By Dan Shanoff
Page 2

Let's say you're caught at the water cooler, on the barstool or during a first date, and the subject of the new NBA season comes up. You must have an opinion on at least two touchy subjects:

(1) Shaq:
Just say: "That's right: I've always liked the Heat."

(2) Kobe:
Just say: "What will be higher -- his scoring average or the Lakers' win total?"

Otherwise: Use the list below to ensure that you present the trendiest angle possible to co-workers, buddies and the all-important "significant other":

Category Hot Not Hot
Controversy Shaq-Kobe comparison/competition Kobe's pending trial
Will revitalize interest Division realignment Increased scoring
Rap on KG Can't win West Can't win playoff series
Break-out All-Star
Corey Maggette

Gilbert Arenas
Coaching move Jim O'Brien (Sixers) Sam Mitchell (Raptors)
Hardware lock Defense (Ben Wallace) Rookie (who knows?)
Arena distraction "Singles Night" Flying t-shirts
Sophomore pressure Dwyane Wade LeBron James
Impact acquisition
Brent Barry (Spurs)

Derek Fisher (Warriors)
Prep-to-pro worth props Al Jefferson (Celtics) Robert Swift (Sonics)
Is it a contract year? Latrell Sprewell Tony Parker
Trade bait Jason Kidd Ray Allen
Arena music
Lil' Jon

Ashlee Simpson
Skill for wannabe 10-day-contractors Can you shoot? Can you play D?
Second-wind vets Steve Smith (Bobcats) Joe Smith (Bucks)
Growth stock Richard Jefferson Jonathan Bender
Carmelo buzz Nah. Too easy Better than LeBron?
Must-have rookie jersey Telfair, No. 31, Blazers Nelson, No. 14, Magic
Bobcats Stink, but stinking the "right way" Spending now to try to win now
Early-season revelation K-Mart is West MVP Celts as good as Sox, Pats
Style to emulate Pistons' stifling D Lakers' implosion
Master strategist
Doc Rivers

Stan Van Gundy
NBA Finals MVP candidate Tony Parker Chris Webber
Needs more pub Willie Green (Sixers) Andrei Kirilenko (Jazz)
Owner Bob Johnson (Bobcats) The Maloofs, or Mark Cuban
Friend-wowing fantasy draft pick Carlos Arroyo Vince Carter
Goal of off-season acquisition Frontcourt depth Backcourt size
Soothing team presence Rasheed Wallace Antoine Walker
Foreign stud
Andres Nocioni

Peja Stojakovic
Frustrated star Jason Kidd Allen Iverson
Hair style Bald 'Rows
Ideal scoring punch Jump-shooter like Rip Hamilton Slasher like T-Mac
Fun to watch Suns Mavs

In the Page 2 "Hot/Not" tradition, some predictions:

Category Like Don't Like

Defense Ben Wallace Ron Artest
Improved Brian Cardinal Carlos Boozer
Sixth Man Any Pistons player Antawn Jamison
Scoring champ Kobe T-Mac
Rookie Dwight Howard Emeka Okafor
Jeff Bzdelik

Larry Brown
Atlantic Knicks Nets
Central Pistons Pacers
Southeast Heat Wizards
Northwest Nuggets Timberwolves
Pacific Kings Lakers
Southwest Spurs Mavs
Eastern Conf. Heat Pistons
Western Conf. Spurs Timberwolves
Finals champs Spurs revival Pistons repeat

Dan Shanoff is a Page 2 columnist. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears Monday-Friday on Page 2 and he hosts the "Morning Quickie" every weekday from 9-10 a.m. ET on SportsNation.