BY JUSTIN LONG
Aaah, another season of the sport that helped mold and shape me as a youth: professional basketball. No offense to any other sport, but the NBA is unique in that each season, the storylines of the league may change drastically, and cellar dwellers can turn into championship contenders with the turn of one or two trades. Here are some storylines from what I see as the 5 true contenders to the title this season.
Miami Heat: After many attempts, a ring was finally presented to the “King,” Lebron James. The Heat maintained their core team of James, Dwyane Wade, and the always comical Chris Bosh; Miami is in position for another run to the title adding one of the greatest shooters of all time in Ray Allen and one of the greatest thieves of all time in Rashard Lewis. Will the Heat’s additions prove to be enough to take them to the top again?
LA Lakers: Obviously the big winners in the summer’s ongoing Dwight Howard sweepstakes, the Lakers came up with a windfall, only losing their sputtering young center Andrew Bynum and a handful of bench players. Also, the Lakers came up with yet another bonus by scoring the aging, yet still excellent point guard Steve Nash. Creating what is yet ANOTHER team of “super starters” with Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Howard. Although this team is very capable, it is faced with the daunting future of very short term contracts. How will this team respond to its new challenge of “championship or bust?”
Oklahoma City Thunder: Last year was a phenomenal year for the young team; advancing all the way to the NBA Finals. Expect young stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to continue their streak of dominance at their positions. However, this year’s team is indeed a different one due to the loss of the $80 million dollar man James Harden off the bench. Although the starting 5 won’t change much (the addition of Kevin Martin), there will be undoubtedly a different dynamic in the bench play of the Thunder. Will this move hurt or help the budding team?
Boston Celtics: With the loss of Ray Allen to their conference rivals, this team just keeps looking older and older. The addition of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee should help their chances of remaining relevant, as well as drafting a pair of young centers in Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger. The stalwart play of all-star PG Rajon Rondo will provide a huge burst of energy to the team. Although, the overriding question of the season will remain: Will this team have enough gas at the end of the season to make the most of what will more than likely be its last season at its current state?
Dallas Mavericks: The Mavs were one of the many teams who were jilted by Dwight Howard in this summer’s soap opera, as well as missing out on the Deron Williams boat. The Mavericks endured all sorts of lineup changes and could end up having the most solid starting five in the league. The addition of Chris Kaman and Elton Brand provides them with much needed toughness in the post, and the addition of OJ Mayo and Darren Collison provides a young, explosive backcourt with room to grow. Look for the Mavs to make a deep run.
Thanks for reading.
edited by: Kelton Brooks