NBA season off to a fast start

Evan Edwards | Staff Writer


Now that we are a nearly a month into the NBA season, teams are beginning to develop their identities for the year. For some, that is a good thing (Miami, OKC). For others, well, there’s always next year (Washington).

The reigning champs are still hot (pun intended), but there has been a little changing of the guard this year in the league. Just in case you were watching football the entire month of November, or studying too hard (sike), here’s a look at what you missed.


MIAMI: With the off-season additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, Miami (10-3) looks even better this year than they did a year ago. LeBron James is the best player on the planet, and seems to be benefiting from his time spent in London this summer battling against the elite basketball talents of the world at the Olympics. Allen now gives them that consistent, clutch three pointer shooter that they previously lacked. With a healthy Dwayne Wade, this team is scary.

MEMPHIS: Yeah that’s right, I said Memphis! The Grizzlies (9-2) have taken the league by storm. Rudy Gay is arguably the most underrated player in the NBA. Zach Randolph is averaging 16.7 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, while Pau’s younger brother, Marc Gasol, is averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds to compliment him. When you have that kind of presence down low, Gay on the wing, and a crafty point guard like Mike Conley distributing the ball, good things are going to continue to happen in Memphis.

NEW YORK: The Knicks (9-3) have played extremely well thus far, and a large portion of that is due to the steady performances of superstar forward Carmelo Anthony. He’s been lights out, averaging 25.6 points per game. With the departure of last year’s hero Jeremy Lin, New York brought in guards Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd to run the show. Up to this point, it has worked great. Felton seems like a natural fit not only in Madison Square Garden but also in Coach Mike Woodson’s offense. I’m anxious to see how this team plays when Amare Stoudemire returns to the lineup.

SAN ANTONIO: Every year it seems like the Spurs (11-3) keep getting older and older. Instead of that making them worse, it somehow makes them better. The core nucleus of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli has been there for what seems like 20 years. If you watch San Antonio play, it appears like they’ve been playing together for 100 years. Coach Greg Poppavich continues to be a master of creating team chemistry. He brings in guys like Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and DeJuan Blair and makes them the perfect fit to his puzzle. He’s even able to keep Stephen Jackson happy and out of jail!

BROOKLYN: In the team’s debut season in a new location, the new-look Nets (8-4) have not disappointed. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are one of the best backcourt tandems in the league, if not the best. Williams is averaging 8.5 assists per game as his supporting cast has been very productive. People made it a big deal when Brooklyn didn’t land Dwight Howard this summer, but do not sleep on Brook Lopez. He’s averaging 19 points a game with nearly 7 rebounds to go with it. This team is still developing but has proven that they can be a legitimate contender, not a pretender.


WASHINGTON: The Wizards (0-11) have been anything but magical this season. With star point guard John Wall sidelined due to injury, Washington desperately needs somebody to step up. Last year’s lottery pick Bradley Beal hasn’t exactly been special, and is going to have to elevate his game if this team plans on winning any games.

NEW ORLEANS: When the Hornets (3-9) drafted Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers both in the top 10 of last year’s draft, they thought they had found the answer to all their problems. Well, they thought wrong. Anthony Davis has showed signs of greatness when he’s been able to play but has got to get healthy. Austin Rivers has struggled on the court; in fact he has lost the majority of his minutes to Greivis Vasquez.

L.A. LAKERS: Not even two weeks into the season, the Lakers (7-7) fired their head coach, Mike Brown. Now, they have Mike D’Antoni at the helm and are trying to get things turned around. As they have managed to win some games of late and are sitting on a .500 record, they still have a long ways to go. A team that has Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard on the roster should not have to make any excuses, ever.


After setting the record for worst winning percentage in a season (.106), the Bobcats (7-5) look like a new, hungrier team this year. They have a solid core of young players led by Kemba Walker and last year’s lottery pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. On the opposite site of the country, the Clippers (8-5) are also playing good basketball. Chris Paul is still Chris Paul, and Deandre Jordan has grown into a man child. There’s something about watching Paul throw the lob to Blake Griffin that never gets old, either.


James Harden – Houston Rockets

O.J. Mayo – Dallas Mavericks

Damian Lillard – Portland Trailblazers

Kenneth Faried – Denver Nuggets

PREDICTION: It’s still extremely early, but as of today, I’ll go ahead and give you my NBA Finals prediction. While many new teams are intriguing, and I’m anxious to see what the Lakers can do as they fine-tune their new system, I do not see a better overall team right now than Miami.  Maybe when the Knicks get Amare back it will excel their team to a whole new level, but I just do not see anybody in the east stopping the Heat on their road to the finals. As for their opponent when they get there, I’ll take the Thunder. Losing a player of James Harden’s caliber had to be tough on this team, especially on the defensive end. Lucky for OKC, they still have Kevin Durant. Oh yeah, they also still have Russell Westbrook running the show and added Kevin Martin to fill the instant offense void that Harden left. Add all that with an excellent defender like Serge Ibaka and a bully like Kedrick Perkins, and you’ve got yourself a championship caliber team. When it’s all said and done and Commissioner David Stern walks out with the trophy, I believe he will be handing it back to LeBron James and the Miami Heat.