Every year there are those story lines that people love to talk up about the season and then end up becoming moot points. Well, these are just the opposite. These are the story lines no one is talking about that could determine the season for some teams. Now I wish I could guarantee these holding true all season, but of course you cannot predict an 82-game season completely so bear with me.
1. The Dallas Mavericks and their point guard situation
A lot of people are talking about how the Mavs went out and got the Chandlers to play for them. They got back a defensive stopper and rim protector in Tyson Chandler, and an all-around player in Chandler Parsons who was vastly underpaid in Houston (making less than a million a year as a second round pick).
However, people forget they will not have the same floor general as last year. And in fact, they will not have any of the same guys (with the exception of third-stringer Gal Mekel).
The Mavericks traded Jose Calderon away along with Shane Larkin, who many fans were excited to see at full health, to get Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. Then they signed Jameer Nelson after the Orlando Magic released him this summer. Devin Harris is still there and could start, but who plays after him? Nelson is getting older (33 this coming February) and Raymond Felton cannot be trusted to show up in shape. Nelson will probably get the most of the backup minutes this season unless Felton pulls a 180 and maybe drops that many pounds. But that could be a downfall to an otherwise nicely built team.
2. Paul Pierce heading to D.C. and becoming an end of career journeyman
Should this turn out to be the last season Paul Pierce plays, people may not remember him for his time and championship with the Boston Celtics, but for his wandering in his last few seasons. Pierce just wants to win though, and he can still potentially start for the Wizards after they let Trevor Ariza go to Houston so it is a win-win for him.
Pierce also gives the Wizard’s guard duo of Bradley Beal and John Wall some battle-tested playoff experience they will need to tap into when they get to the playoffs again this season.
3. The Phoenix Suns are going to be sneaky good (or maybe not so sneaky)
If you look at the Suns’ roster, you will probably find your jaw dropping. Their starting lineup: Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe (thank you sweet baby Jesus that deal got done), Gerald Green, Markieff Morris (the better twin), and Miles Plumlee. Now look who they have in reserve: T.J. Warren (NC State), Isaiah Thomas, Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), P.J. Tucker, Alex Len, Archie Goodwin, Marcus Morris, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Anthony Tolliver. There are more guys, but they will not see the floor except in scrub time.
That is a pretty darn good team and one that should get into the playoffs despite the strength of the Western Conference. They just have talent stockpiled and they will certainly get the chance to use it playing in their conference.
4. Will Cleveland’s starters be enough to get them to the Finals?
Many people have already talked about how Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James already equal the biggest of the Big 3 and they should automatically be put into the Finals.
Not so fast (thank you Lee Corso) my friend!
Have you looked at the bench? Mike Miller will be there sure, but you will have to break him out of his cryogenic freezing chamber every 10 games. Joe Harris is unproven, as is Alex Kirk, and now they have a D-and-3 guy in Keith Bogans thanks to some player maneuvering.
Meanwhile guys like Brendan Haywood and James Jones have one purpose while on the court, and I have no clue what to think about Matthew Dellavedova.
If they can create some sort of quick chemistry, then they might be alright. The big question is: Will Kyrie Irving be the leader of this team or will he be willing to bend to LeBron’s will?
5. Greg Monroe re-signing with the Pistons and forcing them to play a humongous front court again
This is just a brutal situation for Greg Monroe. No one even dared to sign him to an offer sheet during the summer in fear of the Pistons matching it anyway. Now Monroe is stuck with a one-year deal, but will be able to go wherever he pleases next season as an unrestricted free agent.
But now you are telling me they have a new coach in Stan Van Gundy (who I love) and he will make everything better?
OK, so he is going to have to play a traditional two big-man set, and who does he sit? Monroe and Andre Drummond are both young bigs that are not going to be willing to come off the bench. We all know Josh Smith is not doing it either, so what happens?
Van Gundy will have to make moves before the trade deadline, especially since Brandon Jennings is a point guard who does not particularly like to pass the ball. This team just will not be good this season and you can hold me to that. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.