The 4 NBA Teams That Will Surprise the Experts
Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE
Last season, there were several plot-twists and surprises during the proverbial page-turner that is the NBA season. An Indiana Pacers squad that almost shocked the Miami Heat in the second round, the rise of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Jeremy Lin's epic "Linsanity" were only a handful of exciting sub-plots from the dramatic 2011-2012 season.
Which teams will overachieve, and which squads with high hopes will disappoint us? Here are four teams that are likely to surprise the experts.
A New Era in Phoenix
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
With a retooled roster and new point guard at the helm, the Phoenix Suns are ready for a new era following the departure of Steve Nash.
Key additions who will make an instant impact are Goran Dragic (who played for Phoenix during his rookie year) and Luis Scola. Dragic has shown tremendous growth and Scola is a solid offensive weapon in the paint.
The Suns also acquired two young, talented prospects from the Minnesota Timberwolves—former second overall draft pick Michael Beasley, and Wesley Johnson, an outstanding marksman from behind the line.
The Suns still have Marcin Gortat, the former Magic center who at times looked unstoppable last season when he worked the screen-and-roll with Steve Nash.
The Suns have all the pieces they need to win the eighth seed, and for a team in a rebuilding phase, it's exactly what they need to give hope for the future.
More Disappointment for the Knicks
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
After an incredible season that featured Jeremy Lin's "Linsanity", the New York Knicks seemed like a team in turmoil that finally made it over the hump.
Once they were trounced 4-1 in the first round by the Miami Heat, Knicks' fans sadly realized it was yet another season of disappointment.
The Knicks acquired future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd, and several other additions, including Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace and Raymond Felton— all aged veterans.
One positive for Knicks' fans is the potential of Iman Shumpert, who's shown glimpses of incredible athleticism and defensive ability during his rookie season. Although he will be unavailable for some time due to his untimely knee injury last season, Shumpert could be a great piece for the Knicks down the road.
The Knicks are still a long way to go from being legit contenders, and unless Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire can finally figure out how to make their offensive games work cohesively, it might be another long season for the Knickerbockers and their fans.
The Aged Celtics Will Compete at a High Level
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Now that they've added veteran scoring machine Jason Terry to their second unit, the Celtics will solidify a unit already hardened by grinding playoff battles.
Last year the Celtics lost to the Heat after giving up a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, and it seemed that perhaps their age had finally caught up with them.
Although age and injuries remain to be key factors, the Celtics still have the key pieces they need to go on another title run. The versatile Rajon Rondo will be flanked by Avery Bradley—the promising young shooting guard whose terrific season was cut short following a shoulder injury in the second round.
After undergoing surgery last year, Bradley is hopeful he will be good to go by December. The Celtics also added Courtney Lee, a former Houston Rocket and another promising shooting guard, and Jeff Green, a stretch forward formerly a part of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Celtics have a good balance of youth and experience and will continue to shock the doubters this season.
Another Early Exit for the Grizz?
Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
The Grizzlies were affected at times by tremendous offensive stagnancy, in fact, one of their major reasons for losing Game 1 in the first round to the Clippers was their horrendous fourth quarter, during which they scored an abysmal 13 points compared to the Clippers' 35.
The first-round loss was certainly crushing, and hopefully for their sake, they can move on and hope to improve this upcoming season.
The Grizzlies find themselves in an extremely stacked Western Conference, and with a roster that remains almost exactly the same as last year, it is likely some of the same issues may arise yet again.
The Grizz have proven they are vulnerable, and it wouldn't be surprising if they follow up another solid regular season with an early exit in the playoffs.