Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jared Howard - Around the NBA

As the 2008-2009 NBA season gets under way, the road to claim domination in a league of freakish athletes relishes past story lines, but adds a few twists in as well. The Lakers and the Hornets still sit amongst the storied franchises among the West, while the Celtics and the Pistons are the beasts of the East.

East: The defending champs, the Boston Celtics, have retained their core in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, and with the rising buzz about Rajon Rondo, many expect to see the Celtics back for another trip to the NBA Finals.

The Detroit Pistons, who have become accustomed to conference finals appearances, don’t look as though they are willing to settle in for another conference finals loss. Earlier this week, the acquisition of perennial all star Allen Iverson, in exchange for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess, has made for interesting talk on how far the Pistons can actually go. Some believe this to be a move that gives the Pistons the prime time scorer that they have lacked which will put them over the top come playoff time. Others feel that this could be a sign that Detroit has shifted its philosophy and is now looking to clear their financial books come next season with the hopes of landing a superstar come 2010.

While these two teams look like the favorites, don’t be surprised to see Lebron James and the Cavaliers, Philadelphia’s new lineup anchored by Elton Brand, or Chris Bosh’s Toronto Raptors as possible candidates to come out of the East.

West: Nobody will deny the Lakers talent. Headed by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the defending Western Conference finalists look poised to make another run at the finals. Especially with their young seven-footer, Andrew Bynum, back into the lineup after his season ending injury toward the end of last season, the Lakers have the best lineup on paper.

The New Orleans Hornets will continue to stay competitive as long as they have their six-foot stud point guard, Chris Paul, laced up and ready to go. As the runner up in the MVP voting last year behind Bryant, Paul looks even more determined at the start of this season averaging 21 points, 12 assists, and three steals per contest. With the addition of James Posey, a veteran who has tasted victory in multiple cities –including Boston last year–look out for the young run and gun team to storm their way to the top.

Some clubs that might give these teams a run for their money are the Houston Rockets–with the addition of Ron Artest, the Utah Jazz, and the Phoenix Suns.

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