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Wood's Word: NBA season getting under way

The NBA season is almost here, and I currently find myself unable to think about anything else.

While this is mostly due to my love for the Utah Jazz, there is simply something so exciting about the beginning of the season. Every team has the opportunity to begin with a fresh record and push its way to the top of the standings. That is, until the beginning of the season is over. Then it will be time for the Miami Heat and every other great team from the opposing Western Conference to get situated in their comfy positions until the season is over.

The NBA is providing us some of the biggest powerhouse teams than it has in a long while, and I, for one, am very interested in what will happen this season.

It’s difficult to imagine that the Eastern Conference can put up the same level of play that the Western Conference has been able to do for the past few years. However, there are many possibilities to see a champion rise (again) from this conference.

The Miami Heat is very obviously the favorite to come out of the otherwise weak Eastern Conference this season. Along with the big three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, the Heat has added former Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen to the roster, making it an even better team than was seen last season. With more experience under its belt, including an NBA Championship, it would be no surprise to see the Heat in the finals again this year.

There are, however, a few other teams from the East that should not be overlooked. The Boston Celtics refuse to give in to old age and, despite losing Ray Allen, they saw a successful offseason, drafting Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, and have also added former Dallas guard Jason Terry to the mix.

The Indiana Pacers were a surprise to many last year and may be doing the same this season. They were able to keep most of their roster from last season, including Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and David West.

The New York Knicks have the potential to improve despite losing Jeremy Lin. They added veteran Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and former Jazz member Ronnie Brewer to give them a boost. The Chicago Bulls have the potential to make a stand this year, but much of it depends on the return of former MVP Derrick Rose, who is expected to return later on in the season.

The talent-heavy Western Conference will be displaying many excellent teams this season, and it would be difficult to predict which teams will see the most success.

The Oklahoma City Thunder will return to action after having lost the NBA finals to the Miami Heat. It brings back a very talented roster, with scoring champion Kevin Durant leading the way. Big things are expected from the Thunder this year.

The Los Angeles Lakers have had arguably the most productive offseason, acquiring all-stars in center Dwight Howard and guard Steve Nash. Although they lost Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, a starting roster of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol looks pretty intimidating.

The San Antonio Spurs continue to push through their age and show that it is not yet a factor. The Spurs were tied for the best record at the end of last season, and, knowing the proficient coaching from Gregg Popovich, they will find their way high up the Western Conference standings at the end of the season.

Other Western Conference teams with high expectations include the Los Angeles Clippers (led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin) and the Denver Nuggets (who recently acquired all-star Andre Iguodala).

Another team to watch out for this season (although it may be a biased opinion from this columnist) will be our home-town heroes: the Utah Jazz. While the Jazz won’t be putting up the numbers that the Thunder or the Lakers will, they had a busy offseason and continue to improve a very young roster. The Jazz possess one of the deepest rosters in the league and, if a system can be worked successfully around them, they should improve significantly from the last seed in the West.

It is difficult to predict who will be ultimately crowned the NBA Champions this season, but it will be one of the most exciting and eventful seasons we will have seen in a long time.

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