2012-13 NBA season preview
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
With the 2012-13 NBA season on the horizon, it is only right to provide an in-depth analysis of what to look forward to this season. This offseason has been action packed with trades, free agency moves and a stellar draft class.
Old rivalries will be renewed and new ones will be born. The Celtics and Lakers both have legitimate chances of meeting in the NBA Finals for the 13th time. And if not? We may have to settle for another rematch between Kevin Durant’s Thunder and LeBron James’ Heat. The NFL is in full session right now, but don’t worry, basketball fans: the NBA season has finally arrived.
Gagnon – Golden State Warriors: Second-year head coach Mark Jackson failed to produce on his promise when he first got to Golden State last year. He said the Warriors would make the playoffs. However, his transformation of the young, high-octane, run-and-gun offense into a stout, fundamental team defense will take more than one season. This year, they look promising to make a run at one of the lower seeds in the Western Conference playoffs. The Warriors have two solid big men (Andrew Bogut and David Lee), one of the best young shooters in the NBA (Klay Thompson) and a star youngster who finally appears healthy (Stephen Curry). On paper, the Warriors have without a doubt a top-eight team in the West; they just need to play up to their potential.
Smith – Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are back! Just a few years removed from quitting on former coach John Kuester, this year’s version of the boys from Motown should be ready to compete for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Yes, I said it: the eighth seed. Talented big man Greg Monroe is ready to take the leap into becoming one of the best big men in the East – along with first-round pick Andre Drummond impressing in the preseason, the Pistons will have a young frontcourt that will dominate for years to come. Improvements from second-year guard Brandon Knight, as well as continued production from Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye, and scoring from veteran Corey Maggette, will be critical for Detroit. The Palace will be a tough place to win a game in a division that will have a weaker Bulls team, a not-ready-to-win Cavs team and a Bucks team that will have trouble scoring. The East is weak enough that this group should win a ton of games.
Konze – Sacramento Kings: The Kings are a very young team that demonstrated small spurts of talent last season. The emergence of the Kings’ guards helped proved this true. Rookie Isaiah Thomas shot an impressive 37.9 percent from three-point range and 45 percent from the field. Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans and Aaron Brooks complement the surge of the young Thomas in the backcourt. DeMarcus Cousins has been a force inside, averaging 18.1 points and 11 rebounds per game last season in his sophomore campaign. If Thornton, Evans, Thomas and Cousins can fire on all cylinders, look for the Kings to compete for a lower seed playoff spot in the Western Conference and eliminate their “cellar dweller” identity.
Rookie of the Year:
Gagnon – Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: Lillard had the best offseason of any rookie in the NBA and has already grasped control of the starting point guard position in Portland. In the summer league, Lillard averaged 26.5 points and was a First-Team All Rookie selection. He followed that up by leading all rookies in scoring (16.2 ppg) in preseason play. Lillard can take it to the hole, hit the three-ball and he has a lot of high-quality scoring options around to help him succeed. With the pieces surrounding him, an above-average season from this floor general could bring the Trail Blazers back into the playoff hunt, where they belong.
Smith – Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets: The first overall pick from last year, “The Brow,” should have no trouble acclimating to the NBA game. His size may be a concern, as he will have to bulk up to battle down low every night against the NBA’s elite bigs, but the experience he gained in the London Olympic Games – battling against supreme NBA talent – will help him this season. His defensive instincts alone will help as he learns the ins and outs of being a big-time defender in the NBA. This future Defensive Player of the Year will help make the Hornets into a tough team night in and night out.
Konze – Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors: His college career never really lived up to the hype. There is a valuable explanation for this: Barnes’ game is fit for the style of play in the NBA. He is a great perimeter shooter, and with the floor more spread out than in college, he should be able to create his own shots. Barnes had a solid offseason, averaging 16.8 points per game and shooting 39.5 percent from the field in the summer league. Look for Barnes to make his case as Rookie of the Year. How could you not? He has a great supporting cast.