I wasn't talking to anyone reading this. I was talking to the NBA. I missed you.
It seems like it's been an eternity since the NBA season ended in late June. Unbeknownst to us at the time, LeBron was just beginning a career turnaround as the final buzzer sounded at the end of Game 5. The legend of legends, Bill Russell, would hand him his newly minted Finals MVP trophy which James looked strangely comfortable cradling. A month later, LeBron would by far be the best player on Team USA, leading the men's senior basketball team to another gold medal and making it look easy in the process. Whilst a year ago there wasn't enough damning criticism we could heap upon "The Chosen One", today there isn't a true NBA fan out there that can deny his excellence on the basketball court. Quite simply, he's the greatest player alive. And he's only 27.
There's no shortage of storylines going into the 2012-2013 season. Even with the more restrictive rules on payroll, the league seems more top-heavy than ever before. The NBA has mimicked the very country it sprouted from; the riche are getting richer and the poor....well, they're getting high lottery picks. Off the top of my head, here are some of the most interesting plot threads running through this real-life soap opera:
- How high can LeBron ascend? Will he rise to heights we've never seen from a professional athlete before?
- Dwight Howard is in Los Angeles. Steve Nash is in Los Angeles. The Lakers, left for dead by some in May, are restocked, reloaded and ridiculously talented. Can they come together as a unit before this window slams shut?
- Can the Chicago Bulls survive til the end of the season without Derrick Rose, who tore his ACL in the first game of the 2012 playoffs? And will Rose ever be the same?
- How good are YOUR...New York Knicks?
- How good is YOUR...favorite Asian-American superstar Jeremy Lin, really?
- The Nets are relevant for the first time in nearly a decade. Will Deron Williams, with the most talent he's ever had in his lifetime, justify his contract?
- Do the San Antonio Spurs have another run in them? Will we ever stop asking this question?
- The Clippers finished their most successful season in franchise history, and yet, couldn't have been further back in the sporting minds of Los Angeles. Can the Clips continue to operate like a normal organization that doesn't disgrace the sport? Or will they just be the Clippers?
- What is to become of the Orlando Magic? That is all.
- John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Brandon Jennings, Steph Curry, Kyle Lowry. They've all emerged to some extent as young stars. But who will break through into that upper echelon of point Gods? Will any of them?
- Anthony Davis, Derrick Favors, Boogie Cousins, Greg Monroe. Who's going to be the next dominant big man?
- Can Andrew Bynum be "the man" in Philly? And how long until the city starts throwing batteries at him for his...peculiarities?
That's just what's been brewing in my gourd all summer. Every single team, whether you're a fan or not, has at least one interesting undercurrent going through their team...and we haven't even hit training camp.
To ramp up for the 2012-2013 season, MAMBINO has got you covered in it's entirety. Yesterday, we began our massive team-by-team preview series from our stable of uncomfortably hoop-hungry writers. Starting with the Southeast division and the NBA Champion Miami Heat, we'll move division to division every week, capping it off with a Knicks preview filled with blood, tears and other liquids from our own El Miz and BockerKnocker. In every post, we'll give you a knowledgeable, easy to read perspective on every team's upcoming campaign, with all the flair, humor and David Stern-tinged disdain that MAMBINO has become known for to our scant 80 Twitter followers (....seriously? @TheGreatMambino. Get educated).
We're fired up already. You should be to. Check back in to MAMBINO for your daily kick of NBA wisdom. You won't regret it. Here are our predicted Eastern and Western Conference standings:
- Miami Heat
- Boston Celtics
- Indiana Pacers
- New York Knicks
- Brooklyn Nets
- Chicago Bulls
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Atlanta Hawks
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Toronto Raptors
- Orlando Magic
- Washington Wizards
- Detroit Pistons
- Charlotte Bobcats
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- San Antonio Spurs
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Denver Nuggets
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Dallas Mavericks
- Portland Trailblazers
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Utah Jazz
- Golden State Warriors
- Houston Rockets
- Phoenix Suns
- New Orleans Hornets
- Sacramento Kings