Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen is a regular columnist for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, UpperDeckblog.com, and his own blog, Hoops Haven .
Surely every offseason, between the NBA Draft and the beginning of November, hardwood hoop-heads, like myself, are just counting down the days until basketball comes full circle again. All of us just cannot wait for the seemingly endless team and conference previews and meaningless preseason games to come to a close so that we can truly see if all those “expert” predictions come true. Most true basketball fans will tell you that the college game is better because the players have nothing to lose and play like every game is their last, because…………….sometimes, it is. I am usually one of those people, but this NBA season is different. This could be one of those rare years where there is no clear cut favorite and there are numerous soap opera scenarios which could become either a Cinderella story line or an udder disappointment. If you’re still not convinced, here are 5 surefire reasons to look forward to the NBA season.
There Are At Least Five Teams Capable of Winning the NBA Championship
Competition should be fierce. The NBA Champion Lakers appear to have actually improved from last season. They better have, since every other contender has too. Even though the Western Conference is in a supposed “down” year, the upper echelon of teams, that include the Lakers, San Antonio, Denver, and Portland, will be jockeying for home court throughout the entire regular season. It will be interesting to watch: a)if Ron Artest can control his emotions and become the All-Star second fiddle to Kobe and help the Lakers repeat, b)if the addition of Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess, and Dejuan Blair is enough to bring the Spurs a fifth title, c)if Carmelo Anthony truly matures and becomes a MVP candidate, possible scoring champ, and leads the Nuggets to their first NBA Finals, and d) if Andre Miller can provide the veteran leadership that the young Blazers need to make them annual contenders.
In the East, Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando are the clear cut class of the conference, with all three having title aspirations. It will be interesting to watch: a)if Shaq and Lebron can coexist and give Cleveland it’s first title, b)if Kevin Garnett’s knee can withstand a full season and the addition of Sheed ensures Boston a return trip back to the Finals, c)if Vince Carter can adjust to playing with a dominant big man and defer to his new talented teammates, and d)if Joe Johnson takes the next step towards superstardom and leads a young Hawks squad deep into the postseason.
There Are So Many Former Superstars Coming Off of Injuries
Some of the best players that the NBA has seen in the past decade are coming off of major injuries. Virtually all or most of the players teams’ fortunes rest on their ability to return to All-Star status. The list of players attempting a full recovery reads like an All Decade Team: Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Elton Brand, Jameer Nelson, Amare Stoudemire, Al Jefferson, Jermaine O’Neal, and Michael Redd. It will be interesting to watch: if Arenas in Washington, Garnett in Boston, and Brand in Philly can make a big enough impact to be their respective teams to go to player in crunch time.
All Of The Talented Rookies
Every season it is fascinating to see how the nation’s best collegiate players games translate to the NBA. This year’s rookie class is no different as a multitude of talent has filtered into the professional ranks. Whether it is a lottery pick becoming a team’s building block for the future or a contributing player on an already good team, it is definitely fun to watch the growing pains as the rookie becomes accustomed to playing within each team’s new schemes. It will be interesting to watch a)if NCAA Player of the Year, Blake Griffin can continue to be the beast of a player he was in college and lead the hapless Clippers to the playoffs, b)if 7’3 shot blocking center, Hasheem Thabeet, under the tutelage of low post legend Hakeem Olajuwon, can become develop an offensive game to match his already dominant defense, c)if Tyreke Evans can fulfill his tremendous potential without a supporting cast on a bad team in Sacramento, and d) if Brandon Jennings sets a new trend by proving that HS players can go overseas instead of college to develop into good NBA players.
The Race To 5 Championships
Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Shaquille O’Neal are in select company. Each player has individually won 4 NBA titles and appear to be in a position to win a 5th. Kobe is in probably the best position to win #5,………. and then some, since at age 31, he is still in his prime and is on a young team which is built to compete for years to come. “The Big Fundamental“, Tim Duncan has quietly won 4 titles, if that is even possible. The Spurs have apparently realized that Duncan’s wheels have allot of mileage, and could start to break down in the near future since he has played in over 1,000 NBA games at such a high level. The Spurs window to win is definitely closing with his supporting cast also in their 30’s, thus the loading up on talent this offseason to give Duncan and Co. a chance to win #5. The “Big Shaqtus” is trying to accomplish a rare feat by winning an NBA title with 3 different teams. Although O’Neal has definitely starting to show some wear on his 37 year old body, he is in prime position to possibly win title #5 with the help of “King James” in Cleveland. O’Neal, and Lebron for that matter know that their team has a one year window, or face a dismantling in Cleveland since both players will be free agents in 2010.
We Should See Some New Teams Challenging For the Playoffs
Along with only a few teams that can be considered true title contenders, comes parity, meaning the bottom half of both conferences will have intense competition for playoff positioning. Never before will games that are played in November, be just as important as those played in March. There will be some annual bottom feeders who will challenge for a playoff spot. It will be interesting to watch: a)if Allen Iverson has enough in the tank to help lead the Grizzlies along with Zach Randolph to the playoffs, b)if Baron Davis, along with a talented supporting cast that includes Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, and Marcus Camby has enough, c)Anthony Randolph, Steph Curry, Captain Jack and the young Warriors can stay out of the headlines and play some defense in order to make the playoffs, and d)if Coach Larry Brown can get “Crash“, Gerald Wallace and Tyson Chandler to “play the right way” and sneak into the postseason.