We are about a week into the new NBA season and as everyone is getting geared up, there are a few questions I have going into 1st half of they year.
- How far will the Dallas Mavericks fall from grace and how fast? – I don’t think I’ve ever been more skeptical of a Champion’s chance to repeat as I am with the Dallas Mavericks. Sure, they kept Dirk, but they lost their defensive strongman in Tyson Chandler (Knicks), offensive spark plug in J.J. Barea, and “The Lebron Stopper” DeShawn Stevenson. I like the Lamar Odom pickup, but I doubt that he will pick up the slack on the “D”. Rumors are circulating that Mavs’ Owner Mark Cuban is setting the table to go at D.Howard and D.Will (who is a Dallas native) in the offseason, so I guess we will have to stay tuned.
- Is Rip Hamilton enough to get the Bulls past the Heat and into the NBA Finals? – As a Bulls fan, It was gut-wrenching to watch them get ousted the way that they did last year. Coming in to the playoofs as the East’s top seed, the Bulls were ousted by a surging Heat squad on a mission and there was little that could be done about it because they simply didn’t have a player on the floor who could create shots for themselves besides Rose. This year, the 34 year old Rip, has been brought on to give the offense a much needed shot in the arm and be a second option in hopes to dethrone the current Eastern Conference champs and bring a title back to the Windy City.
- Will the Magic be able to move Dwight Howard or will it become another “Carmelo Anthony” situation? – Dwight Howard and Chris Paul’s quests for new teams dominated the newslines over the course of the NBA lockout and offseason. Both have expressed desires to get out of their current situations and move on to markets with bigger teams. Whereas, Paul is now team with Blake Griffin, Howard was forced to stand pat in Orlando. The Magic haven’t found the right price for Howard, although, his time in free agency looms large in the summer of 12′ so they could lose him for nothing by season’s end. I don’t see them walking away with nothing, so Howard should be playing with a new team before the deadline.
- What are the Knicks going to do for their backcourt offense? – The Knicks came into the new seasons with a lot of hopes…They brought in Tyson Chandler to a already scary tandom of STAT and Melo’ to give them the best front court line up in the league. However, in making this transaction they are left thin at the guard postions. The Knicks gave up a king’s ransom to acquire Anthony from Denver last year and now are face with a drought for the 1 and 2 spots. Acquiring Baron Davis will help when he back heals in 6-8 weeks, but if he is unable to recover in time the Knicks will be in trouble.
- How long is Kobe going to stay quiet? – Hollywood pretty much had it in the script for either Paul, or Howard or BOTH to end up in L.A. this year…and they were only partially right…Whereas Howard hardly acknowledge The Lake Show has a viable landing spot, Paul chose the Red-Headed stepchild of the Staples Center…leaving the Lakers without any means of retooling to compete in what is starting to become a young mans game in the Western Conference. The Lakers cashed in a major chip when the deal for Paul fell through, resulting in a dejected Lamar Odom begging for a trade and being shipped off for Dallas. A usually emotive Kobe Bryant mildly expressed his level of “pisstosity” (sp) and casually moved on stating that he is currently comfortable with the team’s current make up. But with a new coach, and offensive system the Lake Show will need the bodies to help against a slew of upstart teams and rivals ready to put the The Lake Show on hiatus permanently. How much will Kobe be apt to sit back and roll with the punches…only his knee (and now wrist) will tell..
- Just how good is Lob City going to be? – This is going to be great for the city of Los Angeles, having two headlining teams in the city. Chris Paul to Blake Griffin is sure to be the next Payton/Kemp tandem… The question is…for all the finesse, can the duo translate those highlight reel moves to contention in the Western Conference.
- Does Boston’s “Big Three” have anything left in the tank? – Boston got old fast. The original “Superteam” started the season against the Knicks and without Boston mainstay Paul Pierce. Mr. Shuttlesworth and Big Ticket haven’t been able to shoulder the load early and the only member of the team that appears to be ready for the run is Rondo, who is known to harbor an injury of his own from time to time. Jeff Green is out for the year with a heart condition. The addition of Brandon Bass actually looks like a goot fit, but how big of a factor the C’s will be remains to be seen.
- Can Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant co-exist to bring the rings to OKC? – As much as I like Derrick Rose, all bias aside, Kevin Durant is poised to be the MVP this year. Nobody is balling harder than the Durantula, the only problem is that his All-Star teammate wants some of the limelight too. Thus the conflict for the OKC Thunder. Much has been made of their game chemistry during the Western Conference finals loss at the hands of the Mavs last season mostly because it seemed as if Westbrooks competitive fire led him more to score than distribute. Of course when you have a scorer as prolific as Durant, this can be an issue. In early games, this season much is to be made of the squabbles on the sidelines of games and how it will affect this team’s chances in the late playoff push. If they can right the ship…there is no question that they will represent the West in The Finals.
- Can Memphis maintain under their new spotlight? – Last year, the Memphis Grizzlies shocked the world by ousting the spurs and nearly offing the Thunder in epic fashion. Zach Randolph reemerged in All-Star form and Marc Gasol showed the world that his brother isn’t the only Gasol with skills. This year, Rudy Gay returns and if this team can can take his contributions and stay healthy (Mike Conley has a bum ankle), this is my dark horse favorite to compete against the Thunder in the Wester Conference Finals.
- Is this finally the year “The King” gets “The Ring”? – Of course no question looms larger are the minds of Heat fans/haters than whether or not that this is the year that Lebron can finally shake his playoff demons and solidify his place in NBA lore. I’m not going to go into all that transpired against them last year, but it is beyond clear and evident that in order for the Heat to win it all Lebron will have to be the guy to get them there… Does he have what it takes? Only time will tell the tale.