By Taylor Brisco
The 2014-2015 NBA season kicks off tomorrow with preseason play between the New Orleans Pelicans and Miami Heat.
Last season was plagued by injuries to the league’s most noted stars, but this offseason proved to be full of action: the draft, big announcements, players sporting new jerseys, coaching changes and the controversies – just to name a few. All of this and more should get us excited about the upcoming season; it should be an entertaining one.
1. The King Returns Home
LeBron James left the Cavs four years ago after a disappointing Game 5 loss to the Boston Celtics. On Friday, July 11th, Cavs fans received the news they were hoping for – the King announced his return back to the team. Despite Cavaliers fans burning James’ jerseys, throwing away No. 23 memorabilia; they were able to easily forgive. The King will debut in regular season play with his new, old team on October 30th against the Knicks. The biggest question is whether or not the new big three in James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving will have chemistry on the court? We will just have to wait and see, but one thing is for sure, the number 23 is back to stay; well at least for the next two years.
2. The Rose Is Back
This is the season that all Chicago Bulls fans have been waiting for. Derrick Rose is back after two straight season-ending knee injuries. Will he go back to his strong play in 2011 before the injuries? Although he contributed to the USA FIBA gold medal title, the level of competition is nothing compared to what’s in the NBA. The former MVP will make his regular season debut at the Madison Square Garden on October 29th.
3. The Black Mamba Is Ready
Kobe Bryant addressed the media this week expressing that patience is going to play a key role this season. Coming off back-to-back season-ending injuries (2012-2013 season-ending Achilles injury and December 2013-2014 season-ending left knee lateral tibial plateau fracture), Kobe will hit the court in regular season play on October 28th. At 36-years-old, his 18-year career is assumingly coming to a close. Kobe, along with veteran Steve Nash, will try to repair a struggling Lakers team. It may take more time than expected to fix the once championship contender Los Angeles Lakers, but at least the Mamba is back.
4. Christmas Day Games
The NBA owns Christmas Day. But, last season’s play seemed uneventful due to several key players out (Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, etc.) and big blowout games. If all the league’s best returning and current stars stay healthy, this year should be a jolly Christmas Day. The New York Knicks will host John Wall and the Wizards to kick off the day’s play. Then, there’s a rematch of the Western Conference Finals matchup when the Thunder go to AT&T Center to take on the NBA champions, the Spurs. Up next is LeBron James’ return to South Beach to play the Heat. Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose will face each other as the Lakers go to Chicago. The final game of the day will be the emerging rivalry in California between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. If all goes as planned, each game should be thrilling.
5. The New Blood
The draft brought some rookies that will have significant playing time on suffering teams this season. As a result, the rookies will have to make a significant impact on their respective teams. Look for guards Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine to provide aide to the new look Minnesota Timberwolves. Also be on the lookout for the young combination between Jabari Parker and 2nd year player Giannis Antetokounmpo on the Milwaukee Bucks. Other notables are Julius Randle (Lakers), Marcus Smart (Celtics), Tyler Ennis (Suns) and Shabazz Napier (Heat).
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