Two months of NBA action is in the books and the good tidings of the New Year is upon us. Both NBA conferences have surprised, inspired and baffled us with various storylines in 2012. Now it’s time to look ahead to some of the more intriguing questions from each conference in 2013.
*** *** ***
5. Will the Celtics regain their competitive edge?
This is a team that was rebuilt for another run at a NBA title. Currently they are playing like a team built for the lottery. They say their confidence is unshaken but with a 14-16 record entering 2013, the Celtics have more questions than answers. Boston is a team rich in tradition and part of that recent tradition is to struggle out of the gates and to round into contender form as winter turns to spring. But with a roster that isn’t gelling, can they do the reverse Cinderella again this year?
Currently, they are struggling on defense (15th in opponents points per game), atrocious in rebounding (30th), and mediocre in scoring (13th) despite significant improvements to their perimeter offense’s personnel. Expectations are too high and unrealistic regarding the return of sparkplug Avery Bradley. While he certainly helps, he doesn’t solve the eye sore problems of rebounding and post scoring. Rumors are swirling about the Celtics possibly adding the likes of Marcin Gortat or the mercurial DeMarcus Cousins. All of that is speculation and could even do more harm than good, especially if two of the worst attitudes in the league (Rondo and Cousins) were to become teammates. Boston is not who they once were and they definitely aren’t who they thought they would be.
4. Will John Wall and Andrew Bynum play this season?
John Wall is one the league’s most exciting players and the knee injury that has sidelined him was supposed to be minor, keeping him out until mid-December at the latest. The team insists Wall neither had a stress fracture nor stress reaction, but he was quoted as saying his knee cap was in the beginning phases of breaking before he was shut down. Either the Wizard’s medical staff doesn’t know diddly or the team didn’t want to reveal just how gruesome the news was. Either way, something is fishy but at least Wall has begun to participate in drill work with the Wizards. A new target of “sometime” in January is the hopeful debut of the former No. 1 pick. Washington could use his 16.3 points and eight assists from a season ago to improve on the NBA’s worst record.
Clearly the 76ers were hoodwinked, bamboozled and led astray in the deal that brought them Andrew Bynum and his balky knees. Bynum has been discussed in multiple articles on this site which shows his importance and immense talent, yet also illustrates just how strange the case of his knees is. The 76ers are handling things with class, giving Bynum time to recover while remaining competitive with the players who are healthy. The latest MRI showed improvement for Bynum but there is still no timetable for his return. Naturally.
Mystery clouds the air concerning the knees of these two NBA stars and their returns this season.