by Jonathon Teng
The NBA Training Camps are nearing their end and the heavily anticipated season is about to get underway. During offseason, several powerhouse teams acquired key players, notably the Los Angeles Lakers, while many young squads are simply hoping to make an impact. Fortunately, this season has a normal schedule of 82 games, allowing NBA players to return to the normal flow of the season where they will eventually vie for the NBA Championship Title.
After claiming the NBA Finals with a convincing victory over Oklahoma City Thunder, the Miami Heat again enter as top contenders for this year’s title. Without losing any noticeable players in offseason, the Heat increased their offensive versatility by obtaining two veteran sharpshooters: Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. With the Big 3 and the addition of arguably the deadliest perimeter players in the league, the Heat are virtually unstoppable and their offensive capabilities will be enough to bring them to the Finals for a third year. Several notable teams include the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, and the New York Knicks. Luckily, the Celtics retained most of their key players. Rajon Rondo’s adeptness at running the floor will cover the offensive end, making them a solid team in the East. Even though the New York Knicks lost Jeremy Lin, they gained veteran point guards Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. However, their season rides on Carmelo Anthony and A’mare Stoudemire’s performance and how the team will function as one unit.
The Brooklyn Nets finally revamped their team’s logo and name and acquired Deron Williams. With other key players such as Joe Johnson and Brook Lope, the Nets have a lot of depth and will make it far into the playoffs. Another team to look out for is the Chicago Bulls. Last year, they emerged with the best record in the Eastern Conference, only to have their superstar Derrick Rose be sidelined from an ACL injury. This season, their main focus will be on keeping their team injury-free and hoping that Derrick Rose makes a full recovery.
If one team was to be remembered during the 2012 NBA offseason, it would be the L.A. Lakers. After securing two superstars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the Lakers easily display an NBA All-Star caliber starting lineup. Nash is still a premier point guard, while Howard completely dominates the paint. As a result, nothing less than a championship for the Lakers would mean failure. The second highly anticipated team in the western conference would be the Oklahoma City Thunder. After a disappointing loss to the Heat in the Finals last season, the team opted to keep their old squad. Under the lead of Kevin Durant, the Thunder can only improve and their experience and maturity will shine throughout the season.
Last year, both the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs exited the playoffs in a disappointing manner. The Thunder swept the Mavericks in the first round, later defeating the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. As a result, the Mavericks boosted their roster with O.J. Mayo and Elton Brand, but still heavily rely on Dirk Nowiztki, their star player. Likewise, the Spurs still win under their trio: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. Both teams are loaded with dependable players, yet their oldness may come back to haunt them when they face younger and quicker teams.
As a sharp contrast to the experienced teams, the Golden State Warriors own a roster packed with young, raw talent. However, their past few seasons have been plagued with injuries, especially with Stephen Curry, the player the Warriors built the team around. Luckily, the two young talents, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, have the potential to transform the Warriors into a team with a lethal backcourt. Then again, the Warriors performance rides on their defense, an aspect that has been severely hurting this team. If center Andrew Bogut and power forward David Lee can establish themselves as defensive anchors, this will open up the Warriors’ offense and give them a chance to clinch a playoff spot.
Teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and Portland Trail Blazers, all are expected to make noise during the season. The Clippers return with Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill, yet their playoff chances lie in Chris Paul’s hands. They all have depth, but if they want to make it far in the playoffs, it will be difficult.
This offseason, many blockbuster trades occurred with underdogs rising and powerhouses strengthening. However, the season will ultimately still be a place “Where Amazing Happens”.