This is my first post since the NBA announced its return about a week ago. When I heard the news, I was ecstatic. Basketball doesn’t get too much love down here in South Jersey, but this season has more meaty story lines than any one in recent memory.
1) Will LeBron fail again? For one reason or another, everyone wants to see this man lose. It got the casual fan back into basketball last season.
LeBron James – The epitome of money can’t buy you happiness. ESPN’s Mike Wilbon said it best on the episode of PTI Wednesday. LeBron is a kid deep down. He’s thin skinned. He doesn’t gravitate to nor embrace the “villian” role. All LeBron wants is to be loved. That’s why him and Dwyane Wade were booed while throwing shirts into the stands at the Ohio State Buckeye game a couple days ago.
LeBron…stop trying to win back your hometown. It’s over. To Ohio residents that’s like Benedict Arnold handing out goodies at a July 4th party. No matter how much you beg, plead, and cry, your hometown will not forgive you until your career is long over – if you’re lucky. You need to learn how to embrace the villain role, and until you do, you’re living in denial.
2) Where will Chris Paul and Dwight Howard be one year from today?
This is a huge storyline coming into the season, but it’s not one we’ll have to deal with until the NBA trade deadline. Both players are under contract for one more year, and both want out. Chris Paul is part of a franchise that perennially fails to surround him with legitimate talent. The only reason why they’ve made the playoffs the last few seasons was because of Paul, not because of Emeka Okafor (bust) or Trevor Ariza. He’s very good friends with Carmelo Anthony, and they’re together way too much to not talk about forming a Big Three in the Big Apple. According to reports, Paul’s agent told a source his client will not sign an extension with the Hornets, and wants to be traded to New York.
I believe he ends up in NYC, whether at the trade deadline or free agency.
I used to think Dwight Howard was inevitably LA bound. He wants to play in a warm weather climate on a contender, but the Lakers won’t be so for much longer. The Lakers are old.
It seems the best option for Howard is Dallas. It would be Duncan and Robinson all over again. Sure Duncan and Nowitzki play two polarized games, but they’re both still 7’0″. Jason Kidd and Jason Terry are in the last year of their contract, which grants the Mavericks the privilege of offering Howard close to a max deal.
3) Will the Knicks be contenders this year?
Okay so it’s not a national headline, but it’s mine! I’m more excited about the Knicks than any season since 6th grade. Finally, the Knicks have the pieces to make a serious push, but I’m still not convinced they could make it past the first or second round.
Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni is the only coach in basketball that can coach a team to 130 points and still find a way to lose. The Knicks could be up by 15 points in the fourth quarter, yet everyone in the Garden knew the game wasn’t over.
However, here’s three reasons why the Knicks defense will improve in 2011-12.
a) Atlanta Hawks former coach Mike Woodson.
The Knicks hired Woodson at the end of the 2011 season as a defensive specialist. Many credit Woodson as one of the best defensive coaches in the league
The new Knicks had no time to get to know each other when Carmelo Anthony was thrust into the starting lineup in March. The discontinuity on offense certainly bled into the defense. Now, the Knicks have had time to get to know each other’s games and personalities. While that won’t fix the problem, it will help it
*c) Chris Paul
I star it since it’s not a definite, but Chris Paul would be the most important of the Big Three. I’ll say it now – If the Knicks get Chris Paul, assuming everyone stays healthy, the Knicks will win a championship in the next four years. Paul is a defensive juggernaut, and a pass-first type of player. On a team where the two biggest players, Anthony and Stoudemire, work best with the ball in their hands, Paul is the opposite. This will lead to more continuity on offense, and more efficient play. Paul averaged 9.8 assists per game last season. The Knicks as a team averaged 21.4. This pairs up with my previous point, that consistency on offense leads to confidence and energy on defense.
Paul is also an elite defender…nothing else to add.
If you’re not a basketball fan, come join the party. With the lockout fixed, it shrinks the season giving more meaning to every game. Christmas Day the Knicks will face the Celtics. I’m smiling with excitement as I write this.
I can’t wait!