THE long-awaited return of the 'amazing' game will quell many a hearts next Tuesday as the NBA regular season returns. Headlined by trades like 'Superman' to the Lakers and 'Ray Ray' Allen jumping the Celtics ship to bitter rivals the Heat, TEENage brings you an update of the upcoming season.
AFTER two previous finals appearances, LeBron James finally clinched the ultimate prize of a NBA championship, leading the Miami Heat to only their second title.
With the 'Big Three' of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh still intact, the Heat have added three-point specialists Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen to their roster, meaning that they have an even greater perimeter threat as well as a deeper bench. Without a doubt, the franchise will be expecting to claim back-to-back titles.
The Boston Celtics will, for sure feel betrayed by Ray Allen's departure but stepping into the mould is Jason 'The Jet' Terry, who has already signalled his ambitions by tattooing the Celtics logo unto his arm. Another notable inclusion is former Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa. Doc Rivers will be hoping that his crop of players can still challenge.
Former league MVP Derrick Rose is still not 100 per cent so the Chicago Bulls may not be at the standard that fans have come to expect but no one doubts that they'll still pose a threat throughout the conference.
The Indiana Pacers have added some exciting rookies to their roster and will be expecting Roy Hibbert, Paul George and George Hill to maintain the grit that at one stage threatened Miami's title hopes during the play-offs.
The potential 'dark horse' of the conference is the Brooklyn Nets (formerly New Jersey Nets) who welcome Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace to the line-up. That being said, persons will still have teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks as those to battle for the lower ranked play-off positions.
The team that most will worry about is the Orlando Magic who have lost Dwight 'Superman' Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. A few expect that they will suffer a sharp decline much like the Cleveland Cavaliers without 'King James'.
SUDDENLY, the Los Angeles Lakers are back in title contention as Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard are now parading the colours of the franchise.
Following last season's demise there was a call to get Kobe more help and the decision makers certainly did so by claiming arguably the best defensive player and best point guard of the league. That being said, the major obstacle in their way is reigning Western Conference champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
They have not made major trades in the off-season, but many expect that to bounce back with a vengeance following their finals defeat to the Heat. Playing in the Olympics, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook all had an active summer and securing the gold medal may provide that extra boost of confidence needed to take them all the way.
A return to the play-off was a welcoming experience for the Los Angeles Clippers, but that will be with minimal expectation from Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and company this time around, while the Memphis Grizzlies and the Utah Jazz will prove themselves a challenge for most opponents on their day.
It's the beginning of a new era in Phoenix as they prepare for action without Steve Nash. They have bolstered their roster by bringing in Luis Scola and Goran Dragic (who returns after a stint with the Rockets) as well as forward Michael Beasley.
Another who will be embracing a new era is Jeremy Lin, having been acquired by the Houston Rockets. After his break-out performance last season, his true talent will be tested as he will be headliner of a revamped Rockets roster.
Sad to say, the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks were not major movers in trades, meaning that the core of their teams continue to age. Nonetheless, the play-offs are more than achievable with what is on hand. As for title contention this may prove to be too much of a task.