The NBA regular season is almost here and there are likely 100, if not 1000, reasons to be excited about that. My task is to narrow that down to just 15.
Unlike last season, when I had a beard thicker than James Harden and wondered when they would be playing basketball, we've been able to count down the days, knowing that on Oct. 30, they will be playing ball.
There are lots of reason to be excited about the NBA this season. You have a brand new “Super Team” in Hollywood. You have basketball in Brooklyn. The Heat are defending an NBA Championship, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Teams have rookies that they hope to be the next great NBA stars. It is that time of year where everyone is optimistic about their team. Well, maybe not in Orlando and Charlotte, but almost everywhere else.
You likely have your own reasons you're excited for the season. After you read mine, feel free to share yours in the comments or expand on the ones mentioned.
We have a full schedule of games this year. That is a good thing; regardless of the NBA city you live closest to, everyone is coming to town at least once. The crazy chaos that was the schedule last season is gone. Practices and normal life are back, to the delight of NBA coaches.
Some liked the crazy hectic pace of last season’s 66-game sprint. You now can follow your favorite team and still be able to keep tabs on other games a lot easier than last season. Also, with more practice and rest, the quality of basketball we see should be improved.
Let’s be honest, the playoffs were fantastic last season, but the regular season had its fair share of ugly games. In fact, more than its fair share. This season, the quality level should be back to normal from opening night until we end it all in June.
Last season, something strange happened in LA. There was a legit debate about if the Clippers were actually the best team in LA. This was thanks to Chris Paul going to the Clippers and not the Lakers for “basketball reasons.”
Paul seemed to make the Clippers forget about their ugly, cursed past and led them back to the postseason with the dynamic and talented Blake Griffin along for the ride.
The Clippers are clearly back in their familiar spot as the second choice in their town. But it is more about what the Lakers did right this offseason, not anything the Clippers did wrong. They will still be one of the more fun teams to watch in the NBA and should be back in the postseason for another year.
There are still lots of things to be excited about for Clippers fans, if for no other reason than the dunks of Blake Griffin, the magic of Chris Paul at the point and the fact that the Clippers are going to be in playoffs in back-to-back seasons. This is a rare thing in the history of this franchise.
You know when you see a couple get together and you say "that will never last"? How can you not feel that way about Andrew Bynum and the fans in Philadelphia?
In one corner, you have a guy coming from LA that is slightly arrogant and often injured. In the other corner, you have a city that is famous for booing Santa Claus and has a long list of stars they have turned on.
It isn’t right to predict doom before it even gets started, but all the signs are there that Philadelphia may regret this trade.
Who knows? Maybe this is wrong, and Andrew Bynum will thrive out of the shadow of Kobe Bryant. One thing is certain; whether it is a great success or a complete implosion, it will have the attention of the fans of the league as a whole.
Doug Collins will earn his paycheck this season, trying to be the guy that acts as the marriage counselor between Bynum and the fans in Philly. In the meantime, Jrue Holiday will need to step up and try to fill the void left by Andre Iguodala, who was sent to Denver in this deal.
Success or failure, it should be fun to watch in Philadelphia. That is, unless you are a Sixers fan. Then you likely will not be thrilled with failure.
It was very hard not to be impressed with what Anthony Davis was able to do at Kentucky. He, unlike some other dominant big men from the NCAA, is expected to translate well to the game on the next level. He will have another very talented rookie in Austin Rivers to join him for the ride.
This reminds me of the combo in Orlando with Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard. Davis likely is not at the same talent level as Howard, and Rivers should be better than Jameer Nelson. People in New Orleans hope for the same kind of success that duo had early in their run in Orlando.
The health of Eric Gordon could go a long way in helping Davis and the Hornets try to turn things around. It is not going to be easy in the place with that nickname. But they do not have to worry about where they will be playing, thanks to Tom Benson, the owner of the NFL Saints, stepping up to the plate and purchasing the franchise.
He hopes that Davis will be the building block to turn this franchise around. We will all watch with interest and may have an eyebrow raised at what we see.
I love Charles Barkley. I cannot tell you what he is going to say or what crazy thing he will do on any given Thursday night, but I know that it will be something. He always has managed to keep me entertained.
He once made a comment about Yao Ming and ended up having to kiss a donkey’s butt. He had a race with a referee at All-Star Weekend based on something he said. The thing that is great about Charles is he can make us laugh and is able to laugh at himself along the way.
He is opinionated. Sometimes the things he says are crazy, and other times they are really solid points. He provides a great blend of entertainment mixed with some solid basketball opinions. He was a great player in his day, and his career in broadcasting has always been notable for a variety of reasons.
You may not love Barkley. However, you know that at some point during this NBA season, he is going to do something that gets everyone talking, and that is a talent.
It may take a while, but the U.S. will be reminded that the Raptors actually do exist in the NBA. It is hard to remember them, which is understandable, as they rarely see the light of day on TNT, ESPN or any major network.
They may just be relevant again for the first time since Chris Bosh decided to head to Miami. They have added a guy like Landry Fields for many reasons, some that even include basketball, and that will attract attention.
They also have Kyle Lowry, who made a name for himself in Houston with the Rockets. This is combined with a cast that includes Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis on the roster.
They were less than thrilled when ESPN acknowledged them in saying they would only win 33 games. Dwane Casey, DeMar DeRozan and Canada would like to disagree.
There is no doubt they are in a tough division with four other teams that people talk about more south of the Canadian border. They also have a dark-horse contender for Rookie of the Year with Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors just might be in the hunt to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and open eyes outside of Toronto and Canada.
They, at worst, should be in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
No one likes to admit this, but when they drive past a car accident, they look as they drive by. That said, expect NBA fans to be rubbernecking as they look at this horrible twosome in the Southeast Division. It could be quite the disaster to behold.
The trade the Magic finally made for Dwight Howard falls far short of what teams like Utah and Denver got for their star players, Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony. The Magic really look to be in rough shape, and their best player might actually be Glen “Big Baby” Davis.
While in Charlotte, they got Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, as he tries to shine on a team that had the worst winning percentage in the history of the NBA. Kemba Walker is there as well, but honestly, the Bobcats are just a mess and still look challenged to compete with almost anyone this season.
If we set the over/under for combined wins for these two teams at 25 wins combined, does anyone doubt some people would be tempted to take the under?
Bad basketball is not good, but horrible basketball can make you take a second look.
The Boston “Big Three” era has officially ended, with Ray Allen deciding to head for Miami to play with the Heat.
Here is a personal story for you about when the Boston "Big Three" was born. I was at a party during the summer that Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were coming to join Paul Pierce in Boston. A basketball conversation broke out and some people said that they were not sure about this Rajon Rondo kid. My response was that he will be fine, just wait and see.
Fine would be a major understatement on how Rajon Rondo would do. Had I said that he would become the most important member of the Boston Celtics just five years later, I would have been laughed at.
Now if Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are going to contend for any more titles, it will be because of Rajon Rondo. The Celtics have done a solid job adding more weapons and some youth to give the remaining three a solid chance to contend and thrive for at least a few more seasons.
Rondo on his own is a reason to be excited on any given night in the NBA, as you never know when he could give you a crazy triple-double performance.
You thought all of the drama was over with Carmelo Anthony when he got his way and became a Knick. In reality, it was just a change of venue for one of the most popular drama programs in the NBA.
He has not been able to gel with Amar'e Stoudemire and many feel he was jealous of all the attention that came Jeremy Lin’s way last season.
Lin is gone, and what remains in New York is a collection fit for the NBA old-age home. You have Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and even Rasheed Wallace, who came out of retirement.
It all seems like a crazy collection of egos that is made for New York City. The Knicks now have a new challenger for attention in the sports pages in the Brooklyn Nets. It almost feels like the birth of a Jets-and-Giants-type situation.
The Knicks want you to believe that they are the Giants, with the ability to win titles. What they look more like are the dysfunctional New York Jets. No one will confuse the talents in basketball of Carmelo Anthony with the skills of Mark Sanchez as quarterback in the NFL. The ultimate pressure on both is similar in nature.
The difference is that Anthony was able to have his Tim Tebow shipped out to Houston. If the Knicks fail and the Nets succeed on any level, it will be Carmelo that sees he is in the eye of the storm of blame that will come his way.
Success or failure, the eyes of NBA will be watching with interest on what happens to Anthony and the Knicks.
Is it noble or nonsense? A way to get an advantage and a sign of being a team player? Maybe it is just some terrible acting at the end of the day. The NBA has made those who flop marked men this season.
This one is a bit out of the box. Still, you know everyone will be waiting for that first obvious flop to happen in the NBA. The whole situation with these fines for flopping got a lot of people talking and varying opinions on if it can eliminate this from the game.
What will this mean for guys that have turned flopping into an art form? Will it change how they play the game? It all remains to be seen, but it will be a story we will all be watching for sure.
I am not sure if we're exactly excited about this, but we will be interested in this. I think after some truly awful displays near the end of last season, we would all be excited to see the flop be taken out of the NBA.
The question becomes if the NBA has done enough to do that. Also, what is the impact on some of the league's most notable floppers with regards to how they play the game? Can they adapt and still be the same players without it? That is something that remains to be seen.
You could not have been an NBA fan last year and not gotten caught up in Linsanity in some way. You might have loved it or hated it, but it was all anyone was talking about for about a month in the NBA last season.
Lin became the Tim Tebow of the NBA and the main story that drove some people nuts. He, like Tebow, was a dividing force in terms of his abilities on the field of play. Some saw Lin as a lucky and flawed player, and others saw him as this rising superstar. He, like Tebow in the NFL, has a new home.
Lin left New York as Tebow arrived with the Jets. What is different for Lin is the expectations of the Rockets for him are totally different than the expectations of the Jets for Tebow. Lin will be starting in Houston and counted on to lead a fairly young team to try to exceed expectations.
The move by the Rockets to add James Harden should help make life easier for Lin, as Harden can share the load in terms of playmaking. But even if Lin grows a beard like Harden, that will not hide him from the huge spotlight that will be on him.
The Rockets, by almost any sane accounts, overpaid to get him out of New York. That will make how he performs vital to any success the Rockets have in the present and the near future.
How could we forget the Miami Heat? No chance of doing that, but the road to back-to-back titles became far more challenging thanks to what happened over the summer in LA. Finally, we might get that Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James Finals.
The road to James getting the Heat to that third straight Finals appearance should be a slightly easier one. Chicago, one of the major contenders to the Heat, enters the season with no Derrick Rose. Boston and Indiana still remain as roadblocks to overcome. The Bulls will be as well if they get the same Rose back and manage to remain a playoff team without him.
The Heat also improved from the team that won a title with the addition of Ray Allen. They also added Rashard Lewis, who has not been great for quite some time, but was once a dynamic player in this league.
Chris Bosh will be moving to center this season and that could prove to be a problem when and if they meet up with the Lakers. Bosh, in his time in Toronto, actually fared well against Howard most nights.
However, in the one time they met in the playoffs, it was Howard that dominated. Also, as a Raptor, Bosh would never be guarding Howard on the defensive end.
The other question for the Heat will be about Dwyane Wade. Some feel his best days are behind him and others think he still is a dominant player in his own right, Can Wade thrive in the shadow of LeBron or will he fade into the background?
Not as hated as they once were, Miami remain one of the more disliked teams around the league.
Let the quest for “Not 2” championships begin.
It's safe to say that not many of you reading this were around when the Brooklyn Dodgers left town to go to the West Coast. Brooklyn has returned to the sports map with the Brooklyn Nets.
It looked like the debut of the Nets in Brooklyn could be a huge flop at the start of the offseason. Not many people thought they would be able to keep Deron Williams from going home to Dallas to play for Mark Cuban. He surprised many by choosing to remain with the Nets and that was just the start.
The Nets would not be able to figure out a way to get Dwight Howard to come to Brooklyn to join him. They would come up with an interesting “Plan B,” making a trade with the Hawks to bring Joe Johnson to pair with Williams.
They would make other moves as well, and people are thinking highly of their chances in the Eastern Conference. Some are thinking you might even see the Nets host an opening-round playoff series.
Aside from the talent added and kept, the biggest thing for the Nets will be a legitimate home-court advantage. Even when the Nets made long playoff runs to the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals, they never really were drawing fans in New Jersey.
The move to Brooklyn should change that. They have now become a true rival for the New York Knicks and have the same type of rivalry they do with Giants and Jets or Mets and Yankees in New York.
Add a brand new arena to the mix, and there is a ton to be excited about for the Nets’ franchise.
The debate is in high gear regarding if the Thunder did the right thing trading James Harden to Houston on Saturday night. Oklahoma City is coming off of a trip to the NBA Finals that he was a big part of after he was able to survive a vicious elbow from Ron Artest at the end of the season.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, along with Harden, all were together in the summer winning a gold medal for Team USA in London. Who knew that would be the last time they would be on the same team?
Prior to the shocking trade, the Thunder were already going be center stage as the main contender to stop the Lakers. Now you stop and wonder if Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can get it done without Harden.
Also, can Durant himself bring home the MVP Award? There are far too many reasons to list on why fans will be watching the Thunder.
Add the development of Jeremy Lamb to that long list. Every step along the way, people have doubted the Thunder. However, they have always exceeded their expectations and proved their critics wrong to this point.
Will the James Harden trade be the end of their Cinderella-like ride to the NBA elite?
The Lakers, no matter what, always draw attention. This is just the NBA reality. It was with just cause this offseason, though.
While the Raptors and Knicks were battling to get Steve Nash, they never saw the Lakers coming. However, they landed Steve Nash to play with Kobe Bryant and Co.
Then Dwight Howard seemed determined to force his way to Brooklyn in the same way Carmelo Anthony forced his way on to the Knicks. Along comes a four-team blockbuster trade and he is a Laker, following in the path of Shaq yet again. Now in LA, does this mean Kazaam 2 isn't far away?
How can you not be excited to see this circus come to town? Miami’s “Big Three” with James, Wade and Bosh was something; this is something else. When you add up all the awards that belong to Howard, Nash and Kobe, it would make for a long list.
Lakers fan or Lakers hater, you can’t deny you will be watching with great interest to see how all of this works out. Not to mention, you still have Metta World Peace with this group. He alone can be entertaining in regards to what he might do next.
So that's a wrap on what you should be looking forward to in the new season. Let's just all agree on one thing: We are happy to have basketball back after the mess that was going on this time last year.
Feel something was left out, like the Bulls, Pacers or Nuggets? We only had 15 slots, but the comments section is without limit.