Well, tomorrow begins the NBA regular season again. Pro Basketball is my favorite sport and I’ve decided to write a preview for the upcoming season.
Coming off a sixty-six game strike shortened season where the Miami Heat won the championship last June over the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games, I’m glad the full eighty-two game season has returned for the 2012-2013 campaign.
Here are the major storylines I will be looking at this season:
1) Will the Miami Heat repeat?: The ringless king, Lebron James, finally won his first championship last season and the weight of the basketball world has been lifted off his massive shoulders. Is this the start of a new dynasty on South Beach? Will Lebron add another championship to his legacy? Will D-Wade be content as Robin? Will Ray Allen (once a villain and now a teammate) make clutch shots for them in playoffs? Will the Heat have that hunger to repeat? (Look what happened to the Dallas Mavericks last season.) Repeating is not easy (just ask The Spurs) and the last team to do it was the Lakers from 2000-2002 with Shaq and Kobe.
2) Will The Lakers return to glory and get title number 17?: As usual, the Lakers made the biggest off-season splash by signing Steve Nash as a free agent and trading for Dwight Howard in the 4-team blockbuster trade that included sending Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers and Andre Iguodala to Denver Nuggets while the Orlando Magic received draft picks and journeyman players.
Can Kobe, Nash, Dwight, and Gasol co-exist and make a smooth transition? The last time the Lakers tried a superstar lineup with Shaq, Kobe, Gary Payton, & Karl Malone in 2004 where it got them to the finals when they got exposed by the Detroit Pistons.
Will The Lakers get production from the bench? Their bench has been an Achilles heel for them the past few seasons. But the signings of Antwan Jamison and Jodie Meeks should help.
As always, The Lakers (like The Yankees and The Cowboys) will receive all the media attention and be interesting to follow the entire season whether you like them or not. Not…..in my case!
3) Will The Oklahoma City Thunder take a step back after trading James Harden to Houston Rockets?: The Thunder, the league’s newest small-market darlings, made to the NBA Finals last season with the big three of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden leading the way. Now, Harden is gone. How will it affect the rest of the team? Will Kevin Martin be able to replace him? Will their chemistry take a hit as a result of the trade?
I will get to see them up and close on November 1st against the Spurs here in San Antonio. I’m looking for a little revenge (I will admit it won’t be the same now that Harden is gone.) and hoping they meet again in the playoffs to return the favor after spoiling the Spurs great season.
4) Can The Spurs return to glory and get title number 5?: The San Antonio Spurs, the most overlooked, underappreciated, but well-respected team in all of pro sports are still hanging around as a title contender even though its been 5 years since they’ve won their last title. As usual, they didn’t make any big splash free-agent signings or blockbuster trades. They decided to resign their free-agents: Duncan, Danny Green, and Boris Diaw and are hoping a full training camp will get them closer to number 5.
Can Green and Kawhi Leonard grow enough to help more in the playoffs? Can Spurs return to being a defensive-oriented ballclub after doing their best Phoenix Suns imitation for the past several years? Can Tim, Tony, and Manu remain healthy? (Well, Manu is already out for the season opener against the New Orleans Hornets.)
Of course, the pundits will pronounce the Spurs are officially over and good riddance to the most boring team in the league. Only to see they are right there at the end of the season one of the best records again and forcing their way into a national discussion (We have overlooked the Spurs again. They’re not sexy. They’re not front page news. But they are effective.) As a Spurs fan, I have come to expect this kind of reaction now. LOL!
5) Can The Boston Celtics make one run at the title?: I guess what I just wrote about the Spurs could apply to the Celtics. Well, the Celtics are not considered boring like The Spurs. Anyway, can KG, Paul Pierce, and Rondo will their way back to the Eastern Conference Finals? How will Jeff Green, Jason Terry, and Courtney Lee incorporate themselves into the team? Will Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo have an impact this season? Will the Boston fans ever forgive Ray Allen for signing with the Miami Heat?
The Celtics-Heat rivalry is the best in the NBA and I can’t wait to see how the city reacts when Ray Allen returns to town as a visitor. Also, I’m looking forward to another playoff battle between these two teams.
6) Will there be a new team emerging out of the shadows of the best teams in the league?:
Can the Los Angeles Clippers continue from last season’s playoff run and make it a true rival with the Lakers for city hoop supremacy?
Can the Indiana Pacers learn from their defeat against The Heat in last season’s playoffs and take that next step towards the Eastern Conference elite?
Can the Brooklyn Nets (with their new arena, new uniforms, and a Russian billionaire owner) join the Eastern Conference elite?
Can the most overrated team in basketball, the New York Knicks, finally be relevant instead of all hype because they are in NYC?
Can the Memphis Grizzlies or Denver Nuggets make noise the tough Western Conference?
These are the major story lines, I will be looking at all season. I’m glad my favorite sport is back and I hope the Spurs can bring home title number 5 next June.