NBA Week – NBA Season Preview: Top Five 2011-2012 Storylines

December 23, 2011

News, Sports

Initial Outlook: The NBA is having a late start, but it is finally here on Christmas Day, which will feature five games. I decided to devote a few days to preview the NBA season. I brought in Cyrus McGowan, who played college basketball at Arkansas and Miami (FL), to supply basketball analysis for this article in addition to mine.  He also will give some of his own takes and opinions, including his picks for Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Championship Contenders for the 2011-2012 NBA season as the rest of the week unfolds.

 

#1. Will The King Get His Ring?

Lebron James

Lebron James, Miami Heat

My Take: The Heat got off to a slow start during the 2010-2011 season, due to predictable chemistry problems. They did eventually get it together and successfully ran through the NBA. The Heat continued their march through the playoffs with inspired performances by Lebron James. The NBA finals came, and they matched up against the Dallas Mavericks. James and the Heat were in control after the first game, but James uncharacteristically became disengaged. James’ team lost the series, and he became the fodder for jokes. Many started calling James the “The Frozen One”— it’s a creative play on one of James’ nicknames, “The Chosen One”. The questions boiled down to our first: Does Lebron James have the killer instinct to win a championship? Everyone would have to wait until the NBA Lockout to end to get their answer. The Lockout ended, and then the bottom-line question was posed: Will the king get his ring? Most analysts and columnists are saying they believe that he will indeed get his ring this year. I will have to say that I also feel that James will get his ring. The Bulls will provide some stiff resistance, but the Heat will be too strong.

McGowan’s Take: I think last year they were in position to win a ship [championship]. Dallas was a lot hungrier than they were. This year, it’s their second time being together. Lebron [James], D-Wade [Dwayne Wade], and [Chris] Bosh have something to prove now. They fell short of their goal last year. I really feel like they’re going to win it. I think they’re going to get a couple more pieces around them, and they’re going to leave this season as champs. McGowan shared some additional inside info on what he believes caused the problems last year. Pat Riley, the Coach right now he [Lebron] has, from people who I know with the Heat and from what info I could ascertain last year, was indeed doing the real coaching. [Erik] Spoelstra would do pre-game and game plans — especially in the playoffs — in front of the scenes. Riley, behind the scenes, was telling him what to do. Spoelstra was just like a puppet. Pat Riley’s a good coach. During halftime, he would come into the locker room and talk to the guys. That’s why whenever they had the camera on Spoelstra, he always had that dumb look on his face like, “Ah man, what would Pat Riley do now?”  That’s why a lot of times during timeouts, when they had the camera in there, Lebron and Wade were the only ones talking. In actuality, if you have two great players and a great coach [Riley], they are going to be the ones voicing their opinion the most.

 

#2. Will CP3 Make The Clippers A Contender?

Chris Paul

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

My Take: The Clippers pulled off one of the biggest trades in franchise history by acquiring Chris Paul. The player many consider the best point guard in the league adds to a nucleus that already includes Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chauncey Billups, and Caron Butler. The question — Are the Clippers contenders? — is being asked, now that they have CP3. The Clippers are a good team and will make the playoffs, but they are a year away from being serious championship contenders.

McGowan’s Take: Yeah, Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league. Look what he did with the Hornets; they didn’t have anybody. The Clippers always had good pieces, but they could never get over that hump — just like the Bulls. They always had a couple of good pieces, and then they added Rose — he brought that team to another level. I think that’s what Paul’s going to do for the Clippers. I’m looking for big things from the Clippers. I’m pretty sure they’re going to make the playoffs — no doubt.

 

#3. Can The Celtics’ Big Three Make One Last Run?

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen

My Take: The Celtics trio of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce have had a good run during their four years together. They won the title during the 2007-2008 season, but the title has slipped through their grasp the last three years. The trio comes into the 2011-2012 season looking for one last hurrah. The Big Three have been great together, but their window is officially closed. The veterans just can’t keep up with the Bulls and the Heat in the East at this stage in their careers.

McGowan’s Take: I don’t even think they’re going to be in the picture, by the way the Heat destroyed them last year. I favored Boston last season, because I favor those older teams — because I want them to go out on top. But the way they were dismantled by the Heat last season in the playoffs — I don’t think they have much else. Rondo is on the team, but the other guys — they’re getting too old. They are like San Antonio—they’re getting old and injuries are starting to plague them. They have the talent, but they just can’t stay on the court long enough.

 

#4. Where Will Superman End Up?

Dwight Howard

"Superman" Dwight Howard

My Take: The focus the past year was about where Chris Paul and Dwight Howard would bolt to, after they left their respective teams in Free Agency. Their teams were proactive though, and looking to trade the All-Star talents, before they lost them for nothing. Paul was traded to the Clippers, and the focus now is on where Howard will end up. The New Jersey Nets seemed like the destination for the player that is nicknamed “Superman”. Otis Smith, the Orlando Magic General Manager, took Howard off the market. The prevailing opinion is that Howard will get traded, but the question is:  Where it will be? I feel there is a 75 percent chance that he gets traded, and it will likely be to the Nets. He just fits perfectly with what the Nets are trying to do.

McGowan’s Take: He’s still under contract; it’s not up to him. I know he’s not happy there, but it’s not up to him. Those guys are just trying to leave because everyone else is leaving. They are just doing it because everyone else is doing it.  The Heat did it, then Carmelo [Anthony] went to the Knicks.  Once Boston did it, then the Heat did it, and now they’re trying to do it with the Knicks. Everybody is just trying to do it. They feel like since Boston did it and won a championship, and the Heat did it and were able to make it to the finals… they’re just doing it because everyone else is doing it. If the Heat ran into Orlando, they would destroy them; they would kill Orlando. I think that’s the base of it — Howard’s trade demand.

 

#5. Are The Knicks Back?

New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks

My Take: The New York Knicks recently signed Tyson Chandler to add to their core of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. The Knicks were finally getting the publicity they did back in their glory days. Many ask:  Are the Knicks back after years of being bottom feeders? I feel they will be contenders, but the Knicks are not back. The Knicks still need a few more pieces before they can be taken seriously.

McGowan’s Take: They aren’t back back, but it’s a huge improvement from where they were the past few years. They added some talent, actually.  Before, the guys that they had — Eddy Curry, Larry Hughes, Stephon Marbury — they have skill, but it was too much personal drama. It was the stuff they carried around with them that drained the team. You got guys like Stoudemire — who’s all about business — he’s going to get buckets. Carmelo’s the same way; you get a couple of guys that can lead? Then everybody else is going to follow. They need one more scorer coming off of the bench. If Chandler can stay out of foul trouble, he’s going to board up and get rebounds. Stoudemire plays OK defense compared to where he was in Phoenix; he just needs to stay on the court. Chandler’s a good piece; they just need someone else coming off the bench. They also need another defensive big man.

 

Final Outlook: This was just a quick look at the top storylines of the upcoming 2011-2012 season.

Upcoming: Top Five Rookies Of The Year and Breakout Players

@JeremiahShort26

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