Most of the obvious moving and shaking in the NBA’s off season and free agency period is done, and teams are preparing for the start of training camps in the beginning of October. Obviously, the Miami Heat are defending champions, and they managed to improve their squad in the offseason, and the big news in the NBA summer has been the revamping of the Los Angeles Lakers. But is a finals showdown between the two a lock?
Most books are favoring the Heat to repeat as NBA champions, and that is likely the safe bet. Despite the burden of anti-Heat and anti-Lebron sentiment they faced since putting together their big three two years ago, James stepped up and took home his first ring. Adding Ray Allen and a few other token pieces likely makes them better.
The books see either the Lakers or OKC Thunder coming out of the West, with some sentiment including the Spurs in the bunch.
The Lakers are the big story, having added future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash, and the best center in the game in Dwight Howard. Though the discussion of the games best player really no longer includes Kobe Bryant, Bryant is still in the top 5 or 6 players, and unlike James provides a coach type influence when he plays. People are not sold on coach Mike Brown’s ability to make the team gel right away, but as mentioned Kobe will help with that. Howard may be out for some time rehabbing from back surgery, but they havent really gotten a full season out of Bynum in the past years either.. This is a far better Laker team than last year.
While OKC looked solid in the playoffs last year until they ran into the Heat buzzsaw, they are counting on internal improvement as opposed to bringing in talent like the Lakers did. Though they have talented, young players, this is harder to do and they likely have slipped behind the Lakers to third.
A Laker-Heat final seems inevitable. Some people give the Spurs a chance, and Rajon Rondo and Jason Terry were talking smack in public about the Celtics coming out of the East, but I dont give either much chance. The only team that can crash the party realistically is OKC< and they are probably going to have to wait until the following season to do it.