By Joseph Gaxiola
Anything short of a third straight NBA Championship will not cut it for the Miami Heat. Shane Battier stated that complacency is going to be the Heat’s issue this season. But the wear and tear of three straight years that ended in the finals can take a toll on their stars; LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. As long as their health stays good, the Miami Heat is assured to be in the playoffs again.
Kevin Durant will have to carry the early season load for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even with the remarkable building up of the franchise, the Thunder still feels like it’s at a crossroads. With Durant and a healthy Russell Westbrook, the Thunder is still a good team but without that established third star, the franchise is no longer a big power house. The Memphis Grizzlies have a new coach but defense remains the focus. Dave Joerger has won wherever he coached in the minor leagues but you can’t know how a coach will do in the NBA with the pressure of a professional league. At least Joerger should get more offense from Ed Davis.
Can a pair of ex-Boston Celtics superstars lift the Brooklyn Nets to playoff glory? With Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez, the Nets should make it to the playoffs this season but that also depends on the health of their stars. Jason Kidd will need to make sure that he can coach and lead this team of superstars.
The Sacramento Kings had a very busy off-season starting off with the non-move to Seattle, thanks to the league’s help, which led to the team being sold to Vivek Ranadive, a billionaire who wants to make the Sacramento Kings into a worldwide brand.
The Kings should be taken very seri- ously when it comes to their play- ers, Ben McLemore and Greivis Vasquez. But is the era of the good feelings coming to an end?
Ricky Rubio is quite talented. But can he become a superstar who’s good enough to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves toward the playoffs this season? Rubio’s health shouldn’t an issue and he will be playing with Kevin Martin. The biggest issue with Rubio is his “Player Efficiency Rat- ing” which was 28th last season and a horrible “True Shooting Percent- age” of .482.
Adam Silver looks to become the next NBA Commissioner on Feb- ruary 1, 2014. The question is who will replace him as deputy commis- sioner. Two names that have been brought up are Heidi Ueberroth and Rod Thorn. Silver has made it clear he would like people he likes and who work well with him. So would Silver go outside of the league and possibly tap a person from the private sector to fill the position?
By the Numbers
25 – Years that the Orlando Magic has been in the NBA. The team has won 979 regular season and 57 playoff games in that quarter century, making two (1995, 2009) NBA Finals.
116,341 – Per the NBA, combined miles that the 12 teams that are playing preseason and regular season games abroad will travel. Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Houston, Indiana, Chicago, Washington, Golden State and the Lakers will play exhibitions in Istan- bul, Turkey; Bilbao, Spain; Manchester, England; Manila, Philippines; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Taipei, Taiwan; and Beijing and Shanghai, China in October, with Minnesota and San Antonio playing a regular season game December 4 in Mexico City, and Atlanta and Brooklyn playing in London on January 16.
2 – Games the league suspended Nets coach Jason Kidd after he pled guilty to a DUI charge. Kidd will miss Brooklyn’s season opener against Cleveland and the Nets’ game against the Heat.