A new season is upon us, with no labor strife to delay things and a full off-season behind. As always, a lot of players changed teams, and a lot of teams changed their outlooks for better or worse. Howard to L.A., Harden to Houston, and lots of other stuff. Other than the Wolves, here are some of the things I'm looking forward to seeing as this season unfolds:
Brooklyn is once again a major league city. Their new arena is about a 15 minute walk from where I used to live, and there's a lot of good Middle Eastern food around there. More to the point, it's an interesting team, but one that seems to me to have a chance to be less then the sum of the parts. For a club with an $85M payroll, they have very little depth. I have a feeling we might be at the beginning of the end for Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, and Brook Lopez just isn't very good. They have great design for their logos, though, and it's Brooklyn. 99 problems...
Can the Celtics remain relevant? I tend to expect things to go south for old teams sooner then the actually do, so it's easy for me to see the Celtics completely breaking down with Garnett, Terry, and Pierce on the clear downside of their careers. Of course, I've expected the same thing from the Spurs for the last 2-3 seasons, and they are still pounding out monster seasons. It's obviously easier to cruise in the Eastern Conference, which should allow them to rest in season, but man they are old. I'll always root for KG, but at some point it ends. Age is undefeated.
Everyone gets to see how good Andre Inguodala is. I think Philly is going to really suffer (while Denver thrives with Iggy providing something they haven't had on the wing) without him. Knee problems are already cropping up for their big acquisition, and they really failed to replace Iggy with comparable talent. Nick Young and Jason Richardson are now on the roster instead of Iggy and Lou Williams. That's...not as good.
Jonas Valanciunas. Ah, if only things had been different on draft night, 2011. Oh well. I'm really looking forward to his development in the NBA; I was stunned when I first say him for Rytas as an 18 year old. Huge, agile, and aggressive. I always hope for new guys to add to my must watch list.
Are the Lakers really that good? Another aging team with some history of injury and no depth. Obviously, if everything goes right, the Lakers are a juggernaut. But the chances of things going wrong are pretty high. Howard's health, the aging of their other 3 stars, their appalling bench. I think it will be more of a struggle then they are expecting this year. Still, it will be fascinating.
Will Cuban and the Mavs do something big? Having planned to make a big splash this summer, the Mavs were reduced to acquiring second tier talent when they failed in their pursuit of Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Will the ever restless Cuban find a way to make a splash? And Jae Crowder.
What will the Knicks be? I can imagine a bunch of different outcomes for this team, but I actually expect them to be pretty good. It's easy to make fun of them, and they aren't winning a title, but Mike Woodson is a good coach. His teams always seem to improve. In some ways, they might be better served if Stoudemire's injury keeps him out a while; they looked a better team without him last season.
What catches your eye as we head into the season? (I might do a weeklyish ATL roundup if there is any interest).