It feels almost like Christmas is today in the form of Basketball. The NBA season starts today and there has been a lot of excitement building up in the off season. The Deandre Jordan drama, LaMarcus going to the Spurs and the Kings putting together a team that deserves its own reality TV series but there are a lot of interesting teams with their own questions going into this season. Out of all 30 teams, these are the 5 teams that are the most interesting teams to lookout for this season.
Record Last Season: 37-45
Miami Heat this season is a team that could go one way or the other. They can either go to the Eastern Conference finals and be a threat to go to the finals or they could end up in the lower seeds and be a first round out. Bosh is coming back from the health problems he had, have a full season of Dragic to be in the backcourt with Wade, Deng is still a solid player at the 3 and have one of the surprises of last season in Whiteside holding down the center position. Their bench rounds out to picking up Amare and Gerald Green in the off-season. McRoberts is coming back from his injury and also have their drafted rookie Winslow. While those are good pickups for their bench, there is still a lot of questions that should still be asked.
Can they stay healthy for majority of the season? Can Whiteside replicate his play from the 2nd half of last season for a whole season? Can Wade play more than 60+ games? Will the second unit be good defensively? A lot needs to be answered for this team but if they’re able to dispel these questions early in the season and Wade could give you a 20+ ppg season, they can realistically win 50 games this season.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Season Record: 45-37
Thunder lost its chance at getting to the playoffs last due to different circumstances. Durant’s injury through put a damper on the team putting pressure of Westbrook to be heavily relied on. Now with a healthy trio of Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka, they are a championship core but there are some questions to the support of the team. Kanter is terrible defensively but he is a low post option. Waiter is mostly unreliable but some games he can get you 20. Their 2 guard rotation is very average but nothing too big of a deal for at least the regular season. Something a trade can fix.
The way I see it, this could be a make or break season. A new coach in Billy Donovan and new offensive system to try to work with while at the same time, Durant is in his contract year. This is going to be the season where the franchise try to keep Durant from leaving. The thought of Durant even leaving the Thunder can be pretty devastating and can cripple the franchise. That said, all that won’t matter if the Thunder can win the championship which is absolutely possible this year.
Los Angeles Clippers
Last Season Record: 56-26
From beating the Spurs in the 1st round on a buzzer beater by Chris Paul in a game 7 to losing a series in the 2nd round while up 3-1 to the superstar tandom of…Josh Smith and Corey Brewer, they had an embarrassing post season run.
They’ve managed to have a great off-season despite almost losing DeAndre Jordan to the Mavs. They picked up Lance, Josh Smith, Paul Pierce, Welsey Johnson, Cole Aldrich and Pablo Prigioni while still having Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford. It’s safe to this is hands down the best team the Clippers ever seen in its history. I expect Blake Griffin to play well enough to get some MVP considerations and Chris Paul to play like best PG in the NBA like is. Overall, the team needs to be get more better defensively and better at rebounding but offensively, they are still one of the best in the NBA. They have the team to win it all but do they have the mentality to do it and can they bounce back from last post season choke? Will Chris Paul finally see the conference light?
Last Season Record: 29-53
This is the team I want to see on a nightly basis for all the right…and wrong reasons. Sacramento Kings is another team that can go completely left or right. If games were played on paper, they have the talent to potentially compete for the 8th spot in the West or they can completely bottom out yet again.
Rudy Gay had his best season last season, a healthy and stable Rondo is a triple double watch and Cousins is one of the best big men in the game. The problem is games are not played on paper and personalities are involved. The collective crop of George Karl, Cousins and Rondo are strong-minded individuals. Get all 3 together and its bound to combust but it doesn’t have to get to that point if they establish winning together early in the season. The good thing is they have a solid bench. Collison, Koufos, Belinelli and Willie Cauley Stein is a solid bench to have and their preseason was pretty good. The bad thing is there in the west and haven’t been a reliable franchise for years. Who knows! If Cousins, Rondo and George Karl are able to coexist with one another and play up to their talent, they may just find themselves in the 8th seed playoff mix.
Last Season Record: 50-32
Another championship caliber team with a new coach in Fred Hoiberg installing his own offensive system. A complete 180 from what Tom Thibodeau did as the coach. In the playoffs, they put up a fight against a Cavaliers team missing Love and Irving but they still couldn’t finish the job. Pretty disappointing since that was the best chance to get to the finals. What’s not disappointing is the emergence of Jimmy Butler. He’s now the player where you could effectively play through. Something that couldn’t have been said for him a couple of years ago.
They still have the overall best chance to knock out the Cavs this season by just keeping their team together. Drafted Bobby Portis who has been looking fantastic. One interesting thing they’re doing this season is bringing Joakim Noah off the bench with a starting frontcourt of Mirotic and Gasol which is not that bad since Noah and Gibson have a history of playing pretty good together. Yet again, it’s going to come down to Rose being healthy and playing at least close to his MVP play. The good thing is that Butler has become a reliable scoring option so that should take some pressure off of Rose. Can newly coach Hoiberg take them to the next level and finally get this team past Lebron and the Cavs and remain healthy when the time comes?