It’s like holding it in for a long while and then finally you get to go take a leak. Sweet, sweet relief with the start of the NBA season. Basketball is a physical need for us. Here are 30 things to look forward to this season:
1. Watching Kobe and Nash together, it’s like a teaming straight out of a buddy cop movie. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. You can’t find two more polar opposites in the league. Kobe Bryant is the most aloof teammate in the league. He told off a former teammate Smush Parker not to talk to him because Parker hasn’t accomplished enough to earn the right to talk to Kobe. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Steve Nash. Jess the intern, with ESPN and too much time, once counted the number of high fives Steve Nash dished out during one match. The number is 239. He is the most unselfish player in the league. Teaming him with Kobe can make for an explosive mix. Wonder who snaps first.
2. How will Dwight Howard fit in with the Lakers? Back when the big three colluded in Miami, the anticipation was palpable in the atmosphere. It was hard to imagine a team surpassing the bar set by the Heat. The Lakers have done it. Four players who are in the top five in the league in their respective positions are on one team. This may be the best team ever assembled if what’s on paper can translate on the court. And a lot of it will depend on how Howard can make an impact
3. Anthony Davis swatting shots like Hornets in New Orleans. This may be the team of the future. Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis and how they can gel together and surprise teams this season. Biggest surprise would be if they can scrape 35 wins.
4. Jay Z, Mikhail Prokhorov and the Brooklyn Nets. The rapper and the Russian make for the most flamboyant owner duo in the league. Although Mark Cuban remains the king of the category. Jay Z has also been involved with the production of the NBA 2K13 video game. He is making a lot of waves and forays in basketball. Speaking of waves here’s a picture of the other owner:
Pretty much sums up what you can expect from him and the Nets.
5. Battle for New York. The backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson can make an argument for the best in the league. Iso Joe will take a backseat to Deron’s playmaking and we will be spared those repetitive plays of dribble, dribble and hoist up a long two which Johnson patented at Atlanta en route to becoming the poster child of overpaid superstar contracts. The frontcourt with Brook Lopez, Kris Humpries and Gerald Wallace gives ample muscle for this team to finish in the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff spot. On the other hand, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks may actually finish worse than the Nets this time around. A lot hinges on how Amare Stoudemire can come back from injury.
6. Will Rondo develop a consistent jumper? Every season it’s been the same story. Rumours leaking of Rondo putting in time with a shooting coach and teammates praising his new found stroke. This season around it may be coming true for real.
7. Rondo’s resurgence as the premiere alpha dog on the Celtics. With Ray Allen gone a bulk of the burden of backcourt leadership and scoring falls on Rondo. Although Jason Terry is a great scorer, there are fewer ego issues with him then there were with Allen.
8. The almighty boos which rain down on Ray Allen when he makes his debut as a Heat at TD Garden.
9. The Orlando Magic had owned the identity of the simplest offense in the league for years. Drop it in to Howard and let him kick it out for a three to the numerous shooters he was surrounded with. The Miami Heat will take that a step further with Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, James Jones, Mario Chalmers, all camping on the perimeter while Wade, James and Bosh play the drive and dish game. Imagine the number of open looks these players will generate for their sharpshooter teammates. A shuddering prospect for opponents to choose their poison, focus on the big 3 or cover the shooters. Burn with the Heat either way.
10. How low can the Bobcats fall? Last season they set the record for the worst losing percentage in the league. Ever. Laughable irony that the owner who played for a team which set the record for the most wins, 72-10, is now stuck at the helm of the worst team in the league. Small loophole here, last season was a condensed one. This year with 82 games, the Bobcats can set a even more legitimate record for being the worst ever.
11. What’s the over and under for how many games before Jordan finally cracks, pulls up Gerald Henderson and takes his jersey and shorts and takes over the Bobcats on the court? They have established last season that they can’t get any worse. My money is on MJ coming in after 25 games when the Cats have a 20 game lose streak.
12. Will Kevin Garnett finally mellow? He’s like the Amitabh Bachchan of the league, angry young man. Crankiest player in the league hands down. People get soft with age right? Maybe he will realize that it’s not worth it to jump and block shots tossed at his rim after whistles. Save those legs KG.
13. Will Melo finally play with his fellows the way basketball is meant to be played? He’s a notorious isolation player and last season in his absence Jeremy Lin showed that the Knicks have potential to win while distributing the ball. On the other side of the states, the Nuggets ended up having a better record with the bits and pieces which were traded away for Melo. He is in a similar situation as LeBron, but Carmelo is a pure scorer. Every scorer faces this dilemma, as long as their shots are falling they are idolized. Go 9 for 23 and the wolves come out to chip away at your reputation. In the playoffs, Carmelo put up numbers but his team still lost. Winning cures everything though, and regardless of how Carmelo decides to play, if the Knicks win consistently his reputation will be salvaged.
14. Which team will the bandwagon fans choose to jump on? The Lakers or the Heat? My bet is the Lakers since they have a longer history of winning. But it’s less mainstream to root for the Heat in comparison. So maybe since less mainstream is becoming mainstream, like a MC Escher painting, the bandwagon fans who leaned towards the Heat will jump to the Lakers?
15. The Nash effect in action. A white Canadian who is as nice as nice comes. Pretend that some other premier point guard like Williams or Paul was traded to the Lakers. And imagine the backlash that would have generated, making the Lakers the most hated team in the League. They already have one of the most hated players in Kobe, add Howard after his non committal act in Orlando and you have two of the most vilified players in the league. Metta’s elbow won’t make many friends anytime soon. And the team is the Lakers, not a good guy kinda team to begin with. But introduce the Nash effect and all sins are whitewashed. The Lakers are playful cuddly bears who just want to seize the crown from the Heat. The bad, bad Heat. If Nash had gone to the Heat, it would have led to a total about turn in the public’s perception of them.
16. The Winning effect on LeBron James. Winning changes everything. Last season LeBron James won it all. Regular season and finals MVP and a gold medal in the Olympics. And in doing so, he has shed the skin of the man who couldn’t win at Cleveland and couldn’t win with two superstars last to last season. Old skin had begun to suffocate him. He admitted he had stopped enjoying basketball because off all the scrutiny and pressure. Now he feels lighter then ever and that is really bad news for the other 29 teams in the league. The wrecking ball which went through all of basketball was not playing loose this year? What will next year look like?
17. Metta World Peace’s next elbow victim. And/or the next limb Metta uses to flail at an opponent who dares to get under his skin.
18. Blake Griffin‘s season worth of poster dunks. Word on our lips is, who’s next? First there were Mozgov, Perkins and Gasol. Who will be the next to have his name become a verb? And will there be a clear distinction this year among him and Kevin Love as to who is the best PF in the league?
19. The Battle for LA. Lakers and Clippers duking it out. Both teams have made significant additions to their respective squads and the Los Angles’ fans are salivating at the prospect of watching the new look squads from both Lakers and Clippers in action.
20. Lost in all the hullaballoo of the free agency and Olympics, quietly festers Derrick Rose. Training and rehab-ing to come back and throw the Bulls into contention with the full force accumulated over months of sitting out of action.
21. The backcourt pairing of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis for the Bucks. Shoot first, ask questions later. The question is, can two trigger happy guards co-exist and make the Bucks a contender for the playoffs? Only in the weak East can it be possible.
22. The gaping chasm in Orlando and how fast it sucks all life out of Disneyland with the departure of Dwight Howard. How bad can the Magic get? It must be…magically bad. About as bad as that lame pun, I guess.
23. Andrew Bynum looking to become the Alpha male with a new fro. Maybe it’s inspired by old Philly Dr. J’s hairdo. James Harden is in much the similar situation, eager to show what he can do, absent of the shadow of Durant and Westbrook. Funny how both upcoming alpha males have extreme facial hair in common.
24. Fans swooning in Phoenix at Nash’s return and getting a downer when they realize they mistook Goran Dragic for Stevie. Both do look a little alike. Nash’s replacement can carry Phoenix longer in the long run looking at the age difference. Not too far this season in the West.
25. Another season of fundamentally sound consistency from the San Antonio Spurs. Another season of finishing in the top three in the West and getting knocked out by the Lakers or the Thunder.
26. Potential powerplay and strife among the Heat. Defending a championship is more difficult than earning it. A lot of good teams collapse right after a ring. Bill Russel has said that the secret to winning is about the people and their relationships. The Heat should sizzle or fizzle out.
27. A new MVP, someone besides LeBron James who makes it boring by statistically removing everyone else out of contention with his superhuman numbers across the board.
28. Which NBA players will make the trip to India next. I hope it’s a former star, cornrowed and tattooed.
29. David Stern will go out with a bang by 2014. One of the most prominent figure in sports for ages is set to retire. It will be interesting to see what final touches he leaves for his legacy.
30. Can we see something other than a Thunder vs Lakers WCFs and a Celtics vs Heat ECFs? Who will come out on top when the dust settles? It seems blasphemous to predict anything other than a Lakers vs Heat finals.
See how it feels like holding pee in? Waiting to get to watch all this to play out? Will pee soon in a day.