Hero Ball – NBA 2012-2013 Season Preview

When last we left Lebron James he finally fulfilled his destiny. No, I’m not talking about the NBA championship he led the Miami Heat toward, nor is this a reference to LeBron earning his second Olympic gold medal with Team USA. I’m talking about LeBron James starring in his own Marvel comic book, LeBron King of the Rings, whose plot is recapped in the below panel.

Unless a general manager from another team had access to Pat Riley’s lab and was able to access LeBron James clones there are only two teams with a chance to overthrow the Miami Heat this year, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Last year’s runner-up the Oklahoma City Thunder have two players with otherworldly talent in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They can both score from any part of the court, but they both have holes in their all around games. Durant is too skinny to rebound or defend power players while Westbrook is known to make boneheaded turnovers at the least opportune times. Durant and Westbrook are both young enough to polish the rest of their games to match their brilliant offensive repertoires, but I don’t think Oklahoma City has the leadership to get them to the Heat’s level. While I am impressed with their coach Scott Brooks’ sportsmanship (he was shown on camera in last season’s Finals telling his team to make sure to congratulate their conquerors), his substitution patterns and defensive strategies were flawed. Oklahoma City’s front office further messed up by not trading Westbrook to Orlando for Dwight Howard.

Orlando instead got much worse players for Howard and shipped him to the Los Angeles Lakers joining current and former all stars Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Ron Artest, Antawn Jamison, and Kobe Bryant. Going down the roster the Lakers seem to have the most talent of any team in the league with a couple caveats. Nash is 38 years old, Howard is coming off back surgery, Kobe Bryant has never liked passing the ball, but what gives me the most doubt is their coach, Mike Brown. Brown coached the Cavs with LeBron and could not figure out how to get the best from the King of the Rings, so forget him being able to coerce Kobe to play a team game. Expect the Lakers to lose a tight Western Conference Finals where Kobe hijacks the ball from the more efficient Nash, Gasol and Howard. Mike Brown will get canned and Phil Jackson will be rehired as the Lakers coach.

Let’s discuss a real coach in the Miami Heat’s Brain on Biscayne, Erik Spoelstra. Not only did Spoelstra finally get LeBron to take up residence in the low post  and motivate the rest of the Heat to play top notch defense, he did so with an exquisite fashion sense and the good looks to make Keanu Reeves blush (four months in I’m still keeping my pledge of only saying nice things about Erik Spoelstra this season).

The Heat added three point shooting legends Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis which in addition to already having Mike Miller, James Jones, Shane Battier, and Mario Chalmers might mean the Heat will shoot a record number of threes this year. I will try not to let this long distance shooting aggravate me, by repeating the mantra “We won the championship last year. We won the championship last year.” As long as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can stay relatively healthy in the post season, LeBron will do his superheroic feats in June and the Heat will win their third NBA Finals over the Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 games.

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