A new NBA season begins in a matter of days. A time for 30 teams to have unbridled optimism of what could be for the coming year, I time to realize the strength of your poker hand and/or for others – or a time to tank early for the coveted draft piece.
A few things to watch for this season:
1. New Orleans pelicans youth movements:
Potential starting lineup of Drew holiday, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and Anthony Davis. Let’s not forget about sharpshooter Ryan Anderson. The Pelicans had the 2nd best record this preseason. Yes 7-1. They won their first 6 games, lost 1 and then finished off preseason with a win. We will definitely see an exciting young team with tons of upside. Can they get the 8th seed in the west?
2. The return of rookie of the year Damian Lillard:
Lillard spent time working on game. More specifically, his goal was to focus on his defense and being mentored by none other than Gary Payton “The Glove”. The Blazers have some nice pickups in McCollum, Thomas Robinson, Robin Lopez and company.
3. John Wall and the Washington Wizards:
Over the weekend, the Wizards traded Emeka Okafor for Marcin Gortat. This gives the Wiz an exciting combination of Nene & Gortat with John Wall & Bradley Beal.
4. Andrew Bynum and the circus in Cleveland. Return of coach Mike Brown. Cleveland’s season will hinge on their commitment to defense and the health, focus and motivation of Andrew Bynum (just as Philadelphia’s season hung on Bynum’s shoulders last season).
5. Dwight Howard Saga:
Howard joins forces with James Harden, Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons. And a solid bench of Francisco Garcia, Patrick Beverly and Omri Casspi. Francisco a sniper. Deadly from 3 point range. Patrick Beverly whom most in the league know as the player that put Russell Westbrook out of the playoffs, is a pest on defense and solid 3 point shooter. And Omri Casspi, the first Israeli-born player in the NBA was trying to make the team prior to the preseason but shot above 54% in the preseason (most of which were 3-pointers) has seemed to earn his minutes.
Does Asik stay or go? The Rockets will be the subject of trade rumors for most of the coming season due to Asik being highly coveted for his size and defensive ability. Chris Bosh or Ryan Anderson or even Jeff Green have all been mentioned in rumors.
The Rockets strategy is no secret – surround Dwight Howard with capable shooters to keep defenses honest and subject the opposition to a healthy dose of pick-and-roll with Harden and Lin.
6. Championship or bust for the Brooklyn Nets:
– New coach Jason Kidd
– deep pockets owner Prokhorov
– KG, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry additions
– Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez return
With senior citizens on any squad, health is the biggest concern. This team looks outstanding on paper as long as it includes healthy versions of KG, Pierce and Williams. Can they challenge the Heat for the East crown?
7. Derrick Rose Returns!!
D. Rose looked explosive in the preseason. He attacked the rim, hit the jumper and helped the Bulls become the only undefeated team in the preseason (8-0). How will the Bulls fare in the East. They play tough every night. Much props to Thibodeau for the defensive resiliency on each night. However, prior to the season starting, I’d have to rank the Bulls in 4th place in the East after the Heat, Pacers, Nets. Maybe even #5 after the Knicks.
8. Can the Heat three-peat?
The Heat are vying for 4 consecutive finals appearances this season. They are coming off back to back titles and the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history (27 consecutive wins) last seasons. They have added Greg Oden, lost Mike Miller and have Ray Allen coming back. Can they stay healthy and defend their title? Will LeBron win his 5th MVP award? Will Dwayne Wade return to his 2006/2007 self? Will Greg Oden still be on the court come playoff time? Can the Heat stay focused through 82 long games and still be motivated prior to the playoffs? Or Should we just give them the 3peat like last year?
9. Opening Night October 29th
There are two games slated for opening nights but let’s discuss the most exciting to: number one the Battle of LA pits the Lakers versus the Clippers and Number 2 the Miami Heat versus the Chicago Bulls – fireworks!
10. Exhilarating battle Out West
It is a weeping and moaning and a gnashing of teeth is evidently a reference to the struggles and warfare to gain supremacy in the Western Conference. In the previous 4 seasons, 4 different teams have won the Western Conference crown. This year could see a 5 consecutive “different” team win the West. With upstarts like the Clippers, Rockets, Warriors and Grizzlies all sporting deep teams. And let’s not forget perennial favorites in the Spurs and Thunder.
It goes without saying, the west is a powerhouse. 6 or 7 teams in the West will be very solid teams. Making the playoffs won’t be easy. In fact, 4 out of the following 6 teams WILL miss the playoffs: Pelicans, Mavericks, Blazers, Lakers, Nuggets and Timberwolves.
In closing, HoopsReportCard made our contributions and were featured in ESPN’s #NBARank
Finally, and lest we forget. VINO! Will Kobe Bryant return to his top-5-player form? Will he lead the Lakers to the playoffs?
That and many more questions, will begin to be answered starting ToNight!!