NBA Lockout: Players We're Most Excited to See When Season Starts

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent INovember 26, 2011

NBA Lockout: Players We're Most Excited to See When Season Starts

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    The NBA Lockout isn't officially over, but fans have been waiting too long to temper their excitement now. There are multiple players whom the public is anxiously awaiting to see from the young studs to their older counterparts.

    The Western Conference is loaded with fresh talent with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers. These squads are itching to dismantle the old guard of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.

    The Eastern Conference has some exciting young talent headlined by John Wall. The story will continue to be dominated by the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls but the New York Knicks are looking to enter the discussion.

    Either way, it's nice to read something that doesn't include the words "basketball related income."

Kobe Bryant's Last Stand Against the Young Guns

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    The 2010-2011 Los Angeles Lakers didn't follow the normal script for its postseason. The Lakers were swept out of the second round by the eventual champion—the Dallas Mavericks.

    Kobe Bryant has carried a chip on his shoulder his entire career. He is undoubtedly keeping track of every person who proclaims that the final chapter of his career has already been written.

    An offseason procedure performed in Germany may add some life to Kobe's ailing knees. If so, the Lakers may have one more championship effort left in the tank.  

Kevin Durant Is the Leader of the Young Guns

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    Kevin Durant has been killing time in between gym sessions and pickup games laying down tracks in his studio. The Oklahoma City Thunder star can finally return to his Kansas City kingdom with the sole intention of playing basketball.

    Durant captured his second straight scoring title last year and led the Thunder to its first two playoff series wins. Oklahoma City is currently projected as the fourth most likely team to win the NBA championship with 7/1 odds.

    Similar to the rest of his team, Durant is only 23 years old and has barely scratched the surface of his immense potential. The Thunder have possibly built a dynasty but will only succeed so long as the team's chemistry remains strong. 

The Oklahoma City Thunder Need Russell Westbrook to Buy in

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    Russell Westbrook holds the key to the Oklahoma City Thunder's future. The young point guard busted out last year and proved to be the quality running mate that Kevin Durant required.

    Westbrook must understand that he is the second option of the Thunder's potent attack. His usage number was slightly higher than Durant's meaning the possession ended with the ball in his hands more often than the league's scoring leader. 

    If Russell can find the right balance, the Thunder may be the best bet to prevail next June.

Blake Griffin Is Ready to Ascend from Prince to King of LA

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    The Los Angeles Clippers have been the jester to the Los Angeles Lakers King since the team's inception. Blake Griffin's explosive entertainment gives the Clippers a legitimate chance to loosen an aging Kobe Bryant's hold on the city.

    Griffin set the NBA on fire with his electrifying dunks in his first NBA season. Shooting guard Eric Gordon will prove to be the complement that Griffin needs to make some legitimate noise this postseason.

    The team was able to unload Baron Davis' albatross of a contract which frees them up to make a move during this abbreviated offseason. Clippers fans may finally be rewarded for their loyalty with a team that allows them to hold their heads' high when arguing with Lakers fans. 

Ricky Rubio Makes His Long-Awaited Stateside Debut

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    Ricky Rubio has had NBA scouts and fans drooling over his talent since he was 16 years old. His play for the Spanish National Team introduced him to the world, but few in the United States have seen him over the last three years.

    Rubio was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009 with the fifth overall pick in the NBA draft. Negotiations were held regarding a buyout of his European league contract, but it soon became evident that the Wolves would have to wait.

    The wait is finally over and not a moment too soon. General manager David Kahn does not have much time left, meaning he desperately needs Rubio to deliver on the hype.  

Can Carmelo Anthony Make the New York Knicks a Contender?

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    Amar'e Stoudemire began a revitalization of the New York Knicks which inspired hope in the dejected fanbase. Carmelo Anthony's arrival signaled to some that the Knicks were a legitimate playoff contender.

    The hope proved to be fool's gold. The Knicks were much improved but not a credible threat to the holy triumvirate of the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls.

    This season will provide the opportunity to alter that reality.

    However, all the blame (or credit) should not be heaped on the two superstars. The front office must find a way to surround them with better complementary players. 

John Wall Has Resurrected the Moribund Washington Wizards

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    The Washington Wizards had a bright future when Gilbert Arenas was filling the stat sheet instead of his holster.

    Enter John Wall. The true Rookie of the Year (since Blake Griffin was actually drafted the previous year) brought his vision (8.3 assists per game) and athleticism to the nation's capitol.

    Washington's first-round pick, Jan Vesely aka "The Dunking Ninja," will be on the receiving end of numerous alley-oops from Wall. Wizards fans will be jumping out of their seats all season.