Now, after the smoke has finally cleared, i'm sure hoop fans have now marked their calendars for the 25th of December, not for Christmas day, but because it's the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season.
Although, it is a short season, it still is a must see year for the league. I have listed my top 10 teams to see this season:
10. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
Definitely the mood in The Big Easy will change a bit after losing their franchise player Chris Paul and with D-West going to Indiana. With the ownership and financial issue still looming over the team, don't worry NO fans, you still have something to look forward to this season and this one may be a sleeper for most of us. Please New Orleans, no need to follow the hate they once got going in Cleveland.
Chris Paul was traded over to the Clippers and in exchange got Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu. Now, if you're going to ask me, not a bad trade at all (well, okay, i get the point if you'll raise the ticket sales issue) and i'm sure that the loyal Hornets fans won't give up on their team (just yet, i hope). This trade actually solidifies their line up right away. Now you got a more potent Shooting Guard in Eric Gordon both on the defensive and offensive end. This will now be Eric Gordon's coming out party as he now is the expected leader for this team. When you go down to the low block, you now bring down Emeka Okafor in the 4-spot (which i feel is the best position for him) being able to concentrate more on the defensive end and helping out in the offense and bringing a more legit Center in Chris Kaman. You also got Jack, Aminu, Ariza, and Landry in their respective positions and can hold their ground against the rest of the league (well, let's hope Trevor raises his shooting percentage).
Now, Monty Williams may have his hands full but he has proven that he is definitely ready for the coaching spot and for me, he is the one that will determine how his Hornets thread the waters. If you're going to ask me, in terms of individual talents, the Hornets actually have improved this season compared to last season. I'm sure Williams is up to the task and will quietly make his opponents see that going to New Orleans won't mean an easy win.
09. INDIANA PACERS
Beefing up their line up by adding All-Star power forward David West, the future for Larry Bird's team is off to a nice start. David West expressed his intent to be traded during off-season and landing in Indiana was a good move for the 17-foot assassin.
They also got George Hill from a trade with the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for rookie Kawhi Leonard. I actually don't get the logic of this trade coming from both teams' side. It's not a trivia that Pop really liked Hill's playing style foe his system while he was in Texas so it was a surprise to see him traded off. In Indiana, they already got a solid starting Point Guard in Darren Collison, who proved his worth in his stint in The Big Easy when CP3 was down. So you have 2 good starting Point Guards in your list. It's really a double edged sword as it may make wonders for them in terms of solidifying the position regardless of who of the 2 comes off the bench or starts (Coach Frank Vogel may even play them both), or it may create a little crack in the rotation. I'm sure coach Vogel will make the most out of them though as he proved his wit last playoffs as they battled against the Bulls.
The team also got hard-nose Power Forward in Lou Amundson which adds hustle and energy coming off the bench.
And of course you have your All-Star 3-man in Danny Granger, that I hope stays healthy for his team as he will still lead this team no matter what. They also got solid players in Paul George, Dahntay Jones, A.J. Price, and Tyler Hansbrough. The real barometer for this team though would have to be Roy Hibbert. Last season's stats for the big man wasn't bad but I feel his team needs him more on the defensive end, grabbing more boards, defending the low block and bringing that toughness.
08. DALLAS MAVERICKS
Okay, now that Dirk, Kidd, Terry, team owner Mark Cuban, Coach Carlisle and the rest of the Mavericks organization already got their first ring, you'ld be thinking that they are itching to get another crack at the title, right? Well... The latest move of the franchise of letting go Tyson Chandler wasn't a popular move, maybe, for most fans of the Mavs and got them scratching their heads.
The reason why I actually placed them on my 8th spot is to see how they'll cope with the drastic change and if their resiliency is still flaming red-hot. No doubt that most of the guys in the roster already proved their worth and resolve as winners with each one stepping up during last year's championship run. However, I feel that they actually removed 2 of their key guys in the defensive end. Chandler undeniably changed the identity of the team from an offensive machine to one hell of a defensive wall to mess with in the Western Conference. Not only can he block shots and cover the paint well, he also boosts their energy and is their vocal leader on the defensive end. We may not have seen Caron's worth since he got injured, but seeing him from the past years he played in the league, he is one tough guy in the 3 spot.
I hope that some of the guys push their effort and level a notch higher this season 'cause they'll badly need it, considering that you have young guns in OKC trying to slowly climb the top of the mountain. I'm sure Mark Cuban won't hang his cowboy hat yet. After all, no one expected them to reach and win the championship. Honestly though, they'll have a tough time.
07. CHICAGO BULLS
In all, I don't expect the Warriors to be a 5th or 6th seeder but seeing them in the playoffs will be a great start
I wish to see the Wolves get back in playoff contention and prove naysayers wrong. I think the only thing that this team needs is their identity and that "one" leader.