NBA Preview: 149 Days Later

It took the NBA 149 days, almost an entire school year, to finally reach a deal between the owners and the players and end the lockout which threatened to cancel the entire season.  Instead of said lockout, NBA fans will receive a collective Christmas present on December 25 when the NBA will start a 66 game season.  There are many story lines this season: can the Miami Heat regroup after a devastating loss in the NBA Finals?  Will a big name player, for example Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, be traded to a large-market team to create another group of superstars?  And of course the main question that looms over every season; who is going to be holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy in mid-June as champions of the NBA?

From Left: Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant

There are a solid number of contenders for the championship this season including the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, and the defending champion Dallas Mavericks.  The most intriguing and polarizing team of this bunch, maybe even in all of sports, is the Miami Heat.  They became instant villains when LeBron James decided to “take his talents to South Beach” last July to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to create a team of three perennial All-Stars.  The Heat were much maligned last season and everything they did was magnified, including accusations of crying in the locker room and making fun of Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki before Game 5 of last season’s finals.  They lost to the Mavericks in those finals, but are the early favorites to win it all this season, although many would like to see them lose.  The trio of Lebron, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh will probably be very good this season. However, only time will tell if they will be good enough to win it all. Another major championship contender are the Chicago Bulls.  The Bulls are led by reigning MVP Derrick Rose and can claim one of the toughest defenses in the NBA.  The Bulls had the best record last season winning 62 games but lost 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat and are looking to go even further this season, but they will only go as far as Rose can take them.

Another intriguing team is the Oklahoma City Thunder, who boasts maybe the best all-around player in the NBA in Kevin Durant, the two-time defending scoring champ. The Thunder were not expected to contend for another few years but due to the emergence of Kevin Durant, the Thunder are on the cusp of dominating the NBA for quite some time. Personally, I feel that the Los Angeles Lakers will be in contention as long as Kobe Bryant is on the team, and they still have talented guys in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Finally, when doing a rundown of championship contenders you have to mention the defending champs, the Dallas Mavericks led by Dirk Nowitzki.  Nowitzki cemented himself as one of the greatest NBA players ever after last season’s playoff performance, and after grabbing his first title look for him to be hungry for a second.

Now these predictions are based upon the rosters at the time of this writing, but this all could change in an instant due to a myriad of trade rumors being thrown around, most of them involving New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.  Both Paul and Howard are two of the best players in the league, but are on teams that either cannot pay them enough money to stay, or just do not feel they can help these guys out and become contenders again.  Paul and Howard have been rumored to go anywhere and everywhere.  It’s been said that Paul would be swapped for Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, and Dwight Howard has been talked about everywhere from New York to Los Angeles.  There have even been rumors that Paul and Howard would join forces and join the Los Angeles Lakers together, creating another team of superstars that would make the Lakers the instant favorites.  Wherever these guys go, along with a number of key role – playing free agents like Marc Gasol, Nene, David West, and Jason Richardson, will alter the landscape of the NBA and could render my predictions worthless.

Now that we have all gotten over the period of just being happy to have the NBA back, it’s time for some predictions.  Now some might think these predictions are easy but honestly who picked the Mavericks to win last season?  Besides the contenders I missed above there are a number of second-tier teams that could easily win the NBA Championship.  The veterans on both the Boston Celtics and especially the San Antonio Spurs know exactly what it takes to play at a championship caliber level.  The New York Knicks have made basketball relevant again in the city with their massive trade for Carmelo Anthony to pair with Amar’e Stoudemire.  This duo could prove lethal on offense so if the Knicks can find a little defense from anyone, they can easily make a run.  There are other exciting teams who could make runs like the Portland Trail-Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Los Angeles Clippers who are led by reigning rookie of the year Blake Griffin.  But I digress, as I believe that the Chicago Bulls will defeat the Miami Heat in the East Finals and the Oklahoma City Thunder will beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the West Finals, and the Bulls will win the NBA Championship in six games.  I predict Kevin Durant to win his first MVP award and top pick Kyrie Irving to win Rookie of the Year.

So there you have it, I hope this season will really captivate fans and bring them back to the sport that was very, very close to canceling this season and potentially more.  It’s time to start up the fantasy drafts, fire up NBA 2K11, and get yourself ready for another great season of NBA basketball.

Posted by on December 12, 2011. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry