The stars who I grew up rooting for and against like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are literally on their last legs and knees. Although the Miami Heat and the OKC Thunder are the prohibitive favorites to contend for an NBA title I truly believe that the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics are being foolishly overlooked. This season promises to be a farewell tour of sort for many of these soon-to-be first ballot Hall-of-Famers but despite their age I assure you that they will not go quietly into the night.
The Lakers garnered most of the attention when they won the coupe of the summer by signing both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. These additions along made the Lakers an immediate favorite to challenge for the NBA title but the play of their bench will be the true deciding factor. Although he did not get a press conference holding up his Laker Jersey or a team photo with the more popular acquisitions, Antawn Jamison will be relied on heavily to provide invaluable minutes off the bench. Laker nation are already envisioning a return of the showtime Lakers but when the two of the three stars are nearly 40 and their stars having a laundry list of injuries (ankle,knees, back, fingers) the need for significant contributions from their bench will be crucial.
Although the Boston Celtics are down one amigo with Ray Allen signing with the Heat their off-season acquisitions via the draft and free agency gave them more depth on the front court and quality defenders at both guard positions. To replace the NBA’s All-Time 3-pt leader the Celtics signed Courtney Lee and Jason Terry who are great defenders and serviceable three-point marksmen in their own right. Jared Sullinger has already earned the respect of veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and based of of his play in the preseason he will certainly be an invaluable contributor on the Celtics bench.
As usual the San Antonio Spurs registered little media attention as expected. After registering the best record in the NBA for two straight seasons the Spurs signed Tim Duncan to an extension and retained its core from the past two seasons turning a blind eye to free agency all together. Coach Popovich has done a masterful job of managing the minutes of his veterans (Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker) while also developing the talent of his younger stars (Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and T-I-A-G-O Splitter)
These three teams certainly have the talent and the experience to not only contend for an NBA title, but also to win it as well. How their coaches manage the minutes of their veterans will play a huge factor in ensuring that they enter postseason play healthy and injury free. Although the young thoroughbreds in OKC and Miami may get off to a fast start, do not be surprised if you see these more veteran laden squads concede home court and in efforts to gear up for the REAL 16 GAME SEASON, known as the playoffs.
Will the Spurs register more DNPs for their star players again this season? Will chemistry be an issue in Boston and Los Angeles? Will any of these three teams road to retirement include an NBA Championship in 2013? Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark