Sure, there the usual suspects, the Lakers will be there in the playoffs, and the Heat will be pushing hard up front, lead by the big three. These two usual suspects however have a bevy of dark horses priming themselves for a late charge at the title.
Over the past few seasons a number of smaller market franchise teams, have slowly been building squads capable of challenging the big time franchises. Lesser franchises have stopped relying on top draft picks as a result of losing seasons, and begun to build and develop "B" level players into quality topflight players, who can perform on a consistent basis, night in and night out.
The Oklahoma Thunder were seen to be a team that could challenge the Lakers domination in the West. Everybody presumed Kevin Durant would be the catalyst for their challenge that was until Russell Westbrook entered the court and instantly became the scoring phenomenon that now leads the NBA in scoring.
The Chicago Bulls are becoming a more cohesive unit at both ends of the court, making them more than capable of pulling of a few upsets in the opening rounds of the playoffs.
The New York Knicks have created a buzz in the heartland of Basketball. Crowds have returned that have not been seen since Patrick Ewing used to soar above the rim in majestic fashion. Amare Stoudamire has a legitimate claim as the buy of the season. His new found maturity is rubbing off on his team mates who are playing with a higher sense of belief and faith that has been missing over past seasons. Also the imminent trade of Carmello Anthony moves the New York Knicks in from dark horses, to a direct threat this season.
The Celtics might be in need of a good nursing home, but with age comes experience and these guys have been through it all. Add Shaq to the squad and you never know what might happen.
The last time NBA fans across America were this excited as a whole group, we were watching Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan invent the style of play we now get to enjoy every night in the NBA. Who knows how this will play out? Either way it's safe to say the NBA has already won.