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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Five Reasons to Pay Attention to the NBA

The NBA season got underway this week.  I know that brings a big yawn and an emphatic shoulder shrug from a lot of you.  Yeah, I know there are 82 games.  And I know that half the league makes the playoffs.  But, I also know that there are a lot of fun things to watch during this season.  Here are five reasons to pay attention to the NBA this season.

1.  Return of D-Rose to Chicago.  The Miami Heat have won the last two NBA championships, but they didn't have to face the 2010-2011 MVP to get either one of those titles.  Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the first round of the playoffs in April of 2012.  That injury kept Rose out for all of last season.  Despite having to push on without their best player, the Chicago Bulls still made it to the second round of the playoffs last year and challenged the Heat in a very physical series that was closer than the 5-game elimination would indicate.  This year, Derrick Rose returns to the Bulls at full strength.  It will be a treat to watch him rejoin a group of teammates that were all forced to grow in his absence.

2.  Kobe's Last Gasp.  Maybe this is actually more of a death rattle.  Kobe Bryant is 35 years old.  This will be his 18th season in the NBA.  And last season ended prematurely when he tore his achilles with just a few games left in the regular season.  Bryant currently has five championship rings, and it is pretty clear that he is consumed by the goal of matching Michael Jordan's six championships.  The problem is that when Kobe returns from this devastating injury, he'll be coming back to a terrible roster led by a lousy coach and a clueless heir in the front office.  This set of circumstances will certainly lead to some excellent post game quotes from the Black Mamba.

3.  Superman in Houston.  Yeah, the Dwight Howard drama over the past two seasons was annoying.  But, now that Superman has a permanent home, it will be interesting to see how things develop.  The Houston Rockets are a perfect fit for Howard.  It's a big enough market to be a big star, but the spot light is not so bright that Dwight should be blinded.  James Harden, the other star on this team, is used to being second fiddle and seemed comfortable in that role when he was winning the 6th Man of the Year award in OKC.  And, Dwight now has a coach in Kevin McHale that can teach him everything he was lacking in his offensive game.

4.  The New Look Nets.  It's cool that Brooklyn has a team.  It's even cooler that the Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov opened up his wallet to make sure the Nets make a serious playoff fun in their second year in the Big Apple.  The Nets already had a solid team with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez.  But they made a big splash this offseason by adding two future hall of famers in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.   Prokhorov was also able to convince fellow Russian Andrei Kirilenko to take a $7 million pay cut to come to the Nets.  It will be interesting to see if the Nets can challenge the Heat in the East.

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
5.  Good Times in Golden State.  The basketball world is simply better when the Golden State Warriors have a good team.  Last year, the Warriors became the darlings of the playoffs when they upset the Nuggets in the first round and stole two games from the Spurs in the next round.  Led by sharpshooting and youthful guards, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors play a free-flowing and exciting brand of basketball.  And, for this season, they have added a lock-down defender with Team USA credentials in Andre Iguodala.  The Warriors might still be too young to make a serious run at the title.  But, the run will be fun to watch.

These are just five of the many fun reasons to watch the NBA this season.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.

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