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Petrilli Previews NBA Season

Comparing the start of the 2013-2014 season to last year, a lot is different, but the same teams remain at the summit. The Miami Heat are back-to-back world champions and look to be the first team to three-peat since the dynamic duo of Shaq and Kobe at the start of the century.

The core of the team has not changed and Miami has added two big pieces that are expected to make an impact right away. Michel Beasley, who began his rocky NBA journey with the Heat as the second overall pick in 2008, is expected to take some of the scoring load off of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. He’s a valuable swing man who, even though he’s had drug-related issues in the past, should be very effective with defenses concentrating on the Big Three and being in a champion or bust environment.

The other addition is big man Greg Oden, who since being drafted number one overall in the 2007 draft, has only played in 81 total games. When Oden has been healthy, though, he has shown glimpses of why he was taken over Kevin Durant. The biggest weakness for the Heat last season was rebounding, so adding two big bodies that both are very skilled in that area only adds to their all-star-like lineup.

Up north, one of the more intriguing story lines of the offseason is taking place. What’s the best team in New York?

The Brooklyn Nets added three championship players in Kevin Garnet, Paul Peirce and Jason Terry, plus all-time great Jason Kidd as head coach. There’s no arguing all three of them are well past their prime, but they and the organization believe they have enough to make a serious run at a title this year. The Nets already had a big three of their own in Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, so the additions only fuel the hype more around the Brooklyn area. On the other side, though, the New York Knickerbockers biggest problem is everyone coming together and playing defense. The past two seasons Carmelo Anthony has been in New York have been full of highs and lows but at the end of the day – still no championship. Speaking strictly offensively, you could make an argument he’s the best in the NBA. When it comes to team ball movement and team defense, that’s where the Knicks Achilles heel is. Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony playing on the floor together and effectively have yet to be seen and something Mike Woodson, their coach, will most definitely need to adjust.

But the addition of Meta World Piece, who should add a bad-boy and hard-play style, makes the Knicks even more of a challenge to go up against.

Out west, San Antonio stuck to its’ guns and is going with what they know and what works for them and not adding any big-time players in free agency. This will most likely be Tim Duncan’s last year in the NBA and Manu Ginobili’s last year with the team (if his numbers keep declining), so the San Antonio era may be coming to an end soon. They are still poised to make a run into May with more young talent rounding out the team, but the Western Conference is deeper than ever this year. Russell Westbrook will be back at full speed after being hurt in the playoffs last year, but can his shooting stay consistent and not take away shots from Kevin Durant? That’s still undetermined in Oklahoma City.

The Memphis Grizzlies are still a hard-nosed, old school basketball team focused on defense. But reports suggest they are looking to turn up the tempo on offense, so that should make them even more competitive.

As for Lakers’ fans, Kobe Bryant, A.K.A their only hope, is eyeing the beginning of the season as a return from the Achilles injury he suffered last year. There are several players with new homes this year, which should only add to the compelling stories lines on the NBA in 2013-2014.

-Robert Petrilli

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