With the NHL locked out right now, many students around campus are discouraged by this year’s lack of winter sports. Hockey fans, however, should consider following the NBA season instead. There were several big name trades this year during the off-season that created at least 8 championship contenders. The competition level of the NBA this year is at a historically high level, and the season should pan out with a lot of teams being playoff contenders late in the year.
Since LeBron James finally won a title last season, I can assure you that this year will not be all about the Miami Heat. Big off-season moves from the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and many more have stolen the spotlight of media attention from the Heat. Then there are also the teams that didn’t make huge moves that still have the potential to be powerhouses, like the Oklahoma City Thunder. Basically, there are going to be many teams fighting for a few playoff spots. There will not be as many “bad” teams this year due to the excess of talent in last year’s draft. The NBA may finally be a league not dominated by LeBron James, and there will definitely be a lot of stories around the league.
Based on the many moves made, I have reason to believe that the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers will be the two best teams in the West. The Lakers will need some time for their stars to blend, similar to the situation a couple years ago with the Heat. I do believe that after some time that the Lakers will emerge as championship contenders, but the Clippers, Mavericks, Spurs, Rockets and Thunder are sure to make their first season together difficult.
In the East, the defending champion Miami Heat is still the best team in my mind, but if Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls can fully heal from his knee injury, the Bulls could prove to be stiff competition as well. I think that the New York Knicks made some important moves in the off-season by picking up Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton as well, but they have yet to prove that they can compete with other playoff teams. The Knicks are a playoff team, but to be a contender they will have to prove that they can win big games against other championship-caliber teams.
With many teams having the talent to win the title this year, the 2012-2013 NBA season should be exciting to follow. Don’t give up sports because of the NHL Lockout; instead use the time to become more involved in the NBA. You will hear about stories surrounding the NBA whether you want to or not, so why not have knowledge of what they are talking about?