It’s almost that time of year again. Wait, is it? But football hasn’t even started its regular season yet? In less than three months, the NBA will be tipping-off the 2012-2013 season when the Boston Celtics travel to Miami to take on LeBron James and the Heat. With all that said, let’s take a look at 10 questions surrounding next season.
10. Can the Charlotte Bobcats become relevant? In all truthfulness, this shouldn’t be a question. But last year the Bobcats were so terrible that they became the team with the worst winning percentage in NBA history. After trading for shooting guard, they drafted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. But they didn’t add many significant pieces to a terrible team. I think 20 wins would render a parade.
9. How bad will the Orlando Magic be after trading Dwight Howard? After trading their superstar, the Magic are in complete rebuilding mode. This team is full of bad contracts: Hedo Turkoglu, Al Harrington, Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson, J.J Redick, and Arron Afflalo. It’s going to be a very long year for first-year head coach Jacque Vaughn and the residents of the Orlando area.
8. How much trouble are the Chicago Bulls in if Derrick Rose doesn’t play this season? I think the Bulls are in trouble. We saw what happened when Rose went down in the playoffs. The Bulls suffered a first round exit at the hands of Philadelphia. Rose is their franchise player and a legit superstar in the NBA. They didn’t add much by way of free agency this offseason. They drafted Kentucky’s Marquis Teague to play point guard, but I doubt he will start. They are still a good defensive team, but they will struggle to score.
7. If the Minnesota Timberwolves make the playoffs and are a top five seed, can Kevin Love be MVP? Despite his team’s poor record since he became an All-Star, Love has put up MVP-type numbers. Over the past two seasons, he has averaged 23.1 ppg and 14.3 rpg. With the arrival of Ricky Rubio, a lot of pressure was taken off of Love. He was put in better positions to score despite his shooting percentages being down, across the board, last year. With the offseason additions of Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved and Brandon Roy, Love should be able to become more efficient, like he was back in 2011. Another plus is that he played on the Olympic team and that experience, alone, will benefit him. But his team needs to make the playoffs.
6. Can the 76ers make a deep playoff run? The Sixers have all the pieces. Now that they added Bynum, they have a “true” low-post presence. They added Nick Young and Dorell Wright to give them more offensive fire-power. The main player on this team will be Evan Turner. If he can build off his good showing in the playoffs, I can see him being the next Andre Iguodala on this team. This team has depth, size and skill to compete for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. If it plays out correctly, I could see them challenging the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals.
5. Is Anthony Davis the next young superstar? I think the answer is this: YES. I saw flashes of his ability in the Olympics when he got the chance. His athleticism and defense are far ahead of his offensive skills, but what NBA point guard can’t throw an alley-oop? It doesn’t even need to be perfect, either. Davis is the odds-on favorite to win Rookie of the Year. To be brutally honest, he should finish first, second and third in the voting. He will help the New Orleans Hornets tremendously, but I don’t think he will make them a playoff team this year, like some people think. The Western Conference is going to be extremely tough and I think New Orleans is still one player away.
4. Now that he is out of Los Angeles, can Andrew Bynum become a superstar? I think Bynum has all the tools to dominate games. Getting out of Los Angeles will probably be good for him, too. He will be the focal point of the Sixers offense and we will get to see what he is capable of doing without Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol by his side. Bynum will either flop or flourish in his new role. What is he really made of? We will find out in less than three months.
3. Behind the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, who is the third best team in the West? I think there are few teams that could end up being the third best team. The Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs all have chances to claim the third spot. The Nuggets are a deep team that added versatile guard Andre Iguodala in the “Dwight Howard” trade and center Timofey Mozgov had a very good Olympics for the Russian national team. Chris Paul’s experience from winning a Gold Medal in the Olympics should help the Clippers. One thing that might hurt the Clippers is Blake Griffin’s knee that he injured during practice for the Olympics. In turn, he lost out on valuable experience because of it. The Spurs are another year older and I am positive that this might be their last run. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have won numerous titles together, but do you think they can muster one more?
2. What kind of impact will Dwight Howard and Steve Nash have on the Los Angeles Lakers? The Lakers got a little older with the addition of Nash, but after adding Howard they are now the favorites to come out of the West. Yes they traded Andrew Bynum, but managed to keep Pau Gasol, who had an impressive Olympics. They will be a force once again after being eliminated in the second round the past two years.
1. Can LeBron James and the Miami Heat win their second title in a row? With all of the offseason movement that the Lakers did, I think Miami’s quest for a second championship will be tougher. Oklahoma City will be good, too. In the East, Miami will have to worry about their nemesis the Boston Celtics and now the Philadelphia 76ers. LeBron James is the best player in basketball right now and I think he will do anything for a second title after experiencing his first this past June.