From LeBron James potentially bringing a championship to Cleveland, to the Warriors potentially repeating, to seeing what Kobe Bryant has left in the tank at 37, a lot of NBA stories are getting a lot of juice as the season kicks off.
But what’s a story that’s not getting as much pub as it should?
“Well, the underlying thing for me is there’s two big-time coaches from the collegiate level that moved up to the NBA level, and they moved into strong teams and strong markets,” former NBA coach Terry Porter said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Obviously Fred Hoiberg in Chicago, there’s a lot of expectations on how that team is going to do in the East. And then you talk about (Billy) Donovan who was at Florida (and) had great success as a collegiate coach and now he’s with OKC and all their aspirations to come off a disappointing year with having some of their key guys hurt last year. Both of those guys have championship pedigree in regards to what they expect. It’ll be interesting to see how they mesh with the new coach and the new system. That’s going to be intriguing.”
It’s been a frustrating couple of seasons for both franchises, especially the Thunder. Oklahoma City advanced to the NBA Finals in 2012, ultimately losing to the Heat in four games, but the future was bright. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden were all under the age of 25.
Well, Harden was traded to Houston, and either Durant or Westbrook (or both) has been injured seemingly every season or postseason since.
Assuming that Durant, 27, and Westbrook, 26, can stay healthy, can that duo achieve success together? Can they win an NBA title?
“I think you can have two alpha dogs,” Porter said. “People would agree that Kobe and Shaq was two alpha dogs. Obviously that didn’t happen long, but I think in the short-term, it was very successful and I think that’s played out before. I think there’s been other situations where that’s been successful. I think they have a good rapport. I think they know each as Batman and Robin, so to speak, in regards to how important each of them are to he development of that team. In order for that team to achieve something, they both have to be playing at a high level. So I think there’s a pushback. Maybe the people outside who kind of think that, I’ve never really sensed that.”
Porter is also interested in seeing how LaMarcus Aldridge fares in San Antonio and how the rookies impact their new teams.
“It’s going to be a great year,” Porter said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how everything pans out.”