Every NBA season has a collection of narratives that dominates the headlines from start to finish.
Storylines define how we reflect on an NBA season. Last year, the narratives that dominated the headlines were the lockout, Linsanity, Dwightmare, LeBron James' ability to close, Chris Paul as a Clipper, how good the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs were and how bad the Charlotte Bobcats were.
Some of those stories will carry into the new 2012-13 NBA season, starting right where they left off, but there will also be a fresh crop of new narratives that will be drilled into our brains throughout the year.
Just because Linsanity moved doesn't mean he'll be forgotten.
Were going to hear about Jeremy Lin throughout the season. A lot.
Not only is Lin both a fan favorite and a cultural icon, but somehow he's arguably the Houston Rockets' best player. Take a look at some of his Rocket teammates for yourself:
- Kevin Martin
- Terrence Jones
- Royce White
- Jeremy Lamb
- Chandler Parsons
- Omer Asik
Other than maybe Martin, Lin is the Rockets' main impact player. Lin is going to have the ball in his hands most of the time on offense. He's going to get more shots, more minutes and, ultimately, more responsibility.
Lin isn't going away any time soon. Regardless of how Lin plays, it will make the news. If Lin is a bust, the Rockets will look silly for paying him so much money and the New York Knicks will look smart for letting him go. If Lin is good, Linsanity will live on.
Last season, when Lin could do nothing wrong in New York, Carmelo Anthony seemed unable to do anything right.
Anthony is criticized for his play more than any other star in the NBA, and rightfully so. Anthony doesn't do much to improve the play of his teammates; he is an offensive black hole and hasn't always been a coaching favorite.
Despite all of Anthony's shortcomings, he's still undeniably one of the elite players in the NBA. Offensively, Anthony is great. When Anthony catches fire, he is nearly unstoppable.
Similar to Lin, Anthony will be a story regardless of how he plays. If Anthony stumbles out of the gate, he'll be the easiest target in the NBA. He's going to receive a machine gun round of criticism similar to LeBron James pre-NBA championship.
Of course, if Anthony plays well, the media will be just as willing to praise him.
The Nets were a forgotten team in New Jersey. The Brooklyn Nets will rival the New York Knicks for popularity.
With the move to Brooklyn, the Nets rebranded themselves similar to the way a WWE wrestler does. All of a sudden, the Nets are popular again. They put together an overpriced but competitive roster and changed up the uniforms. They have a gorgeous, brand new arena.
How much better can things get for the Nets?
All signs seem to be pointing in the right direction for an entertaining Nets season. The amount of serious contenders in the Eastern Conference is low, they play in the New York area, and they have popular owners and one of the best point guards in the NBA, so the Nets are a lock to take up serious airtime on both ESPN and TNT.
If you thought Dwight Howard was annoying before, you haven't seen anything yet.
Now that Howard is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, you'll hear about him more than ever before. Everything the Lakers do is reported on ESPN, TNT and Yahoo!. They are under the brightest spotlight in the NBA.
If Kobe Bryant looks at Howard the wrong way, it will be a news story.
Howard coverage is guaranteed to be in full force this upcoming season because of the combination of playing for the Lakers and the fact he will be on a mission to fix his public image.
There will be more interviews with Howard than ever before. More highlights of Howard than before. Just as many debates about Howard. When the 2012-13 season is all said and done, it may be remembered as the year Howard dominated the news coverage.
Derrick Rose's ACL tear was a real bummer last season.
However, after Adrian Peterson suited up for the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 after tearing his ACL in Week 16 of 2011, it proved a Rose return in the 2012-13 season is very possible.
It won't be easy, and it could be unlikely, but it's possible Rose could return and make an impact for the Chicago Bulls. If Peterson can rush for 86 yards on the San Francisco 49ers defense just a little after nine months of the injury, why can't Rose return to form?
Rose is an NBA superstar, so his recovery will be newsworthy throughout the season. His first game back will be a dominant story as well.
A dark horse could come in and steal the award from LeBron James and Kevin Durant, but the two are undoubtedly the favorites to win the MVP award heading into the 2012-13 NBA season. How could they not be?
James is maybe the most complete basketball player in the past 20 years, and Durant is an unstoppable force on offense. The two are the most popular players in the NBA and the best players on two of the best teams.
Unless Kevin Love can lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a high playoff seed, or Chris Paul or Dwight Howard can dominate in Los Angeles, the MVP race will come down to James and Durant.
Considering James' recent dominance with the MVP award, the 2012-13 season is shaping up to be Durant's year to win it. Durant will have tougher competition in his conference (Spurs, Lakers), and he hasn't won an MVP before, but he is arguably more likable than James.
The team with the best regular-season record in the Western Conference the past two years hasn't been the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Los Angeles Lakers, but the San Antonio Spurs.
In both 2010-11 and 2011-12, the Spurs were the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. What they did in the playoffs is a different story, but in the regular season the Spurs are not a team to mess with. They are well coached and have a deep roster with numerous big-time veterans, including Tim Duncan, Manu Ginóbili and Tony Parker.
While the Lakers and the Thunder will steal most of the headlines early in the season, the Spurs will once again slide under the radar, only to be discovered and praised after all the dust settles. Everyone will gush about how the Spurs do it the right way, how good of a coach Gregg Popovich is and how Tim Duncan is an all-time great.
Despite all the coverage and praise the Spurs will receive this season if they play well, it still won't be enough to convince the general public that the Spurs are an entertaining team. People love the storylines that go with the Heat, Thunder, Celtics and Lakers. The Spurs never have any compelling, drama-filled narratives, which is the real reason most people find them boring.
On paper, the best teams in the NBA appear to be the Lakers, the Heat and the Thunder.
The Boston Celtics and the Spurs may have something to say about that, but it's hard to argue their rosters are as dominant as the other three.
When the 2012-13 NBA predictions come out, don't be surprised if 95 percent of picks to win the NBA championship are made up of the Heat, Thunder and Lakers. There may be a couple bold Celtics or Spurs picks in there, but the large majority will be the three aforementioned teams.
Since so many people will predict one of the three to win, you'll hear debates on who's the best among them all season long.
One basketball narrative you can always count on is a LeBron James-Michael Jordan comparison. Because James is currently the NBA's best, it automatically means we have to compare him to the best basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan.
It's an unfair standard to hold James to, but we love to do it anyways. When James succeeds, the story is how he's one of the most dominant players since Jordan. Rightfully so, but when James fails, the story becomes how James is not clutch and Jordan wouldn't have allowed his team to do what James did.
The constant comparison is terrible, but you will definitely hear it throughout the season. Heck, for as long as James plays, you'll hear the Jordan comparison. We may not like the comparisons, but they're here to stay.
The comparison between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan isn't nearly as annoying as the James-Jordan comparison, because there's a better statistical argument due to their similar playing styles. Bryant isn't Jordan either, but he is a top-10 all-time great. James will be there one day, but lets cool our jets and wait until he gets closer to compare to Jordan.
The reason the Bryant-Jordan comparison will be at the forefront this season is because of the revamped Lakers roster. The additions of Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks will give Bryant his best chance to join Jordan in the rings department.
Six rings for Bryant will be an amazing accomplishment. It's nowhere close to being a given, but if Bryant wins his sixth ring, it's something every NBA fan has to appreciate.