As the NBA season draws closer and the anticipation increases, let’s take a look at five teams to watch this season.
5. Boston Celtics – A veteran team always plays better on two days rest as oppose to one days rest. So what do you think two months more of rest will do for one of the oldest teams in the NBA? Given they are in shape, I think the Celtics will get off to a hot start right from the get-go. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo are ready to get back at it. Now, they still need to iron some things out via free agency because they only have eight players on the roster and six under contract. Danny Ainge always seems to figure it out. If this team wants to be a threat to the Miami Heat, forward Jeff Green is going to need to step his game up.
4. Los Angeles Lakers – I feel that the Lakers are going to be out for revenge this season, and they should be. They got blown out, embarrassed, crushed, destroyed, exposed, and laughed at while the Dallas Mavericks advanced to the Western Conference Finals. I haven’t heard much from Kobe Bryant, besides the fact that he almost went to go play in Italy, but I have a feeling that he has been up to something this extended offseason. Even with a new coach in Mike Brown, I expect the Lakers to compete in the Western Conference for a chance to go to the NBA Finals. If they get Dwight Howard, they will win the championship. It’s a wrap.
3. Los Angeles Clippers – They have a nice, young core. Blake Griffin is going to be a monster, if he ever decides to develop a jump shot. Eric Gordon is coming back from injury and he could end up being the best player on that team by the end of the season. DeAndre Jordan is a defensive force, but needs to improve his rebounding numbers. Chris Kaman, Eric Bledsoe, and Al Farouq Aminu are serviceable players that can make a difference on any team. With the shortened season, the Clippers are now a contender for the playoffs. They are better than, at least, seven teams in the West, but only time will tell.
2. Philadelphia 76ers – The 76ers have a nice group of players. Head coach Doug Collins got them to battle the Miami Heat in the playoffs, even though they lost the series 4-1. Jrue Holiday grew up during the playoffs and I expect him to have a big year. Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala, Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, and Jodie Meeks got valuable experience in the playoffs and should use that to their advantage in this lockout-shortened season. I expect the 76ers to make it back to the playoffs.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – The Wolves are loaded with young, talented, and unproven players. Kevin Love is the only established star, but Anthony Randolph, Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson, Ricky Rubio, and Derrick Williams are bubbling with talent. The addition of Rubio and Williams will put people in the seats because fans are excited to see what these guys can do under new head coach Rick Adelman. There is no doubt that this team can score, but the reason they lost so many games last season was because they played zero, and I mean ZERO, defense. Adelman should change that culture a bit, and make this team a little more efficient offensively. I don’t expect them to make the playoffs, but I expect them to make strides this season.