NBA Preview: Top Story Lines
Blazing New Trail
Greg Oden's arrival tosses the shovel into the grave where the Jail Blazer Era is buried. Oden joins an already talented young roster that features all-star Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. The first playoff appearance since 2003 seems likely.
The Bynum Bounce
The Lakers didn't need Andrew Bynum to reach the NBA Finals. He might help them win a title. Back from a season-ending knee injury, Bynum provides the tough, physical presence the Lakers lacked against Boston. He and Pau Gasol should help lighten the load for reigning MVP Kobe Bryant.
Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady have a combined 12 all-star appearances, but zero playoff series wins. Acquiring Ron Artest is the classic high-risk/high-reward move. The Rockets needed a third option and someone with edge, but does the volatile Artest amount to overdoing it?
The 76ers were a surprise playoff team last season, winning with two Andres (Miller and Iguodala), some spunky youngsters and a lot of running. Then, they stole two-time all-star Elton Brand from the Los Angeles Clippers, considerably raising expectations for a franchise that hasn't won a playoff series since 2003.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen embraced the principles of the Bantu phrase "ubuntu" -- sacrificing for the greater good -- to win that elusive first NBA championship. Now the Big Three has a chance to enter Celtics lore: The franchise hasn't won back-to-back titles in 40 years.