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NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 28:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets walks off the court after a 98-80 loss as Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles after winning the series in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2011 at New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Barry BarnesContributor IIINovember 29, 2011

 

Shortly after 3:00 a.m., while some NBA fans recuperated from shopping and full Thanksgiving stomachs, the NBA owners and players reached a tentative agreement to end the league’s lockout after 149 days.

Point guard and free agent Deron Williams, who signed a one-year deal worth $5 million to play for Besiktas in the Turkish Basketball League tweeted, “Guess ill be going home soon #LockoutOver! My time in Istanbul w/ Besiktas was amazing thanks for everything.”

Colin Stephenson of the Star-Ledger detailed—in English—the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

However, the details of money disputes between millionaires aren't what matters to basketball fans. NBA fans want to see their favorite players and teams on the court.

Since a tentative agreement was reached, let’s discuss things NBA fans want to hear about.

 

When Will We See NBA Basketball?

The NBA season will begin its 66-game schedule starting on Christmas Day with a triple-header.

The Boston Celtics will take on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Miami Heat will head back to Dallas for a rematch of last year's final against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks; and the Los Angeles Lakers will face the Bulls in Chicago.

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: (L-R) LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat and Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks look on in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The Mavericks won 105-95. NOTE TO USER: Us
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

 

 

 

What Are the Bigger Stories?

NBA fans care most about what the season holds for their favorite players and teams.

Can the three-headed monster in Miami get it done this season? Can the Mavericks repeat? With a shortened season, do the aging Celtics and Lakers have a chance to win? Will Magic center Dwight Howard, Hornets guard Chris Paul, or Nets guard Deron Williams be traded?

These are the questions being asked, but there are others to pay attention to. Here are five more that should be in the mix:

 

5. Will Any D-League Players Make an Impact?

The D-League started on November 19, so it's still early, but out the gate, four players are averaging at least 28 points per game:

Guard, Blake Ahearn of the Reno Bighorns (Hawks, Grizzlies and Kings).

Guard, Justin Dentmon of the Austin Toros (Spurs).

Charles Garcia
Charles GarciaJeff Golden/Getty Images

Guard, Dominique Johnson of the Texas Legends (Mavericks).

Forward, Charles Garcia of the Sioux Falls Skyforce (Heat, Timberwolves and Magic).

 

If these D-League players get a chance to play in the NBA, they could make an impact—but they have to be used properly.

 

 

 

4. Are the Oklahoma City Thunder Ready To Win the West?

Two seasons ago the Thunder were a great story. They competed with the eventual world champion Lakers, but lost in six games.

Last season, the Thunder made it to the Western Conference Finals where they lost to the eventual world champion Mavericks in five games. Are they ready now?

Kevin Durant is.  But will guard Russell Westbrook be mentally prepared?

Is power forward Serge Ibaka's stardom going to benefit center, Kendrick Perkins?

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - OCTOBER 23:  Kevin Durant of Team White and James Harden of Team Blue talk to the media after the US Fleet Tracking Basketball Invitational charity basketball game October 23, 2011 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahom
Brett Deering/Getty Images

Can guard James Harden continue his outstanding play?

The Thunder are a young team that is capable of outplaying the aging Lakers, Spurs and probably the Mavericks. But they need to prove it.

 

3. How Will Rookies Handle the Lockout?

 

With the NFL lockout, there was concern that rookies would struggle, unable to take advantage of mini-camps, OTAs and time with coaches. 

Nevertheless, quarterbacks Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals have thrived.

 

 

Linebacker Von Miller of the Denver Broncos and Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green have also thrived.   

The NBA will see success stories from its rookies despite them not having the benefits of the summer league and time with teammates.

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 26:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after a dunk against of the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 26, 2011 in Anaheim, Cali
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Special players like Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams should not have problems adapting in the league.

Shooters, like Sacramento Kings guard, Jimmer Fredette, too should not have issues adjusting. Fredette knows what to do with the ball—shoot. 

Players like Washington Wizards forward Chris Singleton and Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried can shine because they are go-getters. They both  have scorers on their teams and won't command the ball.

Singleton is a defender who can score as well. But the Wizards need his defense, not his scoring for key stops. Defense should be the move.

 

Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl is a defense-minded coach with mostly scorers on his roster.

Lucky for him, Faried is a defender and rebounder by nature, and the Morehead State all-time rebounding forward can defend the perimeter and clear the boards to get the ball to his scorers in transition.

 

Most rookies will struggle because they're rookies. But for the players mentioned above, once they adjust to the speed of the game, should be alright.

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

 

 

2. Is the NBA Better Now Than Before?

Absolutely. Most NBA teams have studs, or future studs. When the Los Angeles Clippers play, watch Blake Griffin. The Timberwolves are on? Watch Derrick Williams.

In the 80’s, NBA games were recorded and later televised. Often the games featured the Lakers or the Celtics because they had Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Other teams with lesser stars didn't get love.

The 90’s came and his “Airness” Michael Jordan dominated the airwaves and took on all challengers. But still, most teams didn't have a guy worthy of attention.

 

Now, most NBA teams have a stud, or two, or three; that hometown fans and opposing fans want to—or ought to want to—see.   

 

1. Which Player Would A Better Fit With The Knick, Paul or Williams?

Paul is an excellent point guard. He's quick, fast and can make astonishing plays in any arena, on any night.

But he is not physically built for the Eastern Conference style of postseason play, and that's why the Knicks should go after Williams.

Paul can make any team better, including the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire would love to have him, and he would fit Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced offense well, but the Knicks lack toughness, not offense.

 

Williams is tough. He is bigger and stronger than Paul, and might be as quick. He can score, he can distribute, he can work out of the post. He is basically Knicks' point guard Chauncey Billups, in his prime, but so much better.

 

 

 

 

 

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