It’s finally here. The start of the 2014-2015 NBA Season. There are plenty of new faces in new places like Lebron James and Kevin Love in Cleveland, players staying put like Carmelo Anthony in New York, and there is even a franchise that has come home to its roots, the Charlotte Hornets. All that being said, it was an eventful off-season and this upcoming regular season figures to be much better. Here’s your 2014-2015 guide courtesy of NBAOnlineBlog.com
For starters, Adam Silver is the NBA’s new commissioner. After 30 years as the head of the NBA, David Stern has relinquished his duties to Silver, who has been nothing short of impressive in his first year as the new commish. Getting rid of Donald Sterling was his first challenge and he succeeded. Now he is moving forward to improve the game and isn’t afraid to experiment with things such as 11 minute quarters. The 2014-15 NBA season will be remembered for being Silver’s first year if not for anything else.
The coaching carousel in the NBA never stops. This year we have Jason Kidd going from the Nets to the Bucks, Lionel Hollins taking over the Nets, Byron Scott is now the head of the Lake show replacing Mike D’antoni, Derek Fisher will be implementing the triangle for the Knicks and David Blatt will be coaching the Cavs in Cleveland. Stan Van Gundy received a great deal of power in Detroit, becoming both the head coach and gm, and on the left coast in probably the most controversial hire/fire, Steve Kerr gets his first head coaching gig with the Warriors ousting Mark Jackson this offseason. And we can’t forget Flip Saunders returning to the sidelines with his old squad, the Timberwolves, and Coach K disciple Quinn Snyder getting his first NBA coaching job with the Utah Jazz. That’s more than one-fourth of the league making a coaching change. The days of continuity are gone. Everyone wants to win now. The way the NBA goes, it may be safe to say that not all of these nine coaches make it safely through the season.
Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins. As exciting as it sounds for those two get their Melo vs Lebron rivalry going, this isn’t a two-man race. Julius Randle will have plenty of opportunity to shine in LA, both bigs in Philly should be solid contributors, and while Doug Mcdermott, P.J. Hairston may start the season coming off the bench, don’t think that they will all season. These players are all young and exciting and should make for a fun race for rookie of the year.
Player movement is the most exciting part of the off-season. Headlined with Lebron, Carmelo, and Bosh, the free agency period kept everyone on their toes. In the end Lebron left, while Melo and Bosh stayed put. On the second tier of free agents, there were some solid moves made by some teams. The best move was Lance Stephenson going to the Hornets. This gives Lance a chance to be a star and at the same time he provided the Hornets with a cap friendly contract. Talk about win-wins. The next best move was Parson to Dallas. This move along with them grabbing Felton and Chandler from New York makes them instant contenders. Leaving Dallas was Vince Carter who goes to Memphis to be a sixth man. This move gives them the perimeter scorer they have lacked since Rudy Gay left town. Speaking of places that Rudy Gay left, the Toronto Raptors re-signed Kyle Lowry to keep another great backcourt of himself and Demar Derozan together, barring injury the Raptors should be a top 5 team in the East. Down in Washington the addition of Paul Pierce should help the Wizards in more ways than one. He won’t be asked to do too much and proved last year he was still capable of knocking down big shots.One other team that made some additions is the LA Lakers. They add Boozer and Ed Davis to a frontcourt that needs bodies. Nash is done now so new addition Jeremy Lin will step in at the point.
If this were boxing, the number one contender would be the Cleveland Cavaliers. Everyone expects them to be the team to beat in the East and some even pick them to win it all. Lebron coming home and bringing K-Love with him The Chicago Bulls, as long as D-Rose stays healthy, might have an issue with that. The additions of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott are the added scoring the Bulls needed so badly in the past. As long as they buy into coach Thibs defensive principles, the Bulls will be a tough out.
On the other hand, the West is loaded, but it remains to be seen what team is a legit contender for the title. Talking playoffs, there are about 12 teams in the West that have a shot to get in, but contender-wise there is Dallas, OKC, the Clippers, Warriors, and of course the Spurs. The Warriors are still young and there will be some growing pains with a new head coach. They lack toughness inside and are injury prone. That being said, they have the best backcourt in the NBA, they can rebound and they recently learned how to play defense. They will be the most fun in the league to watch by far and if Curry brings it every night the sky is the limit. The Clippers have the second best coach in the league and arguably the best point guard in the league, a nice combination to have. They lack a true closer and clutch shooter (Crawford is past his prime) and Griffin can’t get you a basket down the stretch in an isolation situation at the end of a game. Consistent scoring from the wing is also an issue. OKC will be with Durant for an extended period of time which could drop them in the standings and set them up with bad playoff matches. We also don’t know if KD’s injury will linger. That leaves the Mavericks who were the only team to give the Spurs a run last year and they have gotten a lot better. Adding Felton, Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons were all solid moves and Rick Carlisle is no slouch, he will have this bunch finishing top 3 in the West.
The Spurs are still the Spurs. The big 4 of Duncan, Parker, Ginobli, and Popvich know how to get it done, throughout the course of the season and the playoffs. The question that has to be asked is “How long can the Spurs win against Father Time?” These guys are getting older but this organization is doing an excellent job of incorporating in young talent. Look for Kawai Leonard to have a bigger role on the team this year and look for the Spurs to be back in the Western Conference Finals at minimum.
Kobe is back. For how long? Well we will see if his body can hold up. He’s logged about a trillion minutes since coming into the league in 1996. He’s taken a lot of heat this year because of his hefty contract and the rumor that no other superstar wants to play alongside of him. I’m sure it doesn’t bother him at all and he plans to do whatever it takes to win regardless. Jeanie Buss has already stated publicly she wants Kobe to sign another contract in 2016, citing that she watched Kareem play until he was 42. Only Kobe knows what he has left, but will his pride get in the way of him admitting whatever it is if it’s not much. Despite all of the other storylines and action that will take place in the league this year, this may be the most intriguing to keep an eye on. Watching one of the greatest players to step on a court to see if he can prove all of his doubters wrong. Hate him or love him we all will watch him and pay closer attention to him than ever before.
It’s a long season. Definitely a marathon and not a sprint. Normally the way we predict it in the beginning isn’t the way that everything plays out so sit back and enjoy 82 games of the best basketball on the planet.
P.S. We will miss you Paul George