With the 2012 NBA season set to begin on Tuesday, here are five things to be excited about:
5. Sheeeeed – Just as entertaining as he is talented, possibly more so, the return of Rasheed Wallace to the NBA is definitely something worth looking forward to. Now a New York Knick, Sheed brings his antics to the Big Apple. But he also brings his passion, toughness and ability to stretch the defense. Whether or not he has enough left to help his team win, remains to be seen. Nonetheless, every basketball fan will smile a little inside the first time Wallace is called for a foul, the free-throw is missed, and he yells out his now infamous phrase, “Ball Don’t Lie.”
4. The New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis is a game changer. As witnessed during his run with Team USA in this year’s Olympics, he can play with the big boys. Combine him with another celebrated, although undervalued youngster in Austin Rivers and talented guard Eric Gordon, and the Hornets should be competitive this season. They will definitely be fun to watch.
3. The comeback of Brandon Roy – We hate to see an athlete’s career come to a premature end due to injuries; especially an extremely likable athlete.They don’t get much easier to cheer for than former Portland Trailblazer Brandon Roy. He was once one of the league’s premiere players. However, plagued by knee issues that could threaten his ability to even walk, Roy reluctantly retired last year at the age of 27, after just five seasons in the NBA.
Then, shockingly, Roy signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves this past off-season with the goal of returning to pre-injury form. Perhaps his objective is a little overly optimistic, but the effort is valiant. If the basketball gods happen to smile on Roy and he does, somehow, prove to be the player that he was before ligaments and cartilage failed him, or even simply sustain a productive career, it will be something to see. Certainly fans and the entire NBA community are rooting for this to happen.
2. Dwight Howard and the Lakeshow – Kobe Bryant would probably not like that heading after making it clear this summer that this is still his team. Indeed it is, but the addition of Dwight Howard certainly changes the dynamic of the Los Angeles Lakers. Many have them penciled in to come out of the west, at the very least. Expectations should be high for a team with Bryant, the most dominant center in the NBA, the best perimeter defender in Ron Artest, and one of the best point guards of all-time in perennial all-star Steve Nash.
1. The potential for the Miami Heat to be dethroned – Or, repeat. Neither outcome is unfathomable. Dethroning could happen at the hands of the aforementioned Lakers, or the always viable San Antonio Spurs. Perhaps the Chicago Bulls can remain competitive and pave the way for Derrick Rose to return late in the season and get them over the hump. Maybe the Boston Celtics or the OKC Thunder, even with the departure of James Harden, can finish what they started last year. But that seems to be about it as far as challengers go. Although, a number of teams have improved.
Problem is, the Heat will be better as well. The rich got richer this summer when they convinced arguably the best shooter in NBA history to leave the rival Celtics and join them. The addition of Ray Allen to a squad with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh just seems unfair. So, maybe the regular season will just be a formality on the way to Miami winning it all once again. But, maybe not. That’s what makes it interesting.