Or, to be more specific, this version of UCLA — the 2016-17, Lonzo-Ball-and-TJ-Leaf-led, sprint-the-ball-up-the-floor-and-do-something-like-this (!) UCLA — is irresistible.
The four letters on the jersey connote storied and glorious history, sure, but it has been a long time since a team that wore them had this much fun doing so. Steve Alford has put a very good offense on the Pauley Pavilion floor before (in his first season, in 2013-14). Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook proved a fairly effective pairing (believe it or not) at the height of former coach Ben Howland’s success.
Saturday — when No. 3 UCLA hosts No. 14 Arizona — will bring this dynamic into even starker relief, for two reasons.
The top of the Dodgers’ system rivals anyone’s. They have four top prospects whom you could legitimately give a 20 percent chance to become stars in the big leagues, although two are pitchers, one of whom has already blown out his elbow once and the other of whom struggled to throw strikes when he first signed.
They’ve put money into the international market, aiming for ceiling, and have been more conservative in the draft, looking for lower-floor guys early and taking fliers after the second or third round. The system has also gotten deeper in some ways but lost two elite guys to promotion last year — one of those won Rookie of the Year, you may have heard of him — and depth in the midyear trade that brought in Rich Hill and Josh Reddick.
There are systems that run deeper in likely regulars, because those teams have been able to focus just on building without having to balance that and contention, but for a team this good to have this kind of star potential in full-season ball is remarkable.