Now that you have an understanding of which teams and players will excel this upcoming season, there are also some key storylines that don’t involve those players. There will certainly be other issues that develop as the season wears on, such as the collective bargaining agreement and how tight the referees call the updated technical foul rules, but the next four story lines will make you look good at the water cooler right now.
Can the Miami Heat win 73 games? Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls set the NBA record for wins in a season with 72 in 1996. One of their 10 losses was to the expansion Toronto Raptors, could that be the loss that gives the record to the Heat. Obviously, the Miami Heat have some work to do, but with three of the top 15 players in the league, home crowds will be behind them 110%, but the only thing that might be able to stop them is themselves. Whether it is injuries or sluggish performances against lower tier teams, these are all things that could cost them the record. It will be interesting to see how they react when they hit loss 11.
How bad will the Raptors be? The Raptors have had to overhaul their roster for the second straight season. General Manager Bryan Colangelo isn’t shy about fixing his mistakes quickly. The Raptors lost Chris Bosh in free agency and then traded away the disgruntled Hedo Turkoglu. Joining the team are a collection of players who are better off buried on an NBA D-League team bench. The Raptors lack a true scoring threat, and will rely on former number one overall draft pick Andrea Bargnani and last year’s first round pick DeMar DeRozan to pick up the slack left by Bosh. Last season, the Raptors were a poor defensive team, allowing other teams score at will in the paint and failing to control the boards. This season should be no different. The players the Raptors added don’t address these shortcomings in the least. It will be a long season in Toronto, while the Heat will be going for 73 wins, the Raptors might be trying to avoid 73 losses.
The Wild Western Conference – The Lakers are still the class of the Western conference, but after they claim home court advantage throughout the playoffs, what follows is a mystery. There are several teams who have one last chance to make a title run including the Mavericks, Spurs and Suns. There are teams like Utah, Houston and Portland who have all had injury troubles, but definitely have the talent to contend. Up and coming teams like Oklahoma City and Memphis also want to make a name for themselves in the playoffs. Then you have the Denver Nuggets who are a contender with Carmelo Anthony, but without him, they are on the outside looking in. Minnesota and the LA Clippers both have pieces in place to be able to win against any of the top teams on any given night. Either team might just be one trade or another high draft pick away from being a challenger for the title.
Where will Carmelo Anthony land?
This past summer was the biggest of all-time in terms of the caliber of players available in free agency. Many teams cleared cap space in an attempt to sign one of the big name free agents. For those that didn’t succeed there is one more player that will be available – Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately for Nuggets fans, Anthony has already expressed interest in leaving Denver after the season. The Nuggets’ situation is similar to what happened to the Raptors with Chris Bosh, where there was very little chance of Bosh re-signing. But the Raptors took a chance and didn’t trade him during the season. Once Bosh left in the summer, with the exception of exempt cap space, they didn’t get anything tangible in return. The Nuggets saw all of this unfold and will be doing just about everything to avoid the same fate. Where Carmelo Anthony is traded during the season could drastically affect how the playoffs unfold.
To follow me on twitter click HERE