I will start this preview by stating the Miami Heat will not win the NBA title THIS season. It takes time. With that being said, its plenty of other stories in the NBA this season that are worth the price of admission (or price of the NBA Season Pass). Lots of players changing cities, impact rookies (plus 2009 #1 Overall selection Blake Griffin) and even some rule changes will bring a new flavor that I believe the league has needed.
Lets start 1st with the Eastern Conference.
Boston obviously should win the Atlantic Division with ease, but they showed last season, they dont really care about having the most wins in the NBA, but just being prepared for April/May and they are fine. If Doc Rivers is the coach I think he is (which is MUCH better than Mike Brown was in Cleveland), he will find the PROPER way to use Shaquille O’Neal, which is limited minutes and increased minutes when playing the big dogs. I believe each team in the Atlantic Division should improve, not by much (unless NY ends up with Carmelo Anthony THIS season instead of next season…shout out to LaLa if you catch my drift). The Sixers have a new (old) coach in Doug Collins and still have a weird mix of “talent” so I expect them to be major players at the trade deadline. You dont draft Evan Turner 2nd overall to have him be a backup to Andre Igoudola. The Nets made one of the best offseason moves ever, they moved out of that awful Meadowlands/Izod Center and moved to Newark to the Prudential Center which will make the experience of watching them better for the fans in attendance. Brook Lopez is a Top 10 center in the league, I absolutely love what 2nd year forward Terrance Williams gives you in his all around game and look for a healthy Devin Harris to be a factor this season. The Knicks signed Amare Stoudamire and have a bunch of solid role players, will Raymond Felton be the answer at point guard? We shall see.
In the Central Divsion, I guess Chicago is the frontrunner but thats basically by default. This team is lead by budding superstar Derrick Rose and made a couple of shrewd moves this offseason highlighted by scooping Carlos Boozer from Utah. The only serious challenger to the crown would be the Milwaukee Bucks. Andrew Bogut is back and Brandon Jennings is in year 2 of his development. The key to the team to me is John Salmons and can he continue his solid play on both sides of the ball. Cleveland….well, we know what happened there so we wont speak on it….and Detroit…..Joe Dumars should be fired for spending all of that free cap space 2 seasons ago on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Indiana just may be that team to move up the ranks. Picking up Darren Collison to lock down that point guard spot was HUGE and the continued development of Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansborough and 1st rd pick Paul George will give Pacer fans a reason to be optimistic about the immediate future.
In the tough Southeast division, you have 2 heavyweight franchises, 2 other playoff teams and my Wizards. In Orlando, they know what they are, they are just hoping that whatever they think they are, is good enough for a return trip to the NBA Finals, I still believe they need more dynamic play from the 2 guard position (paging Vince Carter) to ultimately win the Finals but there isnt any reason why they couldn’t get there. Miami is one season/stud post player away IMO but as the old saying goes “Rome wasnt built in a day” but please believe they ARE trying to build Rome or a facsimile LOL. Being able to bring in LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller in one offseason has to be the greatest coup in NBA History. You now have 2 of the best 3 players together in Bron and DWade, and 3 of the top 15 when you add Bosh (Im not as high on Bosh as most people but he’s the best 3rd option in basketball hands down). One thing that team sports constantly show us that it takes time to gel and Miami isnt any different. They will win 60 games but honestly who cares? This team is only gonna be judged by postseason success as it should so I really dont care what they do during the season, what I want to see is in the 2nd rd of the playoffs…when the series is tied 2-2, and Miami is down by 1 with 15 seconds left with the ball….who facilitates the offense and who takes that gamewinning shot? The Bobcats are a pretty solid team but they will venture into that “Middle of the Road” playoff team area which is basically a no-man’s land of opportunity sad to say. Atlanta is in that same boat because they have mortgaged their future into Joe Johnson, who was an absolute no-show in the playoffs last year. If that guy is the Go-to Guy on your team, you have no shot….sorry.
Lastly, my Washington Wizards……where should I start…..well last season, anything that could have gone wrong, did and THEN some so I wont go back and relive that awfulness. What I will state is that because of that awfulness, we lucked up and won the draft lottery in a year where there is a TRUE franchise changer, and that franchise changer goes by the name of John Wall. The Front Office has basically moved on from the Gilbert Arenas business and went all in into The John Wall Brand and rightly so. He is the prototype Point Guard of the Future in the NBA today. He is ultra quick, ultra athletic, very long (pause) and has the ability to become a lock down defender once he learns the NBA game….picture Rajon Rondo’s body type with Derrick Rose’s ability together. With that being said, I actually like some of the moves Ernie Grundfeld made this offseason. I love the Hinrich pickup (although I wanted Rudy Fernandez), I love the drafting of Trevor Booker because this team is not tryin to make one deep run like last season’s moves showed, this team needed a new focus and that new focus is being young, dynamic and TOUGH, which Booker will eventually bring. Our post play is going to leave something to be desired but in the end, we are going to see where the hearts of Javale McGee and Andray Blatche are because they are going to see the bulk of the playing time so its on them to improve daily and act like they want to be a player in the league. I see us winning about 30 or so games which would put us back in the lottery and hopefully we can strike lottery gold 2 years in a row…its happened before, why not us?