With the NBA season less than a week away from officially starting, you’ve probably noticed we’ve been pumping out enough preview content to bury even Hasheem Thabeet. Over the next week, we’ll be taking a look at the 10 biggest storylines of the 2013-14 season. Today, we’re giving you a preview of what’ll surely be one of the craziest playoff races in some time…
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It’s no secret that the West has been the stronger NBA conference over the last few years. Last season, 10 of the conference’s 15 teams went at least .500. Compare that to a weaker Eastern Conference that saw the 38-44 Milwaukee Bucks lock up a playoff spot.
However, the best team in the NBA still comes from the top-heavy Eastern Conference. With the offseason acquisitions of Michael Beasley and Greg Oden, the odds will be in favor of a Miami three-peat after a “better” LeBron James told The Miami Herald he’s improved his game this offseason in every aspect.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, Indiana added more ammo, returning swingman Danny Granger and adding Luis Scola. Chicago brings back 2011 MVP Derrick Rose to a defensive-minded roster that certainly could have used an offensive push during their second-round matchup with Miami last season. Brooklyn added veteran leadership and on paper, their team will start five players who have been All-Stars in the past two years. Then there is New York, who according to J.R. Smith, is a “100 percent” lock to win the NBA championship.
However, if the playoffs were based on the top 16 teams with the best records, there’s a high probability the majority of those would be from the Western Conference. This season, the West looks to be deeper than ever with 12 of the 15 teams having a legit shot of making the playoffs, and six of them looking like potential contenders. From the offseason acquisitions of the Los Angeles Clippers to the New Orleans Hornets, the “Wild Wild West” looks to be even crazier than before.
The teams on the outside looking in are the Utah Jazz, who lost Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to free agency; a rebuilding Phoenix Suns organization and the Sacramento Kings, who also took a hit in free agency through the departure of Tyreke Evans. Outside of these three, it’s anyone’s guess which eight will be postseason-bound.