By Andrew Bolton
After a summer filled with intrigue, the NBA season could not come soon enough for hoops junkies everywhere. Everyone watched as the entire NBA landscape went through some unforeseen and incredible changes. No team, even the hometown Pistons, came away from the off-season unchanged. Let’s take an alphabetical look at the 26 people, teams, places, and ideas that will dominate the 2010-2011 NBA season.
A is for Absence: The fans’ absence, that is. Aside from a few teams (Lakers, Thunder, Magic, others) that always draw well, last year was a horrible year for the NBA. Attendance was down. Viewership was down. Revenue was down. A combination of a lousy economy and lousy teams were enough reasons to keep many folks at home during the season, especially in our state, where the Pistons home sellout streak ended. Will the fans continue to stay away this season? What can the league do to get them back?
B is for Big Threes: Ever since Boston won the 2008 NBA title, teams have been trying to copy their formula for success: Trick Kevin McHale into giving you his franchise player, and then pairing him with two all-stars. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, McHale is no longer a GM, so it’s much harder to create a Big Three. Still, a few teams have managed to do it. We all know about the one in Miami. Oklahoma City has a pretty good three-pack with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green. The original Big Threes are still around for Boston and San Antonio. But the one I’m most interested in is a potential Big Three forming in NYC: Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul going to play with Amare Stoudamire. Does the scoreboard go higher than triple digits?
C is California: Once again, the state of California has the most interesting basketball in the country. The Lakers are out for another three-peat. The Clippers (with a healthy Blake Griffin) are out to prove that they aren’t the Clippers. Golden State has the most explosive offense in basketball with Monte Ellis and Stephen Curry. The Kings have a talented young roster with Demarcus Cousins joining Tyreke Evans. Not only does California have the best or most interesting teams, they also somehow have the best fans. The crowds for all the home games are always unbelievable. Can the state of California rule the Western Conference this season? (This man’s opinion: no, of course not. The Clippers will always be the Clippers. Golden State doesn’t play defense. The Kings are too young. And the Lakers are too old. Finally.)