Five Things You Should Know for the Start of the NBA Season

In case you haven’t been paying attention in the offseason or you just want to be in the know come the next jump ball, here are five key storylines to pay attention to as the NBA kicks off its season this week.

The Comeback
Derrick Rose hasn’t played in a regular season NBA game in a year and a half. But before he went down with a torn ACL he managed to take league MVP honours away from one LeBron James. He was, and still may be, one of the most explosive and exciting players in the league, and his teammates on the Chicago Bulls, including All-Stars Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, could well pose the greatest threat to the guys below… 

The Champs
LeBron Raymone James is currently the best basketball player in the world playing on the best basketball team in the world – the Miami Heat. James has been the league MVP three out of the last four years, won the NBA championship and Finals MVP the past two years, and is basically a basketball machine capable of putting up mind-boggling stat lines on a nightly basis. James and the Heat are as good as it gets right now as they try to become only the fourth team in NBA history to ‘three-peat’, a term actually trademarked years ago by the Heat’s current GM Pat Riley. Everyone in the league will try to take down the champs, which means any game they’re involved in should be worth watching.

The Other MVPs
Kevin Durant and Chris Paul might be the only other guys in the league right now who have a legitimate shot at taking best player honours away from James and/or Rose. Durant lost his partner in crime last post-season when Russell Westbrook went down with a meniscus tear in his right knee. Durant will have to shoulder the team until Westbrook’s back in December. At 25, he’s already possibly one of the greatest natural scorers the game’s ever seen – look for him to step it up big time. Chris Paul, meanwhile, chose to stay in L.A. (for the Clippers not the Lakers) and help continue to turn the historically awful franchise around. He is considered by most of his peers to be the best point guard in the league (again, Rose hasn’t played since Spring 2012) and he’s now bolstered by the addition of a championship-winning coach in Doc Rivers. 

The Other Comeback? 
Kobe Bean Bryant will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest players to ever pick up the roundball when all is said and done. And that time may have well arrived. In last year’s playoffs, Bryant went down with torn Achilles tendon, a very serious injury that usually requires 6-9 months of rehab before coming back. It’s an injury that also had a history of ending the careers of veteran players, and at 35, Bryant’s no longer immune to Father Time and all his demands. This season could mark the beginning of the end of Bryant’s career… or the start of one last championship push. Either way, we’re excited to see the Black Mamba back in action.

The Wild West
Dwight Howard spurned the Lakers over the summer (and in the process left a cool $30 million on the table) to head over to Houston where he’ll pair up with another All-Star in James Harden. The San Antonio Spurs were one Tim Duncan tip-in away from an NBA Championship just four months ago and, despite their aging roster, are still one of the most solid teams in the league. Stephen Curry leads perhaps the most exciting team to watch in the NBA in the Golden State Warriors, who picked up one of the league’s most versatile players in Andre Iguodala and re-signed former #1 draft pick and Aussie big man Andrew Bogut. The Clippers will be taken much more seriously with Chris Paul back at the helm and Doc Rivers behind him on the bench. Oklahoma was in the finals two years ago and may well have been again last year if not for Westbrook going down with his injury. The Grizzles, Mavericks, and Nuggets should never be overlooked for a deep playoff run. And we did mention Kobe was coming back, right? All in all, the western conference seems like it should no problem living up to the hype this year.