In the East all eyes are on the Miami Heat showdown on opening night against the Boston Celtics. Miami boast firepower not seen since the Jordan-Pippen era and the Boston Celtics have one of the toughest defences ever seen in the modern era.
Sharp fans know what they see on opening night is usually way of the mark when the season comes down to the clutch games. However this time around it almost a certainty that these two teams will battle for the Eastern Division Series, 82 games later into the season. Whether or not Miami can pull all their star firepower into a cohesive unit is going to be just as exciting as whether or not they can win the Championship.
The only other franchises that can make a legitimate push for success are the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic. Both of these teams will be riding on the back of their big man to the playoffs. Milwaukee fast became definite contenders for the title last year due to the amazing improvement in Australian Centre Andrew Bogut. When he came crashing to the floor with a torn apart elbow joint, their aspirations came straight back down to earth. Orlando suffered the same fate although it wasn't Dwight Howard's elbow that came crashing down, it was his form.
In the West the average punter has there safe money on the Los Angeles Lakers to wrap things up with tentative ease. However if you take a closer look in the West, you quickly realise things are very different to previous seasons. The once dominant Kobe Bryant and LA Lakers will not have it all their way for a number of reasons.
The Oklahoma Thunder will roar into contention with a fast maturing point man Kevin Durant. Last year's leading point scorer in the NBA, Durant spent the offseason leading his country to a world Championship, showing class, flair and poise that usually is displayed by a leading veteran. Durant will re-enter the league with a stronger playing group around him steeled to have a run at the Lakers in the playoffs.
Just down the road the L.A Clippers are quietly going about their business clearly under the radar of the press and other franchises. Sporting their own trio of power players the Clippers lack depth, but if they can remain injury they will pose problems for any team in the league. Blake Griffin, last year's first pick in the NBA draft spent the entire season on the bench last year following a horrific knee cap injury. If Griffin can recapture his dominant form in the paint he showed in college the Clippers will add another dimension to their game.
Possibly the greatest threat to the Lakers hopes of another championship will not come from another team but come from within themselves. There are numerous questions that will have to be answered during the long NBA season before they can make a legitimate run at a third straight Championship. Is Kobe to old and slow? Is Kobe succumbing to many injuries from pounding the paint year after year? Are they motivated enough after two great years? Are they ready for the way every team will lift night in and out when they play the current champs? And the big X-Factor, can Defensive bookend Ron Artist hold it together mentally of the court to be of any value to his team?
Whatever happens this season the fans and supporters of the game will get one of the best season ever viewed by the NBA, well done David Stern.