National Hockey League regular season in full swing, that can only mean NBA basketball is right around the corner – and we couldn’t be more excited.
This offseason was one of the best in recent years, with plenty of storylines emerging, everything from LeBron James’ return to Cleveland, to Kevin Love’s Minnesota departure, to the NBA draft and more. Now teams are sifting through rosters and trying to narrow it down. To help get you excited, we chose 10 of the league’s stars and predicted if they’d be a boom or a bust this season.
Ed Miller is a contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
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NBA Preview Boom Or Bust
Anthony Davis - New Orleans Pelicans
It’s hard to believe Davis is just 21-years-old – he certainly doesn’t play that way. In two seasons with the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans, the unibrowed wonder has emerged as one of the NBA’s superstars. Last year, the 6-foot-10 power forward racked up 9.2 rebounds per game to go along with his 20.8 points per game – and this is on a team that finished dead-last in the division. The more we read about Davis, the more outlets say he’s the next big thing. The Pelicans have added a few pieces around Davis, but one or two more wouldn’t hurt. He’s going to have a great year, though.
Blake Griffin - Los Angeles Clippers
Last season, when he wasn’t doing GameFly of Kia commercials, Griffin averaged 24.1 points per game, while shooting 58.2 percent from the field. The Los Angeles Clippers, however, were once again bounced early in the postseason, leaving many questions about the team. Griffin shot just 46 percent – down from 53 in the regular season – in the Oklahoma City series and failed to be a stand out player that could carry the team. He’s more than just a one-dimensional dunker and although his numbers have been great, it’s time for Griffin to lead the Clippers to a title, or be forced to face the Los Angeles media. A finals appearance will happen this season.
Chris Bosh - Miami Heat
As part of the Miami Heat’s all-star team, Bosh helped lead the franchise to two NBA Championships. The nine-time all-star performed well in the beginning but more recently was inconsistent, as his points per game began to decline. Now, with LeBron James in Cleveland, the Heat are going to rely heavily on Bosh – who accepted a hefty raise a few months back – to get the job done, especially with Dwayne Wade’s lack of production. It might not be a role that Bosh can transition back into, given the last few season.
Deron Williams - Brooklyn Nets
It wasn’t too long ago that Williams was one of the premier players in the Eastern Conference, popping up three-pointers with ease. During the 2011-2012 campaign, the now 30-year-old had a career year with the New Jersey Nets, however the move to Brooklyn hasn’t necessarily favored Williams. His numbers have steadily declined in the hipster capital and last season he averaged just 17.8 points per game. Not to mention, his ankle injury near the end of the season. Now, he’s healthy and poised for a solid year, but the pieces around him are less than stellar.
Derrick Rose - Chicago Bulls
Where do we begin with Rose? There’s no doubt the Chicago Bulls point guard has the skillset but there’s only one problem – he cannot stay healthy. In five seasons, the 26-year-old has played a full season just twice. Had he remained healthy, we are willing to be that Chicago would have hung yet another championship banner from the rafters. Rose’s career numbers are impressive though – 20.8 points per game, 6.8 assists per game, all while shooting 46 percent from the floor. Rose is healthy coming into this season and poised for a breakout year, the biggest question is can he stay healthy? And to be honest, we just don’t think so.
Kawhi Leonard - San Antonio Spurs
While Leonard might not be a household name just yet, the San Antonio Spurs small forward did one hell of a job covering LeBron James in the 2013 finals. It was clear after averaging a double-double of 14.6 points and 11 rebounds in that series, what the 6-foot-7 Leonard could do. Now, at 23, Leonard has already earned an NBA title and a Finals Most Valuable Player award – and he only made $1.81 million last year. That’s a steal. With Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and crew around him – and Gregg Popovich once again leading the Spurs – we expect big things from No. 2 this season.
Kevin Love - Cleveland Cavaliers
In six seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Love proved he was a dominant force in the NBA, averaging 19.2 points per game and 12.2 rebounds per game. It’s amazing what Taco Bell can do. Last season was one of the best for the 26-year-old power forward, averaging 26.1 points per game and 12.5 rebounds. Love now makes his way to Cleveland to play alongside the world’s best player and hopefully bring the city its first championship since God created dirt. It might take some time to gel, but he should fit right in. Dare we say, Love is en route to a future championship?
Lance Stephenson - Indiana Pacers
Who could forget Stephenson’s memorable playoff performance last season as a member of the Indiana Pacers? You know, where he gave LeBron all he could handle and in the process, became an internet sensation. Well, the 24-year-old shooting guard made his way to Charlotte in the offseason, joining a Bobcats – no wait, it’s Hornets now – team that finished last season with 43 wins. Last year, he averaged 13.8 Points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game on a solid team, this season it could prove to be more difficult. The Hornets lineup certainly lacks talent, with Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson proving to be the bright spots. Stephenson will get plenty of playing time and could put up big numbers on an average team – but we aren’t expecting too much.
Serge Ibaka - Oklahoma City Thunder
Sure, Ibaka might be towards the middle of any fantasy list, but that might not necessarily be cause for concern. The Oklahoma City Thunder power forward’s story into the NBA was an unlikely one, getting his start in the Republic of Congo, but last year he made a name for himself. It was a breakout year for the 25-year-old, who had career-highs in assists, steals, rebounds and made three-pointers. Did we mention he was on the NBA’s All-Defensive First-Team too? Now, in his sixth season, Ibaka will have to continue to improve if the Thunder want another shot at a championship and after his battle back from injury last postseason, there’s no doubt he’s committed.
Tim Duncan - San Antonio Spurs
There’s no arguing that Duncan is one of the greatest to ever play the sport. He’s done more for the city of San Antonio than any other player, but at 38, his best years are behind him. While he still put up solid numbers last season – 15.1 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game – it has been a slow decline for Duncan over the last few seasons. The Spurs continue to dominate however, as the young guys come in and the old guys go out. Let’s see what Duncan has left in his tank, though we’re thinking it’s going to be much less than last season.