, the NBA's Canadian franchise may have little choice but to go into full-on rebuilding mode.
But general manager Masai Ujiri knew the risks in making the deal. His hope is that Leonard likes what he sees in Toronto, who have excelled in the regular season but struggled to make an impact in the playoffs - and decides to stick around. If he does, it not only changes the long-term outlook for the Raptors but also the entire landscape of the Eastern Conference.
Is having Anthony - a 10-time All-Star and former scoring champion - a hindrance or a help? The Houston Rockets are about to find out.
The 34-year-old was acquired by Oklahoma City last year in the hope he could help the Thunder make some noise in the West. Instead, they lost in the opening round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz in a series that saw Anthony contribute 71 points in six games.
The Thunder cut their losses by trading the forward, who was subsequently bought out of his contract by the Atlanta Hawks before joining Houston for the veteran's minimum. If the Rockets get a little of the old Anthony, the one who revelled as the star in the Big Apple with the New York Knicks for so many years, it could help them topple the Warriors. If, though, they just get an old Anthony, it suggests the forward's decline is more permanent.
LeBron's departure from Cleveland clears the way for Love to become the Cavs' focal point. He was exactly that for the Minnesota Timberwolves before he teamed up with James in 2014.
The relationship between the pair was unsteady. "I had a lot of hard nights. There were dark times," Love - who won the title in 2016 but has endured a myriad of injury problems in recent years - said in an interview with ESPN.
Now, though, the power forward has the opportunity to return to his Timberwolves form, certainly in terms of scoring points. His talent is not in doubt, but there are plenty of miles on the clock and now his team are looking straight at him to lead the way. After being in the background while LeBron was present, it is time for Love to take over again.
For Golden State, the rich keep getting richer. The powerhouse in the NBA added an offensive-minded big man to a core unit that just swept their way to a championship. As if Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were not enough to contend with, the Warriors added 'Boogie' into the mix.
For Cousins, this should have been the year he got a whole lot richer. Instead, an Achilles injury ended his hopes of getting a max salary contract in the offseason. Instead, the 28-year-old took a short-term deal in the hope it would pay off down the line.
Fans will have to be patient in waiting to see how Cousins fits in with the free-scoring Warriors - it is still not known when he will be fit to play again - but his presence with the champions is one of the most fascinating subplots to this season's NBA story. It may not be a long player-team relationship, but it could benefit all parties.
24 de enero 2019
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|Young ready to lead Pacers in Oladipo´s absence|
|Kvitova breaking down mental barriers in Melbourne run|
|Neymar has ´painful recurrence´ of foot injury, PSG confirm|
|Sala search begins for third day|
|Pochettino fears VAR will ´annoy´ Premier League fans|
|Osaka through to Melbourne decider after Pliskova thriller|
|Tsitsipas Souvlaki official as Australian Open star is honoured in Melbourne|
|Pacers earn big win over Raptors, Oladipo injured|
|Harden pleased to entertain Knicks fans in 61-point display|
|Kvitova overcomes extreme heat for spot in Aus Open final|
|Man United have their club back – Scholes revels in Solskjaer revival|
|Harden matches another Chamberlain feat with 61-point game|
|Capitals give up fourth hat-trick in five games|
|Durant leaving Warriors would be ´great´ for NBA, says McGrady|
|McEnroe: Serena choked in Australian Open loss|
|De Jong an ´important addition´ at Barca, says Valverde|
|´Better outcome than we originally feared´ – Agent on Anthony Davis injury|
|Pacers sweating on Oladipo injury after Indiana star leaves on stretcher|
|De Jong: I spoke to PSG and City before signing for Barca|
|Guardiola wants finals habit at Man City|
|Lakers star LeBron won´t face Timberwolves|
|Valverde doesn´t regret resting Messi despite Barcelona loss|
|In my heart and in my prayers - Ben Yedder pays tribute to missing Sala|
|Real Madrid reclaim world´s highest-earning club title from Manchester United|
|Messi absence no excuse for Barcelona loss, says Suarez|
|Humble Higuain excited by Sarri reunion|
|He must not come and cry after – Goncalves unapologetic over Neymar injury|
|Serie A record-breaker under Sarri - the Opta numbers behind new Chelsea striker Higuain|
|PSG boss Tuchel ´worried´ after Neymar sent to hospital with another foot injury|
|Coles commits to New Zealand and Hurricanes until 2021|
23 de enero 2019
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|England won ´attritional´ battle, says Anderson after latest landmark|
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|Sarri: Chelsea players agree with me on motivation comments|
|Morata asked to leave Chelsea a month ago, says Sarri|
|Paris Saint-Germain 2 Strasbourg 0: Neymar suffers injury scare in Coupe victory|
|Anderson´s four-wicket haul rocks Windies|
|Burton Albion 0 Manchester City 1 (0-10 agg): Holders coast through to clinch Wembley return|
|PSG´s Neymar hobbles off in Coupe de France clash|
|De Ligt bored of Ajax departure rumours|
|Piatek completes AC Milan move after Higuain exit|
|Super Bowl LIII: Rams RBs v Patriots RBs|
|Chelsea seal Higuain loan|
|Ismaily kicked out of CAF Champions League after fans throw stones, bottles|
|England star Itoje pens new Saracens deal|
|Palace keeper Hennessey charged over Instagram post|
|Chelsea warn supporters over anti-Semitic chanting ahead of Tottenham EFL Cup tie|
|Joshua primed to make call on next opponent|
|Super Bowl LIII: Brady v Goff|
|Sala search suspended as Cardiff chairman confirms club wanted different travel arrangements|
|Cruyff, Koeman, Kluivert - De Jong following pantheon of Dutch Barca greats|
|Sarfraz apologises for comments picked up by stump mic|
|Djokovic: Pouille deserves top-10 spot|
|Hazard must be more demanding if he wants to leave Chelsea, says Ballack|
|Celtics´ Kyrie Irving to sit out Cavs game with flu-like symptoms|
|Barcelona seal €86m De Jong deal|
|Vietnam v Japan: Moriyasu happy to keep doing just enough|
|Hendricks, De Kock and Steyn join up with Proteas squad|
|Lorenzo excited for ´new level´ at Repsol Honda|
|Fernando replaces injured Pradeep in Sri Lanka squad|
|China v Iran: Queiroz wants to exorcise 2015 quarter-final|
|Balotelli joins Marseille until the end of the season|
|Emery gives Monchi ringing endorsement amid Arsenal sporting director links|
|Larry Fitzgerald returning to Cardinals on one-year deal|