Paint me a picture of the NBA this season
The NBA regular season will begin with its usual customary splash . The defending champions the San Antonio Spurs will begin their defense of their title with pretty much the same core group of players and Finals MVP and now the fourth cog in their wheel Kawhi Leonard being a focal point of the Spurs’ lineup. With head coach Gregg Popovich also returning with his full lineup of assistant coaches it should prove to be eventful in seeing how the Spurs go about in winning the franchise’s sixth NBA title. Few teams have achieved the type of success attained by this franchise over the past two decades.
The teams have already began their ritual of preseason exhibition games , with many having new lineups. With the departure of LeBron James from the Miami Heat to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers , it has created a seismic shift within the Eastern Conference , with a number of analysts now making the Cavaliers the prohibitive favorites for this season’s NBA title. Undoubtedly, with the addition of Kevin Love to the roster , Cleveland will have to be looked upon more favorably as one of the better lineups within the conference but as to their being the best team in the NBA , is open to great deal of debate and speculation among prognosticators and supporters of the franchise.
David Blatt , the new head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers , while being a proven commodity , he is simply another rookie head coach within the NBA this season. Blatt will find his task a tough one albeit , he has league’s best player available to him __ LeBron James, along with a good point guard , Kryrie Irving and one of the game’s best power forwards in Kevin Love.
There is a distinct feeling, with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs having begun their preseason schedules , the question now becomes , what type of seasons are the two teams likely to have? Age and experience would suggest the Spurs are not likely to be complacent and it is certainly not the way Gregg Popovich is known to approach a season . Cleveland are unbeaten through their preseason schedule . The team in their most recent overcame a tough Indiana Pacers’ team looking to reassert themselves after lackluster and disappointing postseason , where they fell to the Miami Heat —- in the Eastern Conference Finals . That series told us a great deal about the Pacers, specifically how mentally and physically soft the team was said to be as seen throughout the series against the Heat.
The San Antonio Spurs having started their exhibition season with a 1-2 mark with Tim Duncan , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli playing sparingly during this preseason. Over an eighty-two game schedule, Gregg Popovich knows his players will be going through a rigorous season where fitness will of the utmost if they are to make a successful defense of their NBA title . San Antonio remains a team in its essence being able to play an uptempo game competing with the best in the league. In their most recent contest the Spurs were on the wrong side of a rather lopsided loss to the Phoenix Suns , albeit, that Popovich’s playing staff were under-manned with several players being sidelined for a number of reasons beyond the coach’s decision.
This upcoming season I expect the San Antonio Spurs to meet the challenges envisaged , that will likely come from the Los Angeles Clippers , Oklahoma City Thunder , Golden State Warriors , Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets . Of the aforementioned teams , I believe the Clippers , Thunder and Trailblazers are most likely to give he Spurs their toughest challenge over the course of their schedule ! With four games left on their preseason schedule , Gregg Popovich will hope to have his players in sync for their foray into the regular season , but first , a Saturday exhibition contest against their foes from the NBA Finals will be on the agenda , when they play hosts to the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas,.
It has been astonishing to see the growth in Kevin Durant’s game since he entered the NBA , having been drafted by the Oklahoma City (Seattle Supersonics) . An NBA Finals’ appearance notwithstanding and the team’s demoralizing loss (4-1) to the Miami Heat has not quenched the player’s thirst for his first NBA title . Accolades asides , Durant quite possibly poses the only threat to LeBron James’ dominance of the NBA as the league’s best player . What could hamper the Thunder’s season is the loss of Kevin Durant for the first two months of the regular season , with the player being lost to the team , having suffered a broken right foot .
Scott Brooks and GM Sam Presti will now have to press forward in how the Oklahoma City Thunder will proceed without their All Star . If this team is to have any chance of succeeding this season then a great deal of responsibility will be placed upon the shoulders of Russell Westbrook , with the player likely to be asked to provide the leadership needed in the absence of his teammate.
If Westbrook can prove himself worthy of the role in leading the team it would go a long way in allaying the fears of Brooks and the coaching staff. As mercurial a player as Westbrook is known to be , he has yet to show the leadership abilities desired by the coach . However, Scott Brooks believes highly in the point guard in spite of the concerns raised by others , who believe his star something of a loose cannon. Russell Westbrook has proven to be a highly effective player in his role as a point guard. The combination of Durant and Westbrook when on court , they are one of the most productive tandems in all of basketball . It is that type of productivity which will be needed throughout the first two months of the season if the Thunder are to make some headway this season , while Kevin Durant is sidelined by his injury. Who steps up into the role to be the appropriate foil for Westbrook will be predicated on the desires of this team and the coaching strategies of the head coach.
Oklahoma will begin their regular season and opening night schedule with a game against the Portland Trailblazers on the 29th October, 2014. Contests between these two franchises have proven to be competitive and that was clearly the case last season with the Trailblazers surprising a number of analysts and fans alike with their resiliency and sense of purpose . Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts and his coaching staff know that last season’s exploits were no flash in the pan with the team coming away with a 54-28 record, good enough for a playoff berth , but their conference semi-finals’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs bore the hallmark of a team simply lacking recent postseason experience .
LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard are the two players who have led to the team’s ever improving play over the past two seasons . Of the teams I believe capable of making a legitimate run of winning not only their division but also with a chance gaining a playoff berth within the Western Conference this season, the Portland Trailblazers most definitely fit the bill ! This is a well-coached core group of players capable of playing at a high level on both ends of the floor .
A fifty-four win season in 2013 was definitely a sign of the Portland Trailblazers heading in the right direction. This season will be one , likely to prove to be a real test of wills for LaMarcus Aldridge , Damian Lillard , Chris Kaman , Dorell Wright , Robin Lopez , Steve Blake , Nicolas Batum and Will Barton .
The $2 billion sale price agreed to and paid by billionaire and former Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer , if anything signified how quickly the league hierarchy and owners wanted to rid themselves of Donald Sterling when the Los Angeles Clippers was purchased by Ballmer . The missteps of the NBA and sheer hypocrisy of the team owners was one of self-serving and complete embarrassment to the league. As to the apathy and idiocy of fans who tried to suggest while Sterling’s actions were inappropriate , it was not overly derogatory damaging to the NBA. Perhaps those very same idiots have not looked at the makeup of the league’s player personnel and the number of executives and members of the hierarchy who happen to be of an ethic background . The sheer incredulity and lack of action shown by David Stern and his successor Adam Silver after the repeated acts of Sterling , indicates their own naivete and willingness to show that the “old boys’ network “ is alive and well in the NBA along with its ongoing lack of real leadership and social awareness . Pragmatism and rhetoric cannot be used as an excuse for ignorance and the allowance of racial bigotry . Yet somehow , the NBA caught with their pants around their legs, with their dicks in their hands and idiots fans still cannot comprehend the magnitude of Donald Sterling’s inappropriate behavior .
Doc Rivers head coach , SVP & Head of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers will be hoping , his team has an even bigger showing this season than witnessed in 2013 . Rivers has seen the growth in the Clippers , with the play of Blake Griffin , Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan , there is every belief this could be the year where the franchise makes an even bigger run in the NBA Playoffs and quite possibly to their first NBA title . Steve Ballmer for his part with an estimated $22 billion fortune has made it abundantly clear , no expense will be spared , as he seeks to bring a title to the franchise , while making the team the most competitive and star-laden in the NBA .
Ballmer’s willingness to make these bold statements, might well be his way re-imaging the franchise , while also seeking to upstage the Los Angeles Lakers whose misfortunes last season were well chronicled. As long as the Lakers are breathing as a franchise , the Los Angeles Clippers will always play second-fiddle to the city’s most beloved and renowned professional sports’ franchise. The Clippers may well struggle this season as they seek to become one of the Western Conference’s elite and more celebrated teams . The talent is certainly there , as to is the coaching , but it has been the complacency shown at the most inopportune of moments which have led to the team’s failures in recent seasons . This year Rivers will be looking to make even greater inroads in the playoffs than seen last year . The conference semi-finals’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder told us a great deal about the Clippers and the potential of the team during the NBA Playoffs .
Chris Paul and his teammates will open up their regular season schedule with an opening night game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles against their semi-finals’ nemesis from last season the Oklahoma City Thunder . If their previous regular season meetings are anything to go by, then the fans will be in for a great treat over the course of this season.
There is no doubt in my mind four teams in the Eastern Conference will have a great deal to prove this upcoming season ! The Miami Heat , Chicago Bulls , Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are the quartet of teams in question. Erik Spoelstra will lead a newly revamped roster into this season with team President Pat Riley eagerly looking on in anticipation . Riley’s missteps in part led to the Heat’s debacle the postseason , because of his reluctance to improve the lineup in order to assist LeBron James . As to this idiocy whereby , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade would come to James’ aid , only an idiot would actually subscribe to that notion given how poorly Bosh and Wade played during the playoffs . Sporadic and inconsistent, could best describe the play of both of these individuals during regular season , with their being little comfort in the fact Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were being handsomely rewarded for their endeavors and lack of real productivity .
I’ve no real wish to labor the issue of the Miami Heat being overrated during their regular season and the very fact , beyond LeBron James there was simply nothing about the team that would suggest they were capable of beating the San Antonio Spurs in this past season’s NBA Finals . Miami will begin its regular season sojourn knowing they are not likely to be the best team within the Eastern Conference
Derrick Rose considered to be back at full strength played his part in Team USA capturing gold at the FIBA World Cup in Barcelona, Spain. The Chicago Bulls will be hoping their All Star point guard will be able lead this team to another deep postseason run . Adding Pau Gasol gives them a veteran presence, but it must be noted Gasol is no longer the player capable of giving a team double-digit output , in terms of offense and rebounds . That much is clear after his final year with the Los Angeles Lakers last season. He will provide a wily veteran’s presence for the Bulls , but in large part the team’s success will be dependent on the form of Derrick Rose. It begins and ends with the determination of the point guard and his wish to rejoin the elite players within the NBA.
The one thing you can say about the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks and it is , both franchises will find a way to hog the NBA headlines. With their payrolls being among the highest in the NBA . There remains no real signs of intelligence or life within their respective front offices. Phil Jackson is now trying to resurrect a Knicks’ franchise still looking for its first title in almost four decades. Carmelo Anthony still remains with the Knicks , but his supporting cast appears to be an ill-matched set of cogs put together without a thought for competitiveness. Add in the fact a rookie head coach, Derek Fisher has been brought in to coach this lineup and you either have a recipe for disaster or the possibility of the New York Knicks surprising a number of fans and analysts alike.
Jason Kidd’s abrupt departure from the Brooklyn Nets says a great deal about Mikhail Prokhorov and his unwillingness to accede to Kidd’s wishes to be given a greater role within the organization . The fact of the matter became the former head coach’s belief he had a right to demand and dictate the player personnel decisions was an affront to the owner and GM Billy King whose responsibility it is for such decision making . Kidd’s primary role was that of being the head coach , a job which in part, he did rather haphazardly and at times showing a great deal of unsportsmanlike conduct and lack of respect in his role .
With a new coach in tow , Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff will be asked to make this team more competitive and to achieve what Mikhail Prokhorov believes to be a realistic goal of winning an NBA title . I believe the task beyond the Nets’ reach because there is simply no real depth to the lineup even with players such as Andrei Kirilenko , Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez on the roster . The question still remains , who among the players will step up to the plate and assume the vocal role as the Nets’ leader ? Garnett is well past his sell-by-date and his productivity is not what it once was. Deron Williams when healthy, is an extremely talented player , but that is all he is and will remain, talented , never a winner . Joe Johnson over the past four seasons has simply been robbing the Nets blind , while rarely stepping up to the plate .
Brooklyn, if they are to succeed this upcoming season they will have to overcome divisional and conference adversaries Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks within the Atlantic Division and from within the Eastern Conference, usual stalwarts the Chicago Bulls , Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers and the likely resurgent Cleveland Cavaliers. The first game on the Nets’ regular season schedule will be against the Boston Celtics at the TD Banknorth Gardens in Boston , Massachusetts,.
The NBA season itself should prove to be an exciting one , with the individual awards likely to be front and center , with Kevin Durant looking to defend his League MVP award. Elsewhere , among the rookies , Andrew Wiggins , Joel Embiid , Jabari Parker , Julius Randle , Aaron Gordon and Dante Exum will be looking to place their names on the Rookie of the Year Award . Michael Carter Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers won the award last season , where he was one of the main reasons why the Sixers had some semblance of success. Upheavals within the organization has seen Josh Harris become the managing partner , but the real problems still lies with the coaching staff and the overall makeup of the Sixers’ roster . A deliberate act or not , last season , during the later stages , it looked as Philadelphia was simply looking to “tank their season “ in order to avail themselves of a lottery pick . Unfortunately, the league hierarchy sees nothing wrong in the teams simply fraudulently taking the consumers for a ride, while selling a mediocre product to the fans and public alike being a major attraction.
Picture gallery .
As the NBA season approaches which players are you most looking forward to seeing and which teams do you believe likely will be the main contenders for the NBA title ? Your comments as always are welcomed , appreciated and as always thank you for the continued support of this site !
Picture and slideshow gallery details below
(1) LeBron James(6) of the Miami Heat is helped off the court after cramping up against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. Getty Images / Andy Lyons …
(2) LeBron James (6) and Dwyane Wade(3) of the Miami Heat celebrate after defeating the Indiana Pacers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 30, 2014 in Miami, Florida. Mike Ehrmann /Getty Images …
(3) Kawhi Leonard is seen here with San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich court-side during a regular season game. AP Photo / Adam Shelton …
(4)LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 18: Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and new owner of the Clippers Steve Ballmer, right, address the media after Ballmer was introduced for the first time during Los Angeles Clippers Fan Festival at Staples Center on August 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images..
(5) Jason Kidd seen here court-side during a game between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York on the 27th November , 2013 . Getty Images/ Chris Powell …
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