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Chewing on the NBA

With the eternal wait of the offseason finally over, it's time to figure out who has the potential to hoist the trophy.

The+Cleveland+Cavaliers%27+LeBron+James+%2823%29+defends+against+the+Chicago+Bulls%27+Jimmy+Butler+%2821%29+during+the+first+half+at+the+United+Center+in+Chicago+on+Oct.+27.+Armando+
The Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) defends against the Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler (21) during the first half at the United Center in Chicago on Oct. 27. Armando

The Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) defends against the Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler (21) during the first half at the United Center in Chicago on Oct. 27. Armando

L. Sanchez | Chicago Tribune | TNS

L. Sanchez | Chicago Tribune | TNS

The Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) defends against the Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler (21) during the first half at the United Center in Chicago on Oct. 27. Armando

Greg Diaz, Editor-in-chief

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It’s here everyone. It’s the start of a new NBA season.

And after an off-season of trades and draft picks and free-agent acquisitions and coaching changes, there is just one thing left to get you ready for the season: the realization that your team’s title hopes are already dead.

Well, that may be overstating it a little. If you are a fan of the Spurs, Cavs or Warriors. But if your not, get ready for eight months of inevitability.

Because while the other major sports are built around genuine intrigue about who will win, an NBA season has more in common with “The Walking Dead.”

So many teams think that this is their year. Sadly, they are not the heroes of the show; they are the ancillary characters. That means it is not a matter of if they get taken down, but when.

But that should not ruin the fun. “The Walking Dead” is a huge hit, with people tuning in each week to watch other people become zombie chow. And just because the end may be spoiled there is still so much fun to look forward to this season.

Take the Lakers for instance. Sure, their season is already dead and rotting, but you just know that Kobe is going to find a way to take some players down with him. Granted, they will probably also be Lakers, but it will be interesting to see who he chooses.

Does he systematically cut down Julius Randle’s confidence? Does he crash into Roy Hibbert and break his ankle? Or does he finally just punch Swaggy P in the face? I have no idea; I just know that everyone is coming out the other end of this season scarred.

Memphis and Oklahoma City fans want to believe that they are title contenders. They aren’t. At this point they are clearly the person trying to outrun a group of zombies on a sprained ankle. They are only getting slower and the herd is gaining.

But Oklahoma City has Russell Westbrook, the one guy in the league that can do something completely jaw-dropping on any night. Want to see someone go coast-to-coast in 1.2 seconds; get a ticket. Want to see a player get his feet above a defenders shoulders; totally seems possible.

Memphis, meanwhile, is going to absolutely ruin somebody’s playoff dreams. Before the Grizzlies go down, they are going to trip up someone running next to them and limp away as fast as possible.

Moving to the Eastern Conference, I’m sorry, but outside of Cleveland you are all extras standing behind the main character. And that makes you all expendable.

Atlanta, Washington, Chicago, Toronto. If they couldn’t take down a LeBron and the LeBron-etes last season, what on earth are they going to do against him with a healthy Love and Kyrie?

But despair not Chicago fans, your team is going to rage against the dying of the light until there are no bullets left in the gun and then they are going to throw the gun. Washington fans, I know you’re already looking forward to the promise of the Kevin Durant-like cure to your particular infection. Atlanta fans, your team is the patron saint of NBA TV, and you will have an entire season of telling people, “Don’t sleep on the Hawks, you just haven’t seen them play.” And Toronto…you have universal health care.

Miami and Indiana, I know you are looking at the playoff landscape and thinking, “We are crashing the party this year, and everyone better look out.” Think again. You couldn’t even make the playoffs in the East last year. Milwaukee made the playoffs last year, and I’m not even sure half their players can go out for a drink yet.

Back in the west, the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans are sitting pretty with legitimate MVP-caliber players. But secure in their place among playoff teams, that complacency will only make them weak for when the real threats arrive.

I am legitimately psyched to watch Anthony Davis develop. His ceiling in the NBA is almost limitless. And his future this season relies on Jrue Holiday, Nate Robinson, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans. It is like that season of “The Walking Dead” when the strongest character was strapped to a baby; except it is like being strapped to four babies.

And the Rockets play possibly the worst brand of basketball I have ever seen. Seeing a team miss free throws is not that fun, and the Rockets take a lot of them. But what really intrigues me about the Rockets is this: what lives in Harden’s beard?

I know what you are thinking Clippers fans, you have a lot to look forward to this season. You aren’t going to be among the casualties that line the streets of the apocalypse.

For a team that has been good for a few years, the Clippers made some significant additions in Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson. They solidified an offensive and defensive weakness on the wing that has been a problem for years.

They also have a superstar in Blake Griffin that has grown better nearly every season in the league, a legitimate center in DeAndre Jordan for a league that is short on them, and one of the best passers that the game has ever seen in Chris Paul.

Of course, they also have a center that absolutely cannot touch the ball at the end of the game, a point guard with bad knees and a slew of players that love shooting threes (and really need to stop).

But all that adds up to the most intriguing question in the NBA: are the Clippers a main character in this league? For the first time possibly ever, they are incredibly equipped to match up with whatever the league can throw. But in a land of zombies, that’s often when things start going pear-shaped.

Are they going to face perilous situations and certain doom and fight their way out? Or are they going to be the just another body that the main characters discard on their way to the next episode?

The offseason was far too long, and I, for one, already have my popcorn ready for the season premiere.

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