Photo: Wikimedia Commons
This week we saw a flurry of trade activity that dramatically altered the landscape of the NBA. The NBA Title favourites remain the same, but plenty of other things have changed in the Association. Here’s what we’ll be paying close attention to the rest of the way:
- How will the new-look Knicks fare? We already know they won’t be playing much defence, but it will be very interesting to see how Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire co-exist. Amar’e made his desire for a co-leader well known, but both of these guys are used to being the alpha dogs of their teams. Much like how Miami struggled at the beginning of the year, the new-look Knicks might take time to learn how to play together. If that’s the case, how will the fans react?
- Will Boston regret dealing Kendrick Perkins? We’ve already discussed this ad-naseum, but we think the Celtics made a critical error by dealing away their big man. Perkins hasn’t been the same since returning from injury, but it takes time to fully recover from a torn ACL, and Perkins has only been back for a month. Boston gave up its biggest advantage by dealing Perkins, so it will be very interesting to see how they handle life without him in the playoffs.
- Is Oklahoma City a contender now? The Thunder have taken their time allowing their young core to develop, but it’s clear they believe they can compete for an NBA Title right now. The biggest thing missing from OKC was big-time size down low, and they got that with Perkins. Jeff Green is a nice player, but the Thunder can replace him fairly easily. With a top notch scorer, an elite point guard, a banger down low, and some very solid role players, the Thunder are now a team to be reckoned with.
- How good are the Bulls? Chicago went 22-8 without Joakim Noah, who happens to be one of the league’s best rebounders and probably the second most important player to the Bulls after Derrick Rose. Chicago may regret not upgrading at shooting guard, but this team has shown it can play with anyone as currently constructed.
- Will the Lakers figure it out? The Lakers slogged through the first half, and though they’re still the three-seed in the West, there are clearly some chinks in their armour. Of course, that may not matter come playoff time when the Lakers have proven that no one is better than them. Still, you had to figure that this team would get old at some point.
- What will Blake Griffin do next? The Clippers aren’t in the playoff race, but Blake Griffin’s nightly highlights have made them must-watch TV nevertheless. After he jumped over a car at the Slam Dunk Contest, Griffin officially became a household name. The Clippers have a young group and could be a playoff team next year, so it will be very interesting to monitor their development as the season rolls along.
- Will Portland sneak up on people? The Trail Blazers have been attacked by the injury bug yet again, but once again they’re in the thick of the playoff hunt. Yesterday’s acquisition of Gerald Wallace was a genius move, and if Portland can squeeze one more run out of Brandon Roy, they could shock the world in the playoffs.
- How will Miami do in the playoffs? With everything else that has gone on in the NBA over the last few weeks, the Heat have actually avoided the spotlight for the first time this season. That won’t last long, as the most scrutinized part of the year is about to arrive. The Heat have silenced critics and look like they’ll be an NBA Title threat annually, and we’ll get our first glimpse of the Heat in the postseason shortly.
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