The 2007-2008 season was huge for the NBA. We saw a legendary Boston Celtics organization regain its relevance and championship luster, thanks to three career under-achievers.
In addition, we bore witness to the domino effect of the Pau Gasol to Los Angeles trade, which set in motion trades bringing the “Big Aristotle” and “J-Kidd” back to the Western Conference.
So what storylines should NBA fanatics pay close attention to come October? Glad you asked—I have come up with the top two things to watch for this season:
Will last season’s “Domino Effect” trades work out better this year?
Many basketball experts are already calling the “Shaquille O’Neal to Phoenix” and “Jason Kidd to Dallas” trades big-time busts, since both teams limped into the playoffs and were promptly disposed of.
Yet you have to remember that both Kidd and O’Neal had less than a third of a season to acclimate themselves to squads with relative talent and a chance at being relevant, after spending most of their seasons on flat-lining teams in New Jersey and Miami respectively.
Now, both of these aging superstars will have time to really learn their new teams’ systems and contribute the way their new General Managers hoped they would last year.
Possibly with a ring.
Who’s the “Beast” of the East?
Say what you will about the Eastern Conference (and many people have—the term “Leastern Conference,” for example), but it does own three of the last five NBA championships.
Why is that? Because there is real talent over there on the East Coast, even if it is buried under these sub-.500 records and the weight of the Western Conference powerhouses.
Last season, the only Eastern Conference team you could have transplanted into the Western Conference successfully would have been the Celtics. Teams like Detroit, Orlando, and Cleveland were barely good enough to challenge the Mighty C’s for the East crown.
That will all change this year.
The Orlando Magic is on the rise, with a young nucleus of “Superman” Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and rookie Courtney Lee.
A slightly younger but still versatile and talented Pistons team will also create problems for Boston’s attempt to repeat.
Don’t forget about the Toronto Raptors led by All-Star Chris Bosh. He has the skills to lead his team to the promised land.
So this season, while you are debating how stacked the West will be, you might want to glance over to the standings sheet in the East.
Go ahead and start plotting out your fantasy leagues and making your bold championship picks (mine is New Orleans over Boston in six), so you’ll be ready when the NBA season opens up in about two months.