The endless NBA offseason continues to drone on with no end in sight. As I sit and play NBA 2k14, and watch baseball my mind begins to wander and think about the 2014-2015 NBA season that seems so far away. I think about the storylines that I find most interesting, and am looking forward to. So now I present these five storylines to you. They are all unrelated to the Charlotte Hornets, which seems a little strange considering this is a Hornets blog, but I assume you readers are basketball fans in general and we can still have a good discussion about these topics. These may not be the storylines the national media is the most interested in, meaning they don’t involve Lebron, but for the basketball nerd that I am they are very intriguing.
Okay, this is not really an NBA storyline but it does have to do with NBA players. Paul George’s catastrophic injury and Kevin Durant’s decision to withdraw left a big hole on Team USA’s FIBA World Cup roster. They don’t have the luxury of taking it easy as this tournament features many formidable foes including Spain, who would love nothing more than to knock off the United States juggernaut. How will team USA shuffle their lineup? Coach K has plenty of options, but I bet they go small. Derek Rose, Steph Curry, James Harden, Rudy Gay, and Anthony Davis would be my choices. Rim protector in the middle and dynamic offensive players everywhere else. The quickness and shooting ability of this group would be unstoppable. It may leave them a bit vulnerable defensively, but I’m sure Anthony Davis and his long arms would love to collect blocks while cleaning up messes (By messes I mean any player James Harden guards getting into the paint at will). The bench is also full of quality players, so even though they lost two of their best players I think team USA will be fine.
- How will the Pacers deal with the loss of Paul George?
Other than the Hornets the Pacers are the team I follow most closely, so this story has been on my mind of late. The Paul George injury obviously did not just hurt team USA. It killed the Pacers’ chances of competing in 2014-2015. After letting Lance Stephenson move on to Charlotte it was going to be a struggle to score anyway for Indiana, but now they lose George’s 21.7 points per game and replace it with….? CJ Miles? Rodney Stuckey? The offense could get even uglier next season. A starting five of George Hill, CJ Miles, Rodney Stuckey, David West, and Roy Hibbert will not scare anyone. David West becomes the go-to scorer, a role that seems to have surpassed him. Without some sort of big trade it could be a long year for the Pacers.
- Can the Suns get over the hump?
The Phoenix Suns came out of nowhere last season to contend for a playoff spot. Their high powered offense was good for 7th in the league with 105.2 points per game, and point-guard Goran Dragic burst onto the scene averaging 20.3 points, and 5.9 assists per game. They also saw unexpected contributions from Miles Plumlee, the Morris twins, and PJ Tucker. All that on court improvement, and excitement led to a 48-34 record…..and being one game short of a playoff spot. They have retooled this offseason adding Isaiah Thomas in free agency, and drafting Tyler Ennis and TJ Warren. They have a good young team, and a young, inventive coach in Jeff Hornaeck. Can they break through in a loaded Western Conference?
- Who will win Rookie of the Year?
The 2014 draft class was one of the most obsessed-over draft classes in recent memory. Now that these guys all have a team, who will take home Rookie of the Year? The frontrunners will likely be Jabari Parker in Milwaukee, Andrew Wiggins in (most likely) Minnesota, and Julius Randle with the Lakers. Other guys who could have impact seasons include Aaron Gordon for the Magic, Dante Exum for the Jazz, TJ Warren for the Suns; the list goes on and on. My preseason pick would be Jabari Parker as he seems to be the most NBA ready prospect, and should be an important part of the Milwaukee Bucks offense. I could see almost any of the instant impact players winning the award this season; I look forward to seeing who separates themselves from the pack.
- Can Steve Kerr turn the Warriors into contenders?
The Warriors are one of my favorite teams to watch. Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson are heat checks waiting to be ignited and their three point barrages make for must see television. Last season they struggled to live up to expectations and Mark Jackson was let go after a first round exit against the Clippers. Enter Steve Kerr. Five time NBA Champion, former Suns General Manager, and former television analyst. He is well regarded around the league as a very intelligent basketball mind; however he has never been a head coach in the NBA before. As we saw with Jason Kidd in Brooklyn last season sometimes there can be an adjustment period. All indications are Kerr wants to run an up-tempo offense relying heavily on Curry and Thompson’s shooting ability which will make them even more fun to watch. It will be interesting to see if he can successfully utilize a “small-ball” lineup with Curry, Thompson, Andre Igudola, Harrison Barnes, and David Lee. Mark Jackson toyed with it at times during his tenure, but always seemed to fall back on a more traditional lineup. Stay tuned.
There you have it. Five storylines to watch in the 2014-2015 season and none of them have to do with Lebron James! What other storylines are you intrigued to see play out? Let us know in the comments! Also, if you’re starved for basketball make sure you check out Team USA take on Brazil in an exhibition game, tonight on ESPN at 9:00.