Shortly after 3:00 a.m. on Nov. 26, while many NBA fans recuperated from “Black Friday” shopping and full Thanksgiving meal stomachs, the NBA owners and players reached a tentative agreement to end the league’s lockout after 149 days.
Point guard and free agent Deron Williams, who signed a one-year deal worth $5 million to play for Besiktas in the Turkish Basketball League tweeted, “Guess ill be going home soon #LockoutOver! My time in Istanbul w/ Besiktas was amazing thanks for everything.”
Colin Stephenson of the Star-Ledger detailed—in English—the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
However, the details of money disputes between millionaires aren’t what matters to basketball fans. NBA fans want to see their favorite players and teams on the court.
Since a tentative agreement was reached, let’s discuss things NBA fans want to hear about.
When Will We See NBA Basketball?
The NBA season will begin its 66-game schedule starting on Christmas Day with a triple-header.
The Boston Celtics will take on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Miami Heat will head back to Dallas for a rematch of last year’s final against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks; and the Los Angeles Lakers will face the Bulls in Chicago.
NBA fans care most about what the season holds for their favorite players and teams.
Can the three-headed monster in Miami get it done this season? Can the Mavericks repeat? With a shortened season, do the aging Celtics and Lakers have a chance to win? Will Magic center Dwight Howard, Hornets guard Chris Paul, or Nets guard Deron Williams be traded?
These are the questions being asked, but there are others to pay attention to. Here are five more that should be in the mix:
5. Will Any D-League Player Make an Impact in the NBA?
The D-League started on November 19, so it’s still early, but out the gate, four players are averaging at least 28 points per game:
Guard, Blake Ahearn of the Reno Bighorns (Hawks, Grizzlies and Kings).
Guard, Justin Dentmon of the Austin Toros (Spurs).
Guard, Dominique Johnson of the Texas Legends (Mavericks).
Forward, Charles Garcia of the Sioux Falls Skyforce (Heat, Timberwolves and Magic).
If these D-League players get a chance to play in the NBA, they could make an impact—but they have to be used properly.
4. Are the Oklahoma City Thunder Ready To Win the West?
Two seasons ago the Thunder were a great story. They competed with the eventual world champion Lakers, but lost in six games.
Last season, the Thunder made it to the Western Conference Finals where they lost to the eventual world champion Mavericks in five games. Are they ready now?
Forward Kevin Durant is. But will guard Russell Westbrook be mentally prepared?
Is power forward Serge Ibaka’s stardom going to benefit center, Kendrick Perkins?
Can guard James Harden continue his outstanding play?
The Thunder is a young team that is capable of outplaying the aging Lakers, Spurs and probably the Mavericks. But they need to prove it.
3. Which Rookies Will Succeed Despite the Lockout?
With the NFL lockout, there was concern that rookies would struggle, unable to take advantage of mini-camps, OTAs and time with coaches.
Nevertheless, quarterbacks Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals have thrived.
Linebacker Von Miller of the Denver Broncos and Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has also thrived.
The NBA will see success stories from its rookies despite them not having the benefits of the summer league and time with teammates.
Special players like Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams should not have problems adapting in the league.
Shooters, like Sacramento Kings guard, Jimmer Fredette, should not have issues adjusting. Fredette knows what to do with the ball—shoot.
Players like Washington Wizards forward Chris Singleton and Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried can shine because they are go-getters. They both have scorers on their teams and won’t command the ball.
Singleton is a defender who can score as well. But the Wizards need his defense, not his scoring for key stops. Defense should be the move.
Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl is a defense-minded coach with mostly scorers on his roster.
Lucky for him, Faried is a defender and rebounder by nature, and the Morehead State all-time rebounding forward can defend the perimeter and clear the boards to get the ball to his scorers in transition.
Most rookies will struggle because they’re rookies. But for the players mentioned above, once they adjust to the speed of the game, should be alright.
2. Is the NBA Better Now Than Before?
Absolutely. Most NBA teams have studs, or future studs. When the Los Angeles Clippers play, watch Blake Griffin. The Timberwolves are on? Watch Derrick Williams.
In the 80’s, NBA games were recorded and later televised. Often the games featured the Lakers or the Celtics because they had Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Other teams with lesser stars didn’t get love.
The 90’s came and his “Airness” Michael Jordan dominated the airwaves and took on all challengers. But still, most teams didn’t have a guy worthy of attention.
Now, most NBA teams have a stud, or two, or three; that hometown fans and opposing fans want to—or ought to want to—see.
1. Who The Better Fit For The Knicks, Paul or Williams?
Paul is an excellent point guard. He’s quick, fast and can make astonishing plays in any arena, on any night.
But he is not physically built for the Eastern Conference style of postseason play, and that’s why the Knicks should go after Williams.
Paul can make any team better, including the Knicks. Forward Carmelo Anthony and forward/center Amare Stoudemire would love to have him, and he would fit Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense well, but the Knicks lack toughness, not offense.
Williams is tough. He is bigger and stronger than Paul, and might be as quick. He can score, he can distribute, he can work out of the post. He is basically Knicks’ point guard Chauncey Billups, in his prime, but so much better.