5 burning questions for the season
by Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
Sure, LeBron James is happy to see Derrick Rose back in action now. So thrilled in fact that the Miami Heat star told reporters Sunday that he plans on calling his Chicago Bulls rival soon to welcome him back after he missed last season with a torn knee ligament.
The more-pressing question — one of many about the 2013-14 NBA season that finally tips off Tuesday when James and the Heat square off against Rose and the Bulls — is how James will feel about Rose eight months from now.
We’ll know then whether the Heat will go down as a dynasty or just simply go down, whether Rose or one of the many other injured stars on the mend can end the Heat’s title run at two, which teams overachieved and which ones escorted their coach into the unemployment line when they underperformed, and what it all might mean for a 2014 free agent class that is nothing short of epic.
Here are five burning questions for the season:
1. CAN THE HEAT REPEAT?
Can they? Of course. Will they? Probably not. As transcendent as James has proven to be – that’s four MVP awards in the past five seasons, you get the sense that the rest of the league is on the verge of stealing some of his thunder again (a la 2011, when Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks downed the Heat in the NBA Finals).
It may not be the actual Thunder, per se, as Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant is starting another season without his wingman (see James Harden a year ago, when the team traded the bearded guard to the Houston Rockets) now that point guard Russell Westbrook is expected to miss the first four to six weeks.
But the list of title-caliber rosters is longer than normal, from the upgraded Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets to the strong-as-they-ever-were San Antonio Spurs team that had the Heat beat in the Finals to all those contenders in between. And, yes, that list includes Rose and his Bulls.
“With the other teams [in the Eastern Conference] getting better, it could be a … [For more on Five burning questions for the 2013-14 NBA season, click here.]