The most anticipated NBA season?
We are less than 24 hours away from the start of the 2012/13 NBA season.
It seems like only last week the Miami Heat were trouncing a lacklustre Oklahoma City Thunder in game five of the finals, Dwight Howard was playing in Orlando, there was a team in New Jersey, and Ray Allen was a Celtic.
What a difference four months makes. The Dwightmare is over for now and he appears to settled as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Brooklyn Nets are ready to shine in the big city with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson at the helm and LeBron and company are ready to defend the title he finally achieved.
Steve Nash joined the Lakers, Ray Allen joined the Heat, James Harden and Jeremy Lin became Rockets, Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas are playing in China and Brian Scalabrine retired.
There may not have been a more anticipated NBA season in recent memory. The new look Lakers with Nash and Howard in tow who will look to accomplish the one accolade missing from their resumes and in turn help Kobe Bryant win his sixth NBA title.
The battle of the west will not be won easily though, the Thunder will look to go one better than last seasons’ four games to one finals loss to Miami.
Having traded Sixth Man of the Year James Harden to Houston this week, the reigning Western Conference Champions will need to find something extra from the team that was so close and yet at times during the decider so far away last season.
The Lakers and the Thunder are not the only big guns out west. The Denver Nuggets with their addition of Andre Iguodala, the development of Ty Lawson and the promise of JaVale McGee will sting a few unsuspecting teams this year and could be a piece or two away from being a genuine conference final contender.
The west will also showcase the big comeback story of Brandon Roy who will suit up for the Minnesota Timberwolves after coming out of retirement.
The guard will join All Star Kevin Love, Spanish rookie sensation Ricky Rubio and form Utah Jazz stalwart Andrei Kirilenko in a Wolves team desperate to make the playoffs.
The New Orleans Hornets commence the post-Chris Paul era with the number one draft pick of last year, Anthony Davis, taking the floor in his rookie season. The Hornets won’t be easy beats this year having acquired Robin Lopez from Phoenix and Ryan Anderson from Orlando to play alongside Eric Gordon and should push for a spot in playoffs.
In the eastern conference, the all-conquering Miami Heat are hoping to repeat the effort of last year and claim back to back NBA championships. Their roster only became stronger during the off season with the addition of Rashad Lewis and of course Celtic champion Ray Allen.
On opening night, all eyes will be on Miami as the Heat players receive the championship rings and unveil their banner. But those eyes will soon turn to the court as Allen battles his old teammates for the first time.
The battle will be won or lost on opening night, but the war will drag out over the coming months. Regardless of his motivations and reasoning, Allen is now in a better place to add another title to his collection than Paul Peirce, Rajon Rondo or Kevin Garnett.
The New York Knicks are on track to be the oldest team in the history of the NBA and with the addition of Rasheed Wallace they won’t be getting any younger. It’s now or never time for Carmelo Anthony who has promised so much over his career but failed to deliver on the biggest of stages.
Along with Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, the now Jeremy Lin-less Knicks will need to put on a show to upstage cross their cross town rivals in Brooklyn. The Nets, who secured Deron Williams for the long haul in the offseason will be looking to rid themselves of the failures that carried with them in New Jersey.
With Joe Johnson on board the Nets versus Knicks rivalry is sure to heat up the east coast.
In Philadelphia, fans will wait with baited breath to see if Andrew Bynum can stand up and lead a team and in Milwaukee the Bucks will be hoping that the Brandon Jennings/Monta Ellis backcourt will propel them up the standings in the east.
After a fairly successful campaign last season, the Indiana Pacers will be looking to take yet another step forward while the Atlanta Hawks will hope they can remain competitive with Josh Smith in control of the team after the departure of Joe Johnson.
It might feel like yesterday that it finished, but I’m sure glad that it’s back!
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