The 2011-12 season was the first season this blog followed the path of The Basketball Champs Belt. Looking back on last season, the teams that held the Belt the most were the Knicks, Hawks, Heat, Pacers, and Thunder. I expect to see four of these five teams continue to perform at a high level this coming season.
- New York Knicks: The Knicks lost Jeremy Lin, but gained leadership and experience during the offseason.
- Miami Heat: The Heat gained several seasoned bandwagonners during the summer, who will only make the reigning NBA champions more difficult to defeat.
- Indiana Pacers: The Pacers traded Darren Collison, but another year of experience should prove beneficial for this team's young core.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: The young and talented championship runner-up will have something to prove this season as they seek their second consecutive NBA Finals.
Team of the Year
At the 2012-13 season begins, the Miami Heat are set to begin their defense of the Belt on October 30 against the Boston Celtics. If the Heat defend the Belt by defeating the Celtics, they'll defend it next against the Knicks on November 2. If the Celtics defeat the Heat and take the Belt, they'll defend it next against Bucks. After these games, the possible paths of the Belt become too numerous to explore in detail.
Photo by Gregory Davis [CC-BY-SA-2.0],
With each champion's next opponent subject to the whims of the schedule rather than a listing of top contenders, it's nearly impossible to predict with certainty which team will raise the Belt the most during the season. However, teams need to win games to win the Belt, and there is often a strong correlation between the teams with the best records and the teams that hold the Belt the most. With this in mind, the following five teams will have the best regular season records, putting themselves in the best position to win TBCB Team of the Year honors.
- Miami Heat: The Heat will dominate the Eastern conference, as there are no clear contenders who can match up well with LeBron James and his superfriends.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Fueled by their loss to the Heat and the awareness that this might be their last dance with James Harden, the Thunder will romp through the regular season.
- New York Knicks: Embarrassed by last year's playoff exit, improved by the addition of veteran leadership, and with a strong desire to show up the new team in town, the Knicks will do a better job this season of maintaining their focus and will pile up regular season wins.
- Denver Nuggets: George Karl's athletic Nuggets will push the Thunder for Northwest division supremacy. They'll likely fall short, but they'll be fun to watch and they'll win a lot of games in the process.
- Los Angeles Lakers: Steve Nash is again surrounded by high quality players, and he'll be the calming influence this team needs to win games against often overmatched opponents. Due to the need to integrate new players into a new system, I expect the Lakers to begin the season relatively slowly, but gain momentum as the season rolls into 2013.
Player of the Year
TBCB's Player of the Year, which is awarded to the player who wins more Player of the Game awards than any other, typically comes from one of top teams in the TBCB team standings. The players who led their teams to the Belt more than any others last season were Kevin Durant, Jeremy Lin, LeBron James, Josh Smith, and Danny Granger. Each of these players was from one of TBCB's top five teams, and I expect similar results this season.
Photo by David Seto
Like the regular season MVP, the Player of the Year race will come down to a battle between LeBron James and Kevin Durant. James will get an immediate advantage as the Heat begin the season with the Belt., and he also stands to lead his team to victory more often given his more well-rounded game. With this in mind, James is my prediction for TBCB Player of the Year. Durant will also be near the top of the standings, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him repeat his Player of the Year performance from last season.
Coming soon: TBCB discusses integration in the NBA, releases part two of our regular season preview, announces the next addition to the TBCB Hall of Fame, introduces our first guest poster, and reviews the 1952-53 NBA season.