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NBA 2005

Let the New Season Begin

With the season getting under way, prepare yourself for an earful of news about dress codes, Kobe & Phil, Larry & the Knicks, Shaq, and Wade & the Heat. Sure, the Spurs will rightly get their fair share of press early on, but by Christmas, rest assured, we'll find Tim Duncan and his mates so boring... Just kidding. We'll have plenty of time to talk about the <i>contendas</i>, but this is the perfect time to mention a few teams who will have people talking.

<b>In the East</b>

<b>Milwaukee Bucks</b>
It's obvious that when you get the No. 1 draft pick, you get better. But Andrew Bogut aside, the addition of Jamaal Magloire and the return of TJ Ford are going to be big. With sweet shooting Michael Redd back and the ever-improving Bobby Simmons locked up, Buck fans will be able to purchase playoff tickets for the first time in a while. Break out the Jack Sikma and Terry Cummings jerseys.

<b>Cleveland Cavaliers</b>
Lebron James has a lot of qualities that remind me of Tim Duncan. Unselfish stars lead their team not only in stats but in finding ways to win games. That's Lebron, and with the additions of Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, and Damon Jones, the Cavaliers will be making waves wherever they go. A big potential draft pick: Martynas Andriuskevicius . It might take a couple of years, but if Marty can get some meat on his bones, watch out.

<b>In the West</b>

<b>Golden State Warriors</b>
Baron Davis -- if he can stay healthy -- and running mate Jason Richardson are going to get the Warriors into the playoffs. Simple enough. With a little help from their friends, the Warriors might
finally live up to their names. Look for Mickael Pietrus, Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy to continue improving. All really good teams have role players who step up in any given game, and just help the team win. These three are perfect relief to their all-world backourt.

<b>Los Angeles Lakers</b>
Kobe isn't just going to turn in his finest season, he's going to do it in as a leader. 2005 will be redemption for Kobe and PJ's emphasis will be on defense and ball movement. But the Lakers are
young so expect them to squeak into the playoffs. Lamar Odom will take his lumps but he's looking at a potential all-star year.

<b>Other Teams To Keep An Eye On</b>

Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards

<b>Top Five</b>

San Antonio Spurs - They're all back, unselfish, never satisfied.

Detroit Pistons - Tough, tested, hungry and a bit mad at the way Larry Brown dissed them.

Miami Heat - Oh no, one Shaq ankle twist from going down in flames.

Houston Rockets - Yao, get mad. Tracy, stay healthy.

Phoenix Suns - Run and gun with Nash and the Matrix. Just hold the door for Amare's return.