Next Tuesday, October 28, the NBA championship 2014/2015 will start. This season sees the return of the Charlotte Hornets, who take the name of the first city’s team after New Orleans changed its nickname to Pelicans.
What are the favorite teams for the title? As always, there were many trades during the off season and now we’ll start seeing who made the right ones. Let’s see which teams might be the Conference semi-finalists.
It was a really busy summer in Cleveland. David Blatt was hired as head coach: he proved he’s a basketball genius, also with his recent Euroleague victory, but this is his first experience in the NBA. Andrew Wiggins was the first overall pick of the team. LeBron James returned to Cleveland. Wiggins was traded for Kevin Love. Somone think they’re already the favorite for the NBA title but there are some doubts. Who will be the center? If Brendan Haywood still has energy to give, especially in the playoffs, and the team finds a good chemistry the Cavaliers will be really hard to beat.
The severe injury suffered by Paul George while playing with the USA national team could affect the whole season for the Pacers. In addition, there are the usual doubts about Roy Hibbert. More than ever, it’s a team that can beat everybody but also fail miserably. Their potential, however, can’t be ignored.
They lost LeBron James but the rest of the team is really strong. I think the greatest question concerns Dwyane Wade’s health, which seems to be in decline. The team still has great potential and if Wade could return to levels close to his best years they may struggle to reach the Conference finals.
They lost Paul Pierce but the potential is still considerable. They have to find the consistency they lacked during the last season, also because it could be their last chance to move forward in the playoffs. Brooke Lopez’s health will be important as he could make the difference between a good season or be defeated by someone else, perhaps even their ex Paul Pierce and his Washington Wizards or the Chicago Bulls.
San Antonio Spurs
In past seasons, I had doubts about the Spurs because of their stars’ age. With the explosion of Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan decided to postpone his retirement. This is still the team that plays the best basketball in the NBA so I think it could fight again for the title. Everything will depend on the health of its extraordinary veterans.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant’s injury created new doubts about a team that already had some. However, if Durant could get in shape slowly and be at his best in spring, the Thunder could have an advantage in the playoffs. I think they still have the potential to fight for the title.
Los Angeles Clippers
This is a team that needs a major achievement to avoid doubts on its project. The new owner Steve Ballmer may have brought the necessary stability after last spring’s tough controversy. If they finally find some consistency, the Clippers could reach at least the Conference finals.
I think this is the pivotal year for the Rockets. They solved the Omer Asik issue after he went to the Pelicans, but who will be Dwight Howard’s backup? Trevor Ariza came back and that’s potentially excellent news for Houston. Now the team must pass the first round of the playoffs, otherwise there’s a serious risk that this project fails. Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors will be ready to take advantage of any weaknesses.