There was nothing LeBron James failed to accomplish during his second season in Miami.
The most complete player in the league, and perhaps, ever, was named the Most Valuable Player for the third time, led all players in points, offensive rebounds, total rebounds and minutes played and found a way to elevate his game in the championship series.
In five contests against the Thunder, James averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game as he was named the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP.
Once the season was over, James was the catalyst for Team USA during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
During his third stint representing the United States, James averaged 13.3 points and dished out a team-high 45 assists during the eight game tournament.
James joined Michael Jordan as the only player to be named regular season MVP, lead his team to a title, be named Finals MVP and claim a gold medal all in a span of just five months.
The only challenge in front of James is where he can place himself historically and if he can once again carry the Heat to a championship, Barkley’s assessment could soon become a reality.
Chris Bosh may be the embodiment of what Miami is all about.
A seven-time All-Star at power forward, Bosh is shifting to center, but the change is meaningless, as Miami anticipates playing the entire 2012-13 season position-less. The tactic led to 11 wins in 14 games when bosh was in the lineup.
No team was able to run with the Heat last season and by continuing to exploit mismatches, the team is ready to begin the transformation from a championship season into a potential dynasty.
Smart Move: Only one player connected on more than 100 attempts from 3-point range last season and as a team, Miami shot 35.9 percent from long range. By adding Ray Allen, the all-time leader in 3-point field goals made. In 16 years, Allen has made less than 100 3-point field goals just once in his career, during the lockout shortened season in 1998-99.
Questionable Move: The Heat may not value interior size with its tremendous athleticism, but there were plenty of capable centers available in free agency, at a low cost. Miami could have pursued Greg Stiemsma, Jordan Hill and Louis Amundson all signed reasonable free agent deals elsewhere.
Watch Out For: A dynasty. Hours after signing a contract with the Heat, James famously declared his team was going to win multiple championships. To elevate his status, especially to supplant Jordan as the greatest ever, consecutive titles is a necessary first step.
A dramatic move was necessary for the Hawks.
Equipped with a trio of stars, but no superstars, Atlanta found a taker for Joe Johnson and $89 million he is due over the next four seasons.
Atlanta is looking to qualify for post season play for the sixth-straight year, but remains in position to completely rebuild its team if the season is a struggle, with just $13.2 million committed in salary for 2013-14.
Smart Move: The Hawks are expecting point guard Jeff Teague to develop into a star, but if he struggles, Devin Harris was brought in to provide a solid option off the bench. Harris may not be same player that averaged 21.3 points and 6.9 assists during his All-Star campaign in 2008-09, but he is a capable play maker, dishing out over five assists on 25 occasions last year.
Questionable Move: While moving Johnson was a necessity, the return package included few players capable of making an impact. Anthony Morrow shot a career-low 37.1 percent from 3-point range last year and was the best player Atlanta received in the deal that included DeShawn Stevenson, Damion James, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro and Jordan Williams. If the team received MarShon Brooks, then it would have a promising shooting guard to help reconstruct the roster.
Watch Out For: Consistency. The Hawks were never serious contenders last season, as it would dominate on some nights, but then lose at home to Miami, playing without any member of its Big 3. Atlanta needs play at a high level each night to become the elite team it always envisioned itself.
The breakout season for John Wall is going to have to wait at least a month into the regular season to start.
Wall has some major holes to improve, such as being the worst 3-point shooter in the league, as he made just 3-of-42 attempts from beyond the arc, and he finished second in turnovers per game.
For Washington to snap a five-year playoff drought, Wall will have to play like the superstar he was expected to be coming out of Kentucky.
Smart Move: The roster overhaul was necessary for the team to become a legitimate playoff contender. Nick Young and JaVale McGee were dealt at the trade deadline, Rashard Lewis was traded in the off-season and the team used its amnesty clause on Andray Blatche. By bringing in a veteran group of players, such as Nene and Emeka Okafor, Washington is in a much better position to win games.
Questionable Move: The Wizards averaged just 93.6 points per game, the seventh fewest in the NBA last season. Washington acquired Trevor Ariza in the deal with New Orleans for Lewis, but the 27-year-old has averaged more than 11 points per game just once during his career.
Watch Out For: Potential Rookie of the Year. Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard have emerged as the favorites to win the award, but Bradley Beal has a legitimate chance. The former Florida shooting guard was named to the All-Summer League Team, averaging 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Beal may even be forced into a starting role at point guard, as the only backups to Wall are the inexperienced combination of Shelvin Mack and A.J. Price.
As soon as the finishing touches were placed on Amway Arena, the destruction of the Magic franchise began.
Coach Stan Van Gundy was fired, Dwight Howard was finally granted his trade request Orlando is once again forced to rebuild after a superstar center bolted after failing to lead the team to its first championship.
The Magic lost three starters, failed to move the most bloated contract on its roster and in a four-team trade for Howard, was the only team not to receive an All-Star from last season in the deal.
Smart Move: Once Howard went out with a back injury, Glen Davis elevated his game, posting nine double-doubles over his final 16 games. Davis was rumored to be involved in many of the deals involving Howard, but retaining him at least gives Orlando an offensive presence next season.
Questionable Move: Less than a month after signing point guard Jameer Nelson to a three-year extension, Orlando announced it is open to trading every player on its roster. Even with Howard’s contract off its salary cap, their payroll is the fifth highest in the league and the team is over the luxury tax line. Instead, the team could have made a play for point guards such as Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic or Jeremy Lin, younger players with more upside.
Watch Out For: A lack of an identity. Orlando spent its last eight seasons trying to surround Howard with 3-point shooters and most weren’t even effective with him on the floor. Many of its defensive inefficiencies were covered up by Howard, a recipient of the Defensive Player of the year award in three consecutive seasons. No player can equal the production Howard provided in Orlando, especially not Gustavo Ayon.
Nothing went right in Charlotte last season.
The Bobcats had the league’s worst ratings on both offense and defense, scored over 100 points on just six occasions and won just seven games, posting the lowest winning percentage in league history in the process.
Charlotte lost its final 23 games of the season, 22 games by at least 20 points and failed to score at least 70 points on four occasions.
The Bobcats have posted just one winning season during their eight-year existence and there is little hope for a quick turnaround.
Smart Move: Aside from their historically bad season, the Bobcats couldn’t even win the draft lottery. Even with the best odds of landing the top pick, Charlotte lost out to the Hornets, but selecting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a great consolation prize. Even though he was the youngest player in his draft class there is little question about his maturity and Kidd-Gilchrist brings a much needed defensive tenacity to the organization.
Questionable Move: Moving Corey Maggette wasn’t a bad move but picking up Ben Gordon and the $25.6 million he is due over the next two years makes little sense. The Bobcats just drafted a player with a similar skill set to Gordon with the seventh overall pick a year ago and the Bobcats needs as much financial help as possible to become a factor in free agency.
Watch Out For: The development of Kemba Walker. Charlotte has made eight lottery selections since its inception in 2004, none of which turned out to become an All-Star and only three still remain with the team. Walker is the only player selected by the team with star potential and the Bobcats are desperate for any type of success and a breakout season from him is their best hope.