Question of the day: Which NBA team will have the most surprising season?
Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
The same thing happens every season: Splashy offseason moves get made, and the old pros get overlooked. There may be a Big Three in South Beach, but the original Big Three are still around. And, yes, the Celtics will have a better postseason than the Heat.
Granted, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are a year older, a year slower. But when the games slow down, get tighter and more physical and defense needs to be played in the half court, the Celtics are still the team to beat.
And give Doc Rivers credit for striking the right balance between regular and postseason. He knows he can't ride his Big Three anymore. But with dynamic Rajon Rondo still around and Shaquille O'Neal accepting his role, this team is deeper than last season's Eastern Conference champions.
Maybe it's not a surprise for defending champions to be picked to repeat. But after the Summer of LeBron-a-Palooza, it is.
Zach McCann, Orlando Sentinel
The Washington Wizards won 26 games last season, and few pundits expect them to surpass that mark this season. With Gilbert Arenas’ injury-faking and headline-making, Andray Blatche’s inconsistency and John Wall’s inexperience, there are far more questions than answers surrounding the Wizards heading into the 2010-11 season.
But beneath all of the corn-popping drama and tomfoolery lies a whole lot of talent on the Wizards basketball team.
Wall is a legitimate rookie-of-the-year candidate who, at just 19 years old, may be one of the league’s 10 best point guards already. Blatche –- when his head’s right -– can score down low at an incredibly efficient rate.
Javale McGee and Al Thornton are improving. Kirk Hinrich was a sneaky-good pickup, and Arenas’ antics overshadow how good of an off-the-ball scorer he could be alongside Wall.
If there’s a coach out there who can handle a nonconformist, youthful cast of characters, it’s Flip Saunders.
It’s hard to be surprised by anything in Washington these days. That said, don’t be surprised if the Wizards sneak into the playoffs this year.
[Updated at 11:52 a.m.:
Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times
The Memphis Grizzlies will be one of the surprising teams in the NBA this season.
They have the potential and the talent to have a good season. They may not make the playoffs, but the Grizzlies will be right on the cusp.
Memphis finished 10th in the Western Conference last season at 40-42, and it was in the running for the eighth and final playoff berth late in the season.
The Grizzlies have a 20-10-machine in power forward Zach Randolph, who averaged 20.8 points and 11.7 rebounds last season.
The Grizzlies also have a big-time athletic small forward in Rudy Gay who is starting to develop into a nice all-around player, especially after playing for Team USA this summer in the World Championships.
And the Grizzlies have an offensive weapon at shooting guard in O.J. Mayo and a very solid center in Marc Gasol.]
Photos, from top: From left, Boston's Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Credit: Charles Krupa /Associated Press. Washington Wizards guard John Wall. Credit: Andrew Weber / US Presswire