The NBA season is less than a month away, which means it’s time to start looking forward to the season ahead. Here are five things I’m looking forward to in the 2012-2013 NBA season:
– How LeBron James handles winning his first championship: It took 9 years and a lot of painful losses and moments before LeBron became able to say he was a champion. He became “The Man” for the Miami Heat and the entire 2011-2012 season was a great one for him as a result. The postseason was particularly epic, with 2 of greatest playoff performances of all time and a ring to show his maturation. Does he take his foot off the gas and become satisfied with that or does he strike while the iron is hot and continue to build his legend?
– How Kevin Durant handles losing in the NBA Finals: The image that stuck with me at the end of the NBA Finals was Kevin Durant falling into his mother’s arms in the hallways with tears in his eyes. It signified how hurt he was to be so close to his dream, only to watch it fade away. It also signified that he wasn’t satisfied with just being there. With the best scoring ability in the league, can Durant continue to improve and do what it takes to lead his team over the hump?
– Who will rise to challenge the Heat in the Eastern Conference: With Dwight Howard leaving to go to Hollywood, Derrick Rose still sidelined with his knee injury, and the Atlanta Hawks breaking up their team, the number of contenders in the East have dwindled. There are now four teams who have a chance to cool off the Heat and earn a spot in the NBA Finals: Boston, Brooklyn, New York and Philadelphia. Of the 4, the Knicks and Celtics may seem like the obvious choices. But I would take the Nets and Sixers before them. The Nets have the elite PG in Deron Williams that gives the Heat trouble, with the addition of Joe Johnson, and development of Brook Lopez, makes them a threat. The Sixers are similarly built like Miami: loads of athletic wing players who can guard multiple positions, but they have the enigmatic Andrew Bynum in the fold now. But we never know how that goes until it happens.
– Are the Lakers the definitive favorite to make the Finals: We all know the moves the Lakers made: out are Bynum and Ramon Sessions, in are Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. On paper, to add that to Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant seems almost unfair. But the games are played on the court, and the Lakers are going to need time to gel. If Nash is allowed to take complete control of that offense, things will work just fine. But with the Thunder strapped with youth AND experience, and the Clippers making significant moves with their roster, making the Finals will take more than just what paper tells us.
– How the new rules on Flopping will play out: The NBA passed new rules on flopping, after an abundance of it began to change the dynamic of the game when star players began missing time on the court because of bogus calls. There aren’t many fans of the new fine system of flopping, myself included. It doesn’t have the feel of a real penalty toward it, when players can pool money together to help pay for the fine of Player X and keep him on the court for Game 7. A better idea would be to penalize players for their on-court transgressions ON COURT. Technical Fouls, with the threat of suspensions, IN ADDITION to fines would go a lot further.
All the stars seem aligned for an amazing season, and I can’t wait for it to begin!