So much attention has been focused on the Heat, the teams inaugural pre-season game drew as much chatter online and around the water cooler as a no-hitter thrown in the post season for the first time since 1956.
Since transforming its franchise into the top villain in all of sports, Miami will be the catalyst for NBA ratings this season.
Since today is 10-10-10, let’s look at 10 other story lines for the upcoming season.
1. Phil Jackson chasing his fourth career three-peat.
No coach, in any sport, has been as successful as Phil Jackson. Dominating a sport since entering the free agency era, something no one else has done, Jackson has the opportunity to win three titles in a row for the fourth time in his career. If Los Angeles wins this season, Jackson’s three-peat record will be as untouchable as Cy Young’s 511 career wins.
2. Looming lockout may generate more trade activity.
Richard Jefferson may have started a trend this summer, opting out of a one-year deal worth $15 million to resign with San Antonio with a four-year $38.8 million. The uncertainty next summer caused Jefferson to get his money now instead of waiting. Players entering the final years of their contract may force a trade and sign extensions this year instead of risking no contract offers next summer.
3. Cleveland’s recovery from the departure of LeBron James.
Without the leagues winner of the last two MVP awards, the Cavaliers must find a way to become a successful team without LeBron James. The Quicken Loans Arena became a difficult place to play during James’ tenure and if the Cavaliers are going to win any games, home court must still be an advantage.
4. The much anticipated debut of Blake Griffin.
It’s been two years since basketball fans have seen Blake Griffin play. Dominating the competition as a freshman at Oklahoma, Griffin has the potential to become the top power forward in the NBA. Last season was derailed by a knee injury, but back healthy, the rookie is hoping to lead the Clippers to the playoffs.
5. The battle for the NBA’s top point guard
Deron Williams played outstanding basketball last season, causing Shatter the Glass to select him as the top point guard heading into the season. With Chris Paul fully recovered from a knee injury, he is looking to reclaim the spot from Williams.
6. New Jersey’s first season with a new owner
During the most active summer in NBA history, the Nets remained eerily silent. Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the team vowing to bring a championship within five seasons. Equipped with cap space and a desire to become relevant, New Jersey’s roster will likely be very different in February.
7. The Carmelo Anthony trade situation
For months rumors have been flying around the league about potential landing destinations for Carmelo Anthony, one of the NBA’s premier scorers. Denver is in complete upheaval since a changing ownership and Anthony could be the first casualty if the team decides to rebuild.
8. Oklahoma City’s first tough decision
Since emerging as everyone’s favorite young team, the Thunder finally have a tough decision to make, whether or not to offer Jeff Green a contract extension. Since the 2007 NBA Draft, every move the team has made benefited the team. The X-Factor for Oklahoma City if they want to truly take the next step, Green must increase his rebounding productivity to secure a spot with the team next season as the starting power forward.
9. Finally new ownership for Golden State
Blessed with a talented but young roster, the Warriors never took the next step because their coach preferred playing veterans. A new coach and new ownership finally have Golden State, blessed with one of the most loyal fan bases in all of sports, look to finally become a relevant team again.
10.The battle of brothers
When casual fans hear about a dominating Spanish big man, they automatically think of Pau Gasol. Little brother, Marc, emerged last season, averaging 14 points and nine rebounds per game. Five years younger than his champion brother, Marc has become a leader for the Memphis Grizzlies. No question Brook Lopez has posted better numbers with the Nets than his twin, but Robin has emerged as a key piece for Phoenix as they seek yet another trip to the post season.