The NBA season is finally here. NBA junkies will get a full 82-game, six-month regular season. Most fans do not begin to pay attention to the NBA until after Christmas, but for those sports bettors that are salivating at the thought of spending the next three months with a full plate of NFL, NCAAF and NBA games to bet on, here is a quick look at four of the biggest storylines heading into the season.
Can Lebron James make the Leap?
The biggest storyline heading into the NBA season will be whether or not the Miami Heat will repeat as NBA Champions. Last year’s run was anything but easy, and if Derrick Rose didn’t tear his ACL in the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers things might have been different. But the Heat were able to win a NBA title on the back of a few massive LeBron James performances, and after the finals experts were beginning to believe that James had finally but it all together.
The question of whether or not they can repeat will be predicated on just how good LeBron can become this year. The Heat are not the best team in the league—despite what many fans and experts would have you believe. Miami simply does not fit well together and won last year’s title based on talent alone. But that will not be enough this season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and a few other teams lurking.
The big question behind Miami’s repeat aspirations is whether or not LeBron can make ‘the leap’. And by ‘the leap’ I mean reaching a level where he completely takes over the NBA. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson did it in the 80s, winning a combined eight NBA titles in 14 trips to the finals. Michael Jordan did it in the 90s, winning six NBA titles in an eight-year span. Both Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant did it 2000, so now its LeBron’s turn.
Miami Heat related odds from Bovada: Odds to win the NBA title +225, “Over/Under” regular season wins 60.5, LeBron James MVP odds +190.
How will the James Harden trade affect Oklahoma City?
The Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden because they did not want to pay him a max-contract and, thus, have to pay the luxury tax penalty. The Thunder got an excellent deal for the reigning ‘Sixth Man of the Year but weakened their team substantially in the short term. Oklahoma’s biggest strength was chemistry. They had a team full of young 20-somethings who had grown into a championship contender together.
It’s difficult to project just what impact the Harden trade will have on the team. Harden was perhaps the team’s best playmaker and took a lot of pressure off of Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. Harden was a security blanket for the team when the erratic Westbrook would have one of those games where he shot the ball 25 times and refused to pass the ball to team superstar Durant. The Thunder may have just thrown their shot at an NBA title out the window by trading Harden over a $5 million difference.
Oklahoma City Thunder related odds from Bovada: Odds to win the NBA title +450, Over/Under regular season wins 58.5, Kevin Durant MVP odds +375.
How good will the Los Angeles Lakers really be?
The Los Angeles Lakers had one of the best offseasons since, well, the last time they added two future Hall of Fame players in Karl Malone and Gary Payton to their roster in 2004. The biggest question surrounding the Lakers has been whether they will have the chemistry to actually make the Dwight Howard and Steve Nash signings work.
The Lakers have not looked great during the preseason and were not able to win a single game — not that they were really trying. But I believe the chemistry issues are over blown. The offense will be run by Steve Nash, one of the greatest chemistry guys to every play in the NBA. Nash is one of those players that truly make everyone around him better.
Experts having been focusing on Howard, but the major element to the Lakers success this season will be the Nash and Pau Gasol dynamic. Both players running a pick and roll will be deadly because of Gasol’s mid-range game and passing ability. The Lakers offseason moves might not work, but I believe they will be a juggernaut and winning over 60 games is well within reach.
Los Angeles Lakers related odds from JustBet: Odds to win the NBA title +250, Over/Under regular season wins 57, Kobe Bryant MVP odds +1,200.
Are the Brooklyn Nets a contender in the Eastern Conference?
Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has held back no expense in trying to make a contender out of his team. The Nets have the third-highest payroll in the NBA and only the Lakers and Heat have spent more. The question now is whether or not the Nets can become a legitimate title contender.
Brooklyn will trot out a team lead by Deron Williams and have talent at every position. They can rebound, they can score, they have big men, they have guards. On paper the Nets fit together better than the Miami Heat. The Nets are a team that could easily win 55 games and make a deep run into the playoff. Williams is a leader, great passer, and one of the best players in the league—expect him to have a great season and be a legitimate MVP contender.
Brooklyn Nets related odds from Bovada: Odds to win the NBA title +3,300, Over/Under regular season wins 44.5, Deron Williams MVP odds +2,500.
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