Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NBA Season Preview: It’s All About LeBron James

 As the NBA returns to competitive action, fans will be thrilled to see their basketball heroes return to the court and compete for the brilliance that only an NBA Championship can bring.  Although LeBron James and the Miami Heat are the undisputed kings of basketball after consecutive NBA titles, a series of returning stars should make the three-peat a very difficult proposition.  Here are the 5 NBA teams worth watching in the upcoming season:

1.  Chicago Bulls – Fans have been eagerly anticipating the return of Derrick Rose for months.  Just as he was reaching his peak abilities in 2012, Rose tore his ACL and has been out of action ever since.   Nevertheless, the Rose-less Bulls managed to make the NBA playoffs last season and won a series before being eliminated by the eventual champions Heat.  All eyes will be on Rose as he returns.  His play is simply incredible and he can take over games.  With a team that has proven itself in his absence, the Bulls can take on anyone, including LeBron James.

2.  Oklahoma City Thunder – After winning the Western Conference top seed last season, the Thunder’s hopes were derailed when Russell Westbrook was injured in the playoffs.  Superstar Kevin Durant wasn’t able to do it all on his lonesome, and it was really a shame.  With Westbrook back in the fold, this team should once again be contenders.  They should win a lot of games and hopefully make a serious run at the title.  Remember, Westbrook and Durant are still just 24 and 25 respectively.  They can get even better!

3.  Houston Rockets – With Dwight Howard in the mix, this team can be a dynamic force in the NBA.  Teaming up with James Harden and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets may be the surprise team in the league.  They have had excellent 3-point shooting, but now with a serious force in the middle, their offence will be dominant!  Howard will have learned some humility over his Los Angeles Lakers fiasco last season, and he should come in with a chip on his shoulder and a more hardworking team-oriented effort.  I foresee this as a great opportunity for Houston, and if they face the Lakers in the playoffs, we could be in for one enormous treat!

4.  Los Angeles Lakers – The hopes of this team fall squarely on Kobe Bryant’s ability to rebound from his injury.  With veteran players Steve Nash and Pau Gasol in support, the Lakers can beat anyone, as long as Kobe is healthy and producing.  This team could struggle early as he tries to regain his groove, but I think things will pick up later in the season.  Last season was built on title hopes but ended in disaster.  I think that experience will bring the team together and lead to greatness.  Is a title in their future, I still doubt it.

5.  Miami Heat – The reigning kings of the NBA have every reason to believe they’ll win it all again.  We all know about LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade, and about how great they are, and about how much they love each other, and frankly, it’s getting old.  But such is the way of competitive sports.  Until someone beats this team, they’ll be all smiles and fun up all the way to another championship.  But if there’s one reason for hope it’s this:  every major contender last season took on a terrible injury that ruined their season; Kobe in Los Angeles, Westbrook for the Thunder, and Rose’s absence all season for the Bulls.  The Heat had it easy last year and may grow complacent from their simple march to the title.  If another great team can avoid injury in next year’s playoffs the Heat just might be truly challenged for the NBA title.  Until then, be sure to watch the Heat this year because it will surely be professional basketball at its absolute finest!

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