Considering the amount of hype the NBA received over the summer, its 65th season will surely go down as one of the most anticipated in the history of the game.
How will LeBron James and Dwyane Wade mesh in Miami? Can Phil Jackson get his fourth three-peat, and second with the Lakers? How will the rookie seasons of John Wall and Blake Griffin fare? All of these questions were on the minds of many basketball fans as the regular season kicked off on Oct. 26.
Knicks fans were excited to see how the team would play with the big name acquisition of Amar'e Stoudemire. The more important free agent pickup, however, could end up being Raymond Felton; Stoudemire can't be a massive upgrade from David Lee.
The Knicks haven't had a reliable point guard in years, and if they can rely on Felton for 16 - 18 points and seven assists per game, that would go a long way in getting a seven or eight seed in the playoffs. The development of the young talent of Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler will end up being the deciding factor on the season. If Gallinari can stay healthy enough to stand on the three-point line all game and Chandler continues his average of 21 points and 10 rebounds through the first three games, the Knicks will probably squeak their way into the playoffs.
Of course, this doesn't take into consideration the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony midway through the season, which is looking more and more like a lock to happen. If it does, the Knicks will probably have to let go of Chandler and Gallinari as well as someone like Kelenna Azubuike and a first round pick. It would be worth it, though, for probably the one of the best pure scorers in the league, second only to Kevin Durant.
The outlook for the Knicks is pretty good because there aren't many powerhouses in the East. Other than Miami, Boston and Orlando, the Conference is wide open. Of course, there are other teams on the rise like Milwaukee, Chicago and Atlanta, but these teams are on about the same level as the Knicks. An extra win here or there could end up being the difference between an eight seed and a four seed for these teams.
The West is a different story. There are as many as eight legitimate teams that could get to the conference finals. The Los Angeles Lakers are always going to be there, and the Oklahoma City Thunder look to be the leaders for the two seed early on. Golden State, Dallas, San Antonio, Phoenix and Utah all look to be contenders with the pieces they have put together. But the team I think will sneak up on people this season is the Sacramento Kings. Tyreke Evans will be recognized as a top point guard in the league by the end of the season, and as long as DeMarcus Cousins doesn't lose his head - as he tended to do sometimes at Kentucky - he could average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
By the end of the season, it seems impossible that Miami doesn't win the East barring some massive injury to James or Wade. The West is more wide open, but Durant could overtake Kobe Bryant as the king of the conference. The Thunder is a young team with amazing talent in the backcourt with Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the only problem they have is that they don't have a guy who can match up with the Lakers' big men. Either way, it's going to be an amazing season for the NBA.