The NBA is more than a sports organization; it has some drama in it within the players. Players’ calling each other out, claiming one is better than the other, and starting beef with opposing players, coaches, and even teammates. It’s more than a game; it’s a business.
Trades went down this past offseason, as did free-agent signing and coaching changes, which will make this season even more exciting.
The 2007-'08 season was one of the best in recent years, and the league’s potential looks to be at a high peak, with so many players capable of becoming the next big thing, not only in the NBA, but in all of sports.
With offseason acquisitions and the athletes talking about each other, this year will be one of the most entertaining seasons in years, and these are the top 10 stories that you need to follow.
10. The return of the Heat?
A few seasons ago, the Miami Heat's bandwagon was at an all-time high. Shaquille O’Neal guaranteed a championship the first season he was there and didn’t disappoint the fans.
The Heat beat Dallas in six games to win the championship, but that was the climax for the Heat, as their downfall was the last two seasons, where they were disappointments for the fans.
Dwyane Wade got injured, Shaq got traded, and the team fell into the lottery, an unexpected turn of events. Luckily for the Heat, they traded Shaq for Shawn Marion, who will be a positive impact on the team.
With the second pick in the draft, the Heat selected scoring-machine Michael Beasley. The future looks bright for Miami, and this season, they will crawl back into the playoffs and slowly raise their rank as a top team in the east.
9. Will the aging Kidd help the Mavs win the title?
Last season, Dallas looked desperate. With other teams in the conference making key acquisitions, the Mavericks looked like a team that was going to miss the playoffs. Soon after, they traded for Jason Kidd.
They struggled against the top teams in the league at first, but got better and improved over time. Yet they had an early playoff exit once again.
This season, Kidd will be 35-years old, and Dirk Nowitzki will be 30. They don’t have much time left to be a legitimate contender for the championship, and under new coach Rick Carlisle, they will look to win the championship. But it will be unlikely with the other Western powerhouses improving.
8. Are the young Hornets going to have the same success?
Last year’s story of the year was the success of the New Orleans Hornets. After being struck by Hurricane Katrina, it was an emotional season and attendance was low. The team played well, led by MVP candidate Chris Paul, and the attendance went up. The city was proud of their young team, despite not winning a championship.
This year, the Hornets will have one year of experience under their belt, and with Chris Paul, David West, and Tyson Chandler getting better, the Hornets will contend again this season. They might even make it farther than they did the previous season.
7. Is the New York slump going to continue?
It has been a nightmare for Knicks fans these past few years, having Isiah Thomas lead the way for the team. Fortunately for them, he got replaced by Donnie Walsh. After having consecutive miserable seasons of below .500 records, this year might be a little better.
The joke of the league won’t be as bad this season, with new coach Mike D’Antoni. They will use the run-and-gun system and play better than they did in the past few seasons, but it won’t be enough for them to be a playoff team.
They will continue to improve, with Isiah having less power in the front office, and won’t be as bad as they are made out to be.
6. Paul Pierce: Best in the league?
One of the bigger offseason quotes by a player was by Celtics star Paul Pierce.
“I don’t think Kobe is the best player. I’m the best player. There’s a line that separates having confidence and being conceited. I don’t cross that line, but I have a lot of confidence in myself.”
The finals MVP sounds like he is a confident man, but I don’t know how confident he will be next time he has to face Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, who are clearly the top two players in the league right now.
5. Rookies, Rookies, Rookies
From Derrick Rose to O.J. Mayo, this year’s draft class was filled with potential. Rose, Mayo, and Michael Beasley are the three standouts from this class and will have great careers in the league.
Rose may struggle with the Bulls, but playing in his hometown will help. Michael Beasley will help the Heat become a respectable team again. Greg Oden will come back from surgery and look to put the Blazers into the playoffs. O.J. Mayo will put the Grizzlies on the map, along side Rudy Gay.
O.J. Mayo will become the best player from this draft class, with the work ethic and talent that he possesses.
4. Is the West playoff race going to remain tough?
The West playoff race from last season was the greatest playoff race of all time, as said by many experts. You needed to get 50 wins, and that was just to get in as an eighth seed!
This year’s might not be as tough as last season’s. The Nuggets, Clippers, and Warriors all lost crucial parts to their teams. They all may still have loads of talent on their squad, but bad coaching and inexperience will hurt them in the playoff race.
All the playoff teams from last season will remain in the playoffs, well, maybe not all. The Nuggets will need better coaching or another player will have to step up if they want to make the playoffs again.
With the Portland Trail Blazers getting better, and with Denver losing defensive center Marcus Camby, the Nuggets could be the team on the outside of the playoff hunt for this upcoming season.
3. Will a healthy Bynum help the Lakers win the championship?
Laker fans, Laker haters, and even analysts were all astonished with the development of the young Andrew Bynum last season. He was a monster and dominated some of the league’s top big men in his month of fame, but unfortunately for him, he got injured and was out for the remainder of the season and had to watch the Lakers lose in the Finals on the sidelines.
Right now, Bynum is healthy and is bigger than he was before, in a good way. He is nearly 300 pounds of muscle, and will look to play center along side Pau Gasol next season.
If Lamar Odom plays well as the fourth option, if Bynum plays like he did pre-injury, and if Kobe continues to be Kobe, the Lakers will be heavy favorite to win the championship.
2. Is this the year that T-Mac finally gets out of the first round?
It’s T-Mac’s year! No it’s not. It’s T-Mac’s year! No it’s not.
Rocket fans and Tracy McGrady fans have had to suffer a lot. Every season, when it looks like McGrady will be out of the first round with his new roster, something goes wrong.
Either he gets injured, his star teammate Yao Ming gets injured, or his brain stops working in the final few seconds of a game and doesn’t commit an intentional foul to stop the clock.
This year is finally the year where you can really expect T-Mac to leave the first round and advance on to the second. With Yao Ming healthy, and with new teammate Ron Artest, it will be hard for the injury-prone star to get eliminated in the first round for the eighth time in his career.
If Tracy McGrady doesn’t get out of the first round, it’s on him, again.
1. Can Boston repeat as champs?
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen all had one thing on their minds at this time last year: winning the NBA championship.
They all worked hard and added a championship ring to solidify their legacies. This season, with all of them getting older, it will be harder for them to win a championship. After losing their best bench player in James Posey, the Celtics will need Kendrick Perkins to step up, and they will need Rajon Rondo to play as great as he did in the playoffs.
The bench will have to play better, and the big three have to be just as hungry as they were last season. "The Big Ticket" will have to continue to bring the energy and pump guys up on defense.
"The Truth" will have to carry the team and lead by example, and "Ray Ray" will have to be clutch and shoot like he can. The Boston Celtics are the favorite to win the East, but not so sure about the championship. But like KG said, "Anything’s possible!!"
Other notable stories worth watching for: Elton Brand on the Sixers, Return of Hibachi, and will the East playoff race still be weak?
This article is also written on www.otrbasketball.com an NBA fan forum site.