The NBA is in the middle of another golden era, punctuated by the abundance of sub-plots that run underneath the obvious question of ‘who will win the championship?’
Not since the halcyon days of the 1980’s and early 90’s, when Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers battled for NBA supremacy, before passing the torch to Isiah Thomas’ Detroit Pistons and Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, has the NBA been so popular.
A lot of the credit must go to the NBA’s best player, LeBron James.
A polarising figure, to say the least, James is the ultimate hero/villain. Whichever side of the fence you sit on in regards to your feelings towards James, there can be no doubting that he is both compulsive viewing and the best player in the world. With those qualities come a lot of eyeballs.
James’ influence on the league is profound, and I’m not just talking about his athletic prowess, but his ability to garner attention for the NBA.
The process is simple. Basketball fans will always have an interest in the NBA, but it’s the addition of casual fans that always lifts a sport to new heights. To add those news fans, you need a hook. Enter LeBron James.
A one man headline, and arguably the most impressive athlete on the planet, James is hard to ignore. And once James grabs the attention of the casual fan, they can’t avoid being pulled into the vortex of other NBA sub-plots, topics and questions that surround the league. And in the blink of an eye, the NBA has added another fan.
It’s the exact same phenomenon that saw Michael Jordan take basketball to dizzying heights in the early 90’s.
So, apart from the annual debate of who will actually win the NBA championship, along with the LeBron watching, what are the other juicy sub-plots for the 2012-13 NBA season?
Mum always taught me not to answer a question with a question, but she never said I couldn’t answer a question with questions.
And the 2012/13 NBA season is full of them.
• Do the ageing San Antonio Spurs have one last run in them?
• The Orlando Magic are finally free of the Dwightmare, but did they get enough back for him?
• Now that they finally have a bench, can the Boston Celtics compete for the title again?
• Will the Charlotte Bobcats set the all-time NBA record for losses in one season?
• Is New Orleans Hornet Anthony Davis an absolute lock for the Rookie of the Year trophy?
• Can the Indiana Pacers compete with the top teams without a true superstar?
• Where did the roster from the Dallas Mavericks championship team go?
• What does life after Joe Johnson look like for the Atlanta Hawks?
• When will the Chicago Bulls’, and league MVP, Derrick Rose return from his horrific ACL injury?
• Will the New Yorks Knicks pairing of Amare Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony ever work?
• Will the revamped Lakers squad, with the addition of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, gel enough to challenge the Miami Heat for the championship?
• Are the Toronto Raptors still in the league?
• Can Andrew Bogut stay healthy and contribute for his new team, the Golden State Warriors?
• How will the young and talented Oklahoma City Thunder respond to their NBA Finals meltdown last year?
• Was the Houston Rocket’s massive contract to Jeremy Lin a shrewd move, or was Linsanity a fluke?
• When will the Minnesota Timberwolves Ricky Rubio be back from injury? And does Brandon Roy have any knee cartilage left?
• Can Andre Iguodala elevate the Denver Nuggets to legitimate contenders?
• Is John Wall ready to have a break-out year for the Washington Wizards?
• Can the relocated Brooklyn Nets rid themselves of the foul stench of New Jersey?
• Does anyone know what the Detroit Pistons plan is?
• Is Andrew Bynum ready to be the number one option for the Philadelphia 76ers?
• Do the Phoenix Suns have the most intriguing roster in the league?
• What are the Sacramento Kings going to do with their 16 guards?
• Will the Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis backcourt work for the Milwaukee Bucks?
• Can the Memphis Grizzlies win back their ‘championship sleeper’ tag?
• Are the Los Angele Clippers for real, or just fun to watch?
• Is the Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving one of the top 15 players in the league?
• Are the Portland Trailblazers stuck in no-mans land? Not good enough to win the title, not bad enough to win the Draft Lottery?
And those questions and sub-plots are just the tip of the iceberg.
The season tips-off on October 31st, and over the coming weeks, Roar Experts will analyse some of the most interesting teams in the league.
In a preview for the 2012/13 season, we’ll pose, and answer, the three key questions facing each club as they compete for the NBA Championship.