Editor's Note: Front-paged
We have all seen something this off-season. That something is what I, and probably many of you, hoped to see end when we had a lock out thanks to the new CBA.
However, this off season showed that not even a lockout and new CBA can stop big market teams from getting better while the smaller ones diminish. Little by little, the strong get stronger while the remainders are left to linger in shame.
I don't think this will be the case this year, however. With the insertion of several "Mini Dream Teams" into the league I think the NBA will adapt and change into a more team-based league, as opposed to what is has become in the 2000s, which is a contest of who can give the ball to their superstar more often and win.
Wind the clocks back to the greatest Summer ever. We defeated the Heat. Sports writers can make excuses and say they weren't ready, or LeBron played poorly, or even that referees helped us out too much(believe it or not, some people have actually argued this to me). However, the fact of the matter is that we outplayed them as a team. Carslile was able to design an offense that tackled the weakness and holes in Miami, and his defensive schemes showed the world that if you play them man to man you'll get torched, but if you give them different looks, things could get interesting.
I think over the course of the year teams will begin to play the powerhouses (Los Angeles, New York, Miami) the way we did and produce results. Little by little these NBA coaches, some of the most brilliant basketball minds on Earth, will find a way to play as a team to defeat the big guys. Just give it time. Every team will find their own respective way to challenge the big guys. Make no mistake about it, if simple basketball is played, all 4 (those 3 and the Thunder) will have probably 63+ win seasons. If teams play straight up man to man and just run basic offenses they will get torched. But once defenses get more creative, and offenses more complex, it will make for an interesting year. However, do not forget one important factor. They have to be beaten by teams. Players can not beat these powerhouses. Opponents are going to have to play synchronized, team basketball as we did in 2011.
Also factor in that mostly, these teams are not deep. They have great players in the first 3-5 roster slots, but once you get down to the subs or for some even the lower starters, teams like us, the Spurs, Celtics, etc.(what I guess you can consider second tier powers) have better teams. Lets also not forget that one issue with too many superstars is that they all need to have the ball in their hands to produce. Unlike role players, a superstar is not going to sit around the 3 point line and wait for a kickout to hit a three. They will look to be more aggressive and want the ball more often. This is where good rotations(Back to the defensive schemes aforementioned) and a 24 second shot clock could hurt them.
Finally, take into account that these guys will face battles every night. Nobody will take a day off against them. When at home, every team will play hard to show their crowd they can beat the big teams. On the road, it will be a chance to go into their house and shut up their fans. I know this is always a factor, mind you. I just think players in the lower market teams are probably as sick of hearing about how great these teams are and how nobody has a shot as I am.
I'm not saying these teams will fail, I'm just saying not to throw in the towel just yet. As we showed the world in 2011, well timed team basketball can and will defeat a team full of superstars. I'll close this with one last , uhm, prediction, if you will. The best team in the league this year will be the Thunder. Because it seems to me that out of all of the big teams, OKC plays the most unified, team ball. They have the deadly combination of skill and teamwork, which I think will leave teams like the Lakers, despite the incredible additions of Howard and Nash, overwhelmed and outmatched.
Now, as always,