Written by Austin Anderson. Media by Ryan St. Hill.
As the MLB season draws to a close, many fans are beginning to look forward to the next professional sports season: the NBA. The NBA is always sure to deliver amazing talent, tremendous plays, and endless action. On October 29th the Chicago Bulls will square off against the Miami Heat, and the LA Lakers will take on their rivals the LA Clippers to begin the season. Before the season progresses it’s important to be familiar with some of the top contenders for a championship ring this year.
After winning the national title the last two years it’s difficult not to put the Miami Heat on the top of the charts for the 2013-14 season. Miami thrives with three uncanny all stars: Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and of course… LeBron James. LeBron James has been called one of the greatest players to ever play, and is undeniably an absolute powerhouse at this point in his career. Along with Wade, Bosh, and James the Heat will rely on the post presence of the first overall draft pick in 2007, Greg Oden. The Heat are highly likely contenders for a three-peat title this season.
The savvy veterans of the Spurs have been playoff threats for the last few years, and always seem to have fantastic seasons, and post seasons. Last year the Spurs nearly topped the Heat in the NBA Championship. So clearly the Spurs have a consistent component that causes their success. I believe that component is experience. Like the Heat, the Spurs have a talented trio of All-Stars that the team relies on: Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobli. All three of the players are highly experienced, and have been all-stars multiple times throughout their careers. Tim Duncan is a fundamentally sound post player that has mastered the game. Some people include Duncan amongst the greatest post presences of all time. Ginobli and Parker are both veteran guards that play extremely well together, and are strong leaders for the Spurs. As the often deemed “old” Spurs age, young talents like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green pick up the minutes and push this team to the brinks. The end of the 2013-14 season could look very similar to last season, and might even give the Spurs a chance to redeem themselves against the Heat.
3. LA Clippers
The Clippers are going to be an extremely well rounded team. LA will have the reliable star power of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin this year. Chris Paul has proved himself as one of the best point guards in the league. He averaged 16.9 points last season along with 9.7 assists a game. Those stats prove that Paul can distribute the ball along with being a dynamic scorer. Paul’s ability to pass the ball is essential for the success of Blake Griffin. Griffin is a work horse in the post, and is known for his unreal jumping ability, and earth raddling dunks. Along with Paul and Griffin, the Clippers have a wide array of talents like Jamal Crawford, JJ Reddick, and (the wise and seasoned forward) Antawan Jamison. Coached by the talented Doc Rivers, the Clippers are going to be a strong force this year.
The Bulls were missing their most vital weapon last season. Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the 2011-2012 playoffs, and has slowly been recovering since. Rose is finally healthy and ready to return this season, and his return is much needed for Chicago success. The Bulls lacked a primary scorer last year and relied heavily on balanced scoring, bench production, and defense. With Rose back, defensive/hustle players like Joakim Noah and Luol Deng will be rewarded for their effort. Derrick Rose’s healthiness and performance is the key for the Bulls this year, but I believe Rose is prepared to confront the pressure head on, and lead his team to high achievements.
After picking up Dwight Howard in the off season, the Rockets have a ton of potential in 2013-14. All-Star guard James Harden will also be returning to Houston in pursuit of a ring. The question is whether or not Harden and Howard will click together on the court. Alone, both players have impeccable talent, but only time will tell if the two stars will play well together. Howard’s presence with the Lakers last year was thought to bring a title back to LA, but he turned out to be more of a problem than an asset. If he can learn to share the spotlight with Harden, the Rockets could regain superiority in the west. Regardless, Howard will bring a dynamic post presence to Houston, which was lacking last season.
Some other teams to look out for:
Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Brooklyn Nets, and the Golden State Warriors. – All made appearances in the post season a season ago, and their rosters are healthier and more stacked than last year.