With the NBA season about to tip off, Gary Washburn examines some of the hot topics around the league:
FACES IN NEW PLACES
1. Dwight Howard, Lakers: He finally got his long-desired trade but to the Lakers, not to the Brooklyn Nets, the question is whether Howard can respond to the pressure of playing for a team expected to win now or else. Howard is coming off back surgery but should be the exact injection of youth and athleticism the Lakers need.
2. Steve Nash, Lakers: Nash agreed to come to Los Angeles for one final spot at an NBA title. The two-time MVP became the league’s best distributor in Phoenix and at 38, there is a concern whether he can continue to play at a high level despite all the weapons around him. Nash should respond to the occasion.
3. Ray Allen, Heat: As we all know, Ray left the Celtics to sign with the despised Miami Heat and will come off the bench, the same role he told the Celtics he would not accept. The Heat were looking for another shooter and veteran presence and Allen will fill in perfectly in that role. You just wonder whether he could have done the same thing here.
1. Anthony Davis, Hornets: He expected to play for the Hornets’ summer league entry but ended up replacing Blake Griffin on the US Olympic Team and improved immensely playing with future Hall of Famers. Davis is going to be fun to watch as he develops into a defensive force, and the Hornets will be better.
2. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers: The Portland rookie has been given the point guard duties and he should wow fans with his speed and talent. He was underrated coming out of Weber State, but he has garnered attention already and the Blazers will be improved.
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