NGSC Sports

NBA: Opinion of One

The NBA enters the 2014-15 season with a change in the balance of power. It has been many years since we’ve had the Lakers and the Celtics battling for league supremacy. They are now fighting to be relevant in the upcoming year, but the shift of power has just begun. Let’s take a look at some of the teams that should find themselves in the hunt and beyond.


Kyrie Irving Jeff Teague #0 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers at Philips Arena on April 4, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.


In Cleveland, the lottery God’s have been at work for a long losing franchise. LeBron James is back home and he has brought a cast of characters with him to chase a title. James Jones, Mike Miller and Shawn Marion have come along for the ride with James and each brings a certain dynamic to the team. Miller will be the three point specialist that James knows very well. Jones will help spell the first team and be effective in the minutes he will get. He is another player James has played with and that will help with chemistry. Marion just joined the Cavs from Dallas and will bring much needed experience and depth. Starters Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are about to learn what its like to take your game to the next level . James has said he believes that he can help Irving and it is probably a good bet that will happen. James will allow Irving to concentrate on being a point guard that does not have to be the first option anymore. Waiters has shown promise and flashes and now will find out if he has what takes to be a champion. The completion of the trade for Kevin Love is the final piece in what James hopes will end up with a long awaited Cavs NBA title.  Love can play inside and out. He can knock down the three and post you up. On top of that, he is one of the best rebounders in the game today. The key to a title will be that this team stay healthy and build chemistry. They have the talent to win now, but too many times we have seen a team that looks ready on paper, only to falter in the end. At this point, this team is now the clear favorite in the East to get to the Finals.


Derrick Rose - Puerto Rico v United States

In Chicago, its the return of Derrick Rose Part Two and this time it needs to stick. In Rose, the Bulls have one of the best all around players in the league. He has played very well for USA Basketball and appears to be set for a big year. Three years ago the Bulls looked to be on a path to a title themselves, but Rose got injured, returned and got hurt again. A healthy Rose is going to play alongside a much better Joakim Noah. Noah has really improved his game each year and now has to be considered one of the better big men in the league. Pau Gasol comes over from the Lakers and the question is, does he have any championship moxie left in him. Can he rejuvenate himself  and be a factor for this team? If he can find some past magic and gel with Noah, the Bulls will be in good shape. The two other starters, Mike Dunleavy and Jimmy Butler are the wild cards. Dunleavy has been doing this for some time and he will be counted on to produce and supply experience and leadership. Butler needs to come into his own at the two guard and be able to knock down the big shot from an assisting Rose. Doug McDermott was a scoring machine in college and showed some of that in Summer League play. Now we will have to wait and see if his college game can translate to the NBA. If he can give this team some scoring and productive minutes, Rose stays healthy and Gasol gets his old game back, this team will give the Cavs a fight for the Central.


Carmelo AnthonyPaul George - Team USA Showcase

As far as the rest of the East, well the Knicks are their own worst enemy. Phil Jackson was brought in to clean up a mess that is over 30 years old. Carmelo Anthony stayed and got paid and that is all the riches he will see. Indiana lost Paul George to a horrific injury that shattered his leg and ended his season before it started. The Heat kept Bosh and Wade, but will struggle to keep pace with the Cavs and Bulls.


Greg Popovich - San Antonio Spurs v New Orleans Hornets


In San Antonio, the beat just keeps on producing titles. The Spurs just won their fifth title in the Greg Popovich era and do not count them out yet. We have been shown by this team that no matter how long they play together, no matter how old they get. they WILL contend for a title. Tim Duncan is on his last legs as is Manu Ginobli, but they still know how to win. Tony Parker is still one of the most effective point guards in the league that can penetrate with the best. He will continue to steer this team, but he must stay healthy for the Spurs to have a chance. Another guy that will pay a key role is Kawhi Leonard. He keeps getting better and capped off a great year by winning Finals MVP. If he can take his game to yet another level, the Spurs will once again contend and make a deep run in the playoffs. Danny Green has become a deadly shooter and his confidence is at an all-time high.  If this team can avoid the injury bug, Pops will use them right and the Spurs may find themselves playing for another title.


Kevin Durant - Team USA Showcase


In Oklahoma, time is running out for Kevin Durant, in NBA terms. He is the one of the best on the planet, but has yet to win his first NBA ring. He has won scoring titles and given us highlight reels, but he must win now. The loss of James Harden appears to have hurt this team more than we all thought. Durant and Russell Westbrook will have to find a better plan of attack to get over the hump. Westbrook has been accused of being a ball hog, of taking too many shots. It may have come to a point where he may have to evaluate his style of play. He does not distribute as much as some feel he should. He gets very erratic at times, taking himself out of the game. Somehow, he has to find a blend of what he wants to do and what he needs to do. Kendrick Perkins just isn’t effective enough in the post to play with his counterparts. He does not have enough moves and offensive skills to make a difference. Serge Ibaka rebounds, but is no offensive threat either. A young Reggie Jackson had a good playoffs last year and the Thunder are counting on him to improve his game. In the end, Oklahoma must find a way to get past the Spurs. Then, they have to find a way to close the deal come playoff time. If they cannot get it done this year, the speculation of Durant staying or going will be underway.


Chris Paul


The Clippers are going to find out if new ownership and atmosphere will help them achieve their goal. Doc Rivers is a good coach, but he has to find a way to help Chris Paul and Blake Griffin make a playoff run first. Paul has proven that he may be the best point guard in the league when he is on. He can score, assist and knows how to keep his team in a game. Griffin has gotten better, but he still needs more work on his outside shot. He needs to be able to penetrate better to take advantage of his size and explosiveness. Starters DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Reddick and Matt Barnes do not scream security to you. They will not worry many defenses after they have to key on Paul and Griffin. One of them will have step up his game and give the Clippers a third option they sorely need.


James Harden - Brazil v United States


The Rockets find themselves believing they are close to a title, even though that is far from the truth. Harden went to Houston to have a team of his own. He was joined by Dwight “Superman” Howard last year but a fourth place West finish was the best they could do. Tevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones won’t make much noise for other teams to sweat too much. The bench is not the deepest in the league and without another key player to compliment Howard and Harden, the Rockets will be hard pressed to hold off Golden State.


It is going to be an interesting year after a busy, news filled off season. We will see if the Spurs can overcome age with experience and championship will. If the Thunder and Durant can finally play like we have been expecting for years. Can the Clips ride the wave of change and make a deep run in the playoffs? Who will challenge the Cavs in the East? Will it in fact be the Bulls and a healthy Rose that make it to the Eastern Conference Finals?


All these questions and more should be answered by that team from Cleveland as they hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy next June. With the weapons they possess, it is hard to imagine anyone else winning it all. If this season turns out just like this, the legend of King James can be questioned no more.


So let’s grab a chair and take a front seat to what appears to be one heck of a ride for 2014-15 in the NBA. No matter what  happens this year, it is now the Adam Silver show. Let’s see where the new commish takes the league during his tenure.

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Ralph Garcia


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