It’s been a looooong time (ok 6 months for us Jazz fans, 4 months for Spurs and Heat fans) and I couldn’t be happier the wait is over! As much as I am a fan of the Utah Jazz, I also consider myself a big fan of the NBA in general. Here are some non-Jazz related items that I am looking forward to seeing this season:
Derrick Rose – I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to see a non-Jazz player come back from injury. It seems like it’s been forever since we last saw Rose play in a game. Rose was the youngest player to ever win the MVP award at age 22 in the 2010-11 season. I think that’s a fact that is often forgotten by many people. National media is all caught up in LeBron’s run for his 6th MVP award, but when Rose was healthy he was the better player. He’ll have something to say about that this season and I think he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder and with something to prove. The Heat are going to have a very difficult time this year in their quest to 3 peat. Check out these stats from Derrick Rose’s MVP season and the season he got hurt:
He’s looked great in the preseason. Hopefully that translates to the regular season and he entertains us all early and often. His supporting cast played great without him last year and I think it made the team as a whole better. It was valuable experience gained for the young players and this team should come out confident and ready for anything. For more info on the Bulls, check out Pippen Ain’t Easy.
Miami Heat – Can the Heat 3 peat? That’s the big question for the defending champs coming into the 2013-14 season. They return all the main parts to their past 2 championship runs but this season should be the biggest test for them. The Bulls, Pacers and Nets could all legitimately knock them off their perch atop the Eastern Conference. This could potentially be the final run for the big 3. James, Wade and Bosh all have early termination options in the contracts and can become free agents in the summer of 2014. It’s more than likely LeBron exercises this option and possibly bolts back to Cleveland or the bright lights of LA. How much more of a pounding can Dwayne Wade’s body take? Could he possibly retire at season’s end? There is a very possible scenario that Bosh is the only player of the Big 3 that stays in Miami after this season. Can’t wait to hear the rumors start to fly towards the end of the season. For more info on the Heat, check out All U Can Heat.
Brooklyn Nets – The Nets made the biggest trade splash of the offseason acquiring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Celtics. They have an enormous payroll and my question is, are they spending money on the right players? On paper this team looks like a title contender but all 3 of these former Celtics are getting old. This is still Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brooke Lopez’s team. Will Pierce, Garnett and Terry be able to handle complimentary roles? The key for this team is health. Deron and Brooke Lopez need to stay healthy and keep the minutes manageable for the new older players. This way they can give all they have come playoff time. The Nets are in Win Now mode which is what you can do when you have a Billionaire owner. Will they replace the Knicks as the most popular team in New York? For more on the Nets, check out From Russia With Dunk.
San Antonio Spurs – Speaking of old, how about those Spurs? I have a personal love/hate relationship with this team. On one hand I really respect what they’ve been able to do during the Popovich/Duncan/Parker/Ginobili era. It’s fun to see a small market team be able to do what they’ve done. On the other hand I’m insanely jealous!! The Spurs have stated publicly they copied they way the Jazz did things. Now Dennis Lindsey, a former Spurs executive, is the main decision maker for the Jazz and he is trying to construct the Utah Spurs with Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors playing the parts of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan. Do the Spurs really have enough in the tank to make another run? Have Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter gained enough experience from last year’s finals run to help the Spurs Big 3 win one more championship this year? A lot of hungry teams out West will be giving them all they can handle. For more on the Spurs, check out Air Alamo.
Los Angeles Clippers – They were an amazing regular season team last year that faltered in the playoffs. Have they made the necessary upgrades to the roster to make a deep playoff run? The Clippers are hoping that Darren Collison, Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick will give them the help they need to do just that. This team should dominate the regular season once again and secure that #1 seed. They will be the most entertaining and interesting team in Los Angeles to watch this year. I just don’t know if with all these moves they addressed their needs on Defense. Defense is what takes you far in the playoffs, just ask the Steve Nash lead Phoenix Suns teams that could never get over the hump. Defense always did them in. For their sake let’s hope so because the Memphis Grizzles and Spurs will be more than happen to give them a lesson. For more on the Clippers check out Fully Clips.
Houston Rockets – The Rockets won the Dwight Howard sweepstakes which is what they were banking on all along. They are drooling at the thought and now reality of Jeremy Lin, James Harden and Dwight Howard wreaking havoc on the league. James Harden is the best shooting guard in the league and Dwight is the best center. After that it kind of drops off. The hope in Houston is that the addition of Howard opens things up for Lin and he’s able to play more freely like he did with the Knicks. I cannot see Omer Asik being on this team all season long and the Rockets should be able to get someone that’s a better fit in exchange for the dependable young center. The Rockets will make the playoffs but I don’t think they’re ready for playoff contention quite yet. After a year of playing together however, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in 2014-15. For more on the Rockets, check out Space City Hoop.
Tank-A-Palooza – The 2014 draft class is reportedly a deep and there will be plenty of teams doing their “best” to get a spot in the top 5 of this draft. I’m talking to you Celtics, 76ers, Suns, Kings and Magic. The Suns just traded away Marcin Gortat to the Wizards to make sure he wouldn’t screw their hopes up with solid play. The Celtics and 76ers have players that other teams could use so they can become even worse than projected. My hope is that teams like the Jazz that are going with a youth movement as well but will be playing to win games and to get better will have a little good karma come their way come draft lottery time. These teams that are blatantly losing should not be rewarded for their lack of competitiveness. When you’re not watching the Jazz or other NBA game at a bar or restaurant or from the comfort of your own home, you should check out as much Duke, Kansas and Kentucky basketball as possible this year.
I am so glad that NBA basketball is back! This is truly the most wonderful time of the year! I look forward to watching how these story lines and others unfold. This season should deliver as much entertainment and drama as we can handle. Let’s get it started!