Very close. The 2011/12 NBA season kicks off in but a few, short weeks - and NBA fans are experiencing a veritable myriad of emotions as the lockout ends, and the NBA begins again. The months of wheeling and dealing in the trade-season will be crammed into the space of a few weeks.
I thought I'd ask a few of my NBA colleagues within the Bloguin Network what they felt about the coming season... 3 questions:
1. What's your general feeling about the upcoming season? A cramped, manic schedule starting Christmas Day...
2. Discuss your team... what's the Yuletide season hold for you?
3. Predictions: MVP, Eastern Champ, Western Champ... and NBA Champion* (surely we'll need an asterisk this season???)!Away we go...
College Wolf, T-Wolves Blog1) Relieved. I'm just glad there is going to be a season. If not, there would have been a plethora of unanswered questions for pretty much every team in the league (except the Bobcats, no one cares about them. And screw Michael Jordan.) Unfortunately I expect a "sloppy-ish" season that will probably have more injuries and bad play than usual; but a shortened season is better than no season.
2) There are still a ton of things that remain to be done with the Timberwolves. How will Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio fit with the team? And what about new coach Rick Adelman? How do all our guys get rotational minutes and steady playing time? Will Kahn make some more mores? Something needs to happen, as we've still got too many guys that could make an argument for playing time, and positional logjams all over the place. I'm not worried about Rubio's play nearly as much as some "experts" this past off-season, and just can't wait to see him on he court doing his thing and leading our team. I've still got high hopes for him and his unrealized potential.
EC = Bulls
WC = Thunder
Champions = Thunder*
Jeff Fox, Hoops Manifesto1. I like the shortened, "cramped, manic" schedule. Should be action packed with little down time.
2. As a long-time Phoenix Suns fan (since the late 80s – word up to KJ, EJ, Chambers and the crew), I'm expecting basketball Santa to put coal in my stocking this year. But as long as they don't ship Steve Nash out of town (especially not to South Beach), I'll be happy enough.
2. MVP – Kevin Durant, Eastern – Miami, Western – Lakers, Champ – Miami (excuse me – I need to go vomit now).
Ezra, The Purple & Gold Blog1. When a good friend of mine text me that the new season is starting on Christmas, I thought he was just playing a mean joke. Of course, that didn't stop me from looking it up online. Sure enough, everyone is saying the NBA is back. I thought 66 games isn't bad at all. It's definitely better than the 54 games back in '99. General opinion on a shortened season says the younger teams will benefit more. But that all depends upon how much they prepared themselves for a lockout season.
2. Mike Brown mentioned in the Lakers press conference last week that he's planning on using a lot of the regular season games as practice games to help the players learn the nuances of his playbooks. That's really not something they can avoid this season considering there are more than 200 plays (as I heard) in his offensive book alone and that there will be only 2 pre-season games scheduled for each team in the NBA before the official season starts. So there really isn't a whole lot of practice time at all. But we should get an idea on how much the Lakers want to win this year on opening day.
MVP: Kevin Durant
East Champs: Miami Heat
West Champs: Lakers
NBA Champs: Lakers
Rob (Brumbygg), With Malice1: I'm just doing the happy dance that we have a season at all! I think the 66 game season makes it meaning and not just a sprint to the playoffs, but keeping your guys fresh is going to be a big challenge. Injuries that might normally cost a few games in a suit could now mean 6-10 out of uniform and that could have a big impact of playoff hopes.
2: First off, the Celtics have to sign some players! Big Baby isn't coming back and I'm not convinced we'll see Jeff Green in... well, green. I am genuinely excited by the talk of the CP3/Rondo trade, but I'm also excited by talk of Santa Claus coming to my house on Christmas Eve - and it doesn't mean either of them are going to happen. I think the condensed schedule is going to hurt Boston and while we'll make the playoffs, we need to be very lucky with injuries as well as Doc managing minutes effectively for us to go close.
3: Miami to win the East and Dallas to set up a re-match of lasts season's final. Miami to get LBJ a ring.
Andre Purtell & Mookie Schiralli, The Fantasy DudesQ1: So, the protracted process that was the lockout, leads to a contracted NBA season. As a fan, what's to like?
Perhaps the only silver lining on the clouds which shroud the approaching 66-game NBA season exist in fact due to (rather than in spite of) its brevity.
Ponder this: year after year we are told that the real season starts when the playoffs begin. Veteran teams rest their players during the dog days of the regular season, holding out those gaffer-taped bodies in preparation for the "real season" to commence.
This time around, with the shortened regular season, each game takes on an increased importance in the final standings. The lesser number of games reduces the likelihood of injuries, as much as it reduces the likelihood that players sit out with minor injuries, "just in case".
On the other hand, this make-do season provides some negatives. Whoever wins it all will have an asterisk firmly affixed to their title, in much the same way as the San Antonio Spurs' 1999 NBA Finals victory was tainted.
The nature of the schedule means that teams will need to be ready on the fly, with little time to acquaint themselves with new teammates or opponents. Whilst veteran squads may have an advantage due to the shorter schedule (due to their experience and lessened chance of injury), conversely the increased number of games per week will mean that young squads with unity under their collective belt like the Oklahoma City Thunder suddenly have a much better shot at things.
Most important of all, it's time for NBA Fantasy Drafts!
Q2: A New York State of Mind: New York Knicks Season Outlook
Ability? Yes! Confidence? Yes! Expectations? Yes! Hope? You bet!!! Those are just a few words to describe the Knicks for the upcoming NBA season.
Last season, the New York Knickerbockers made a significant move by acquiring all-star Carmelo Anthony, but in doing so, gave away many pieces of their team. As a result of Melo's huge contract, it has left the Knicks with very little room to move for the upcoming season. Some considered it a bad move, however if
the Knicks wanted to consider themselves serious title contenders, then the move had to be made. Now, with Amare also on board, the Knicks are more than capable of taking on the Bulls, Celtics and even the Heat so long as they are firing on all cylinders.
All the talk right now, and has been since last season, surrounds the potential acquisition of New Orleans point guard Chris Paul. This is a story that will likely linger throughout this season. Right now, CP3 has pledged his alliance to the Hornets (as you would expect him to do), but you know that he is thinking of this
move, hence look for the Knicks to try their hardest to get him (it goes without saying that the move would bring them right up to title favorites). Paul has a year left on his contract, so the Hornets would be smart to deal him this season in order to get something in return. Apparently the Celtics are also interested, with
Rajon Rondo offered to move in the other direction.
Glen Grunwald, the current interim General Manager of the Knicks that replaced Donnie Walsh last season, will likely remain in place for the 2011-2012 season. One of his main goals will be to bring Chris Paul into town.
So Chris Paul aside, what is in store for the upcoming 66 game season? Well, the Knicks are still licking their wounds following their disappointing first round playoff sweep at the hands of the Celtics last season. Chemistry and health will be the keys to their success. Following the Melo trade last season, the Knicks
went 14-18... hardly anything to write home about. The lockout certainly hasn't helped, but expectations are still high..
A starting five of Melo, Amare, Billups, Fields and Ronny Turiaf, along with head coach Mike D'Antoni, does put the Knicks on the championship radar based on ability and confidence. However, that alone won't be enough. Unfortunately due to the previously mentioned trade, it has left the bench rather bare, and this was highlighted when injuries came into the picture at the back end of last season. It is clear that more help is needed inside in order to help them take the extra step, so look for the Knicks to acquire someone along the lines of Samuel Dalembert or Andris Biedrins.
Interestingly, demand for ticket sales remains strong despite the Knicks being one of the most expensive tickets to buy in the NBA, so if that any indication to go by, then both expectations and hope come into play.
Prediction: One can't expect NBA Champions this season, but a move for CP3 could change that picture dramatically. However, realistically, a second round exit is the likely result based on the current team and the competition in the East.
Q3: MVP: Kevin Durant, West Conference Champions: Oklahoma City Thunder, Eastern Conference Champions: Miami Heat, NBA Champions: Miami Heat.
Don, With Malice1. It will indeed be a cramped and manic season. And the period of time leading up to it possibly even more so, with all the off-season stuff cramped into a very short timeframe, like some weird NBA-hybrid turducken, all headlined by Dwight Howard and Chris Paul wanting "out" of their current locations. But the season itself - it's going to be nuts. On one hand, it's a shorter season - and that should favour the vets, along with the ability to put losses/frequent games behind them faster. The mental aspect definitely favors the vets as well.
However... the greater number of back-to-backs, and the presence of at least a few back-to-back-to-backs DEFINITELY favours younger, fitter guys. Whilst it's a short season, it's gonna be one helluva grind! Hard to say which group benefits more, so I'm simply going to go with "the fitter, healthier guys are going to do better"! Injuries are going to have a part to play too, whereas a week-long injury would only be 2-3 games missed most of the time, this season it could be 5... and 5 outta 66 is a whole lot more than 2-3 out of 82.
Hellaciously excited tho'.
2. LA definitely have their work cut out for them. A limited amount of time to learn a new system under a new coach. And that new system is going to be a massive departure from the triangle. Still - a veteran team will learn that faster than a young one, and from what I understand a lot of it is pretty intuitive. A team that gets out of the gates fast will have a far greater benefit this season than normal... and the Lakers are more than capable of doing that.
It's also interesting to see what LA do with the FA period. Who'll be joining Kobe Bryant? Will Andrew Bynum still be the center or might we see Superman Dwight Howard suit up in "forum blue" and gold? How will Mike Brown cope with being in the shadow of Phil Jackson...
It's gonna be huge.
3. I would love to see LA win. The window's fast closing... and I think they can. However, if I had to bet the house on it, my money would probably be on OKC.
MVP: Kevin Durant
West Champs: OKC
East Champs: Chicago
NBA Champs: OKC