For those who witnessed the USA’s systematic destruction of the world at the recent Olympics and are now looking for a continuous flow of high quality basketball, look no further; the NBA is back. All of those medal-winning Olympians will be pitted against each other so, instead of one team hording all the good guys, several teams with various superstars will be challenging each other.

There’s a chance most of you won’t be too clued up on your basketball so allow me to give you the super ultra-basic package on this year’s title contenders, starting with the powerhouse favourites:

The Miami Heat have the best player in the NBA (Lebron James), have just won the championship and may be even better than last year. If you watched the last game of the finals you’ll know how important Mike Miller’s three-pointers were, so what did have the team done? Added Ray Allen, the best three-point shooter of all time, to their roster.

The Oklahoma Thunder lost said championship to the Heat, but proudly own the best young team in the land. Depending on how they deal with the upcoming James Harden contract situation, they might be faced with losing the reigning 6th Man of the Year and their only real offensive weapon other than Westbrook and Durant.

The LA Lakers upgraded from having the second best center in the league to the best in Dwight Howard. Team him up with the Black Mamba (Kobe Bryant), the best scorer of his generation (Kobe Bryant) and the man who’s dying to match Michael Jordan’s six NBA championship rings (again, Kobe Bryant) and you have a fearsome offense, even without two-time league MVP Nash at point guard, perennial All-Star Pau Gasol, big swingman Antawn Jamison and the grittily shady Metta World Peace (yeah, that’s his actual name). This might be the best agglomeration of experienced talent since the 07-08 Celtics, only this time the pieces are better.

Next up are the ‘old vets’. These teams are stacked with grizzly veterans who know how to win and have that knack of stepping on an inexperienced team’s throat. These guys have been there, done that, and got the Championship rings:

The Boston Celtics, with an ageing squad and having just lost Ray Allen, could be overlooked. But, if you consider the significant upgrade Jason “Jet” Terry provides defensively, Avery Bradley coming back and the potential spark Jared Sullinger can provide, the Celtics could surprise a lot of people with how good they are. Also, they have three 7’0” centers. Anything is possible with three 7’0” centers.

Finally, the San Antonio Spurs showed last year that they can win with consistency and a tough defence, and they went on to tie the Chicago Bulls for the best regular-season record in the NBA. Boasting the best power forward of his generation, a nifty point guard, a crafty Argentinian and a squad of over-achieving nobodies they manage to be successful due to the current Coach of the Year – the legendary Gregg Popovich. Kawhi Leonard can develop into a true star if managed properly, which being a Spur is a given. Don’t count them out.

Xavi Ribeiro

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