This Year’s Lockout-induced, shortened season has felt like anything but excitement, as has been the theme throughout. Trade talks are at a premium and the line between contender/pretender teams has never felt so blurred. It’s leaving fans with many questions, so many that I couldn’t possibly compose a list of all of them; but that doesn’t mean I won’t try. In fact there are 4 questions that jump out due to their importance and implications, and those we will take a look at.
1. Are the Chicago Bulls Title Contenders?
Thoughts: A lopsided playoff loss to powerful Miami last spring raised doubts about how good Chicago actually was…well they’ve responded, in a big way. Up to this point they’re 40-10 and hold the league’s best record. They’ve also had a number of meaningful victories over playoff teams, with a number of those coming without Derrick Rose. However, until The Bulls can beat an elite team in a playoff series they will remain just a very good team. Their inability to score consistently minus D-Rose remains a concern, a concern big enough to stall their title hopes at least another season.
2. Did Dwight Howard Make The Right Move?
Thoughts: After the fiasco he put everyone through, Dwight remained in Orlando despite vigorously demanding a trade. The popular location for D12 to land was thought to be New Jersey, but that trade just never materialized. That could end up being a real shame for New Jersey as this season wraps up (more to come on that). Now that Howard has signed on for at least one more season we will get to see whether that was wise. Orlando still seems short of having a squad capable of winning a title, but perhaps Dwight can be the difference maker. One thing’s for sure, if he can win a championship with Orlando (and with this squad), he may well be the true “Superman”.
Thoughts: Losing out on another potential franchise changing talent made the Nets desperate. To their credit, they did not panic and because of that they improved their team with the acquisition of Gerald Wallace. A personal favorite of mine, Wallace is above all else an athlete; he can jump with anyone and can find ways to score on his own, which will be key for a lackluster New Jersey team. The bigger issue at hand is whether this move is enough to convince Deron Williams to stay with the team. The answer to that, at least as I see it, is that the Nets must do more to really improve. This one signing does not make the Nets any more of a title contender and must be complemented with another signing of a Superstar this off-season, or the Brooklyn move may become a disaster.
4. Who Are The Knicks?
The New York Knicks have been on a roller-coaster ride all season, going from awfully good to awfully bad several times, and at the end of the day which are they? The key issues seem to be the lack of cohesion and balance on offense coupled with a lot of (as Walt “Clyde” Frazier would say) “Swiss Cheese” defense. However, since the resigning of Coach Mike D’Antoni, the Knicks have shown a resurgent defense. They have shown this at times this season already, but have never sustained it for any period of time. If they can keep their commitment level up and continue to share the basketball they have a dangerous team. Since Interim Head Coach Mike Woodson has taken over, the trio of Jeremy Lin, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony have been gelling all while sacrificing individual stats for team victories; can that continue? That question in itself is the key to how good the New York Knicks can and will be.
Any Big Questions I Missed? How Far Will The Knicks Go? Thoughts?