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Locked out no more — a look at what’s to come

The lockout is over.

I never thought I would read those words in regards to the NBA this year, and yet here I am, jumping for joy after unwrapping the early Christmas gift that was given to me by Billy Hunter and David Stern.

As you can tell, I am a fan of the NBA.

I know there are tons of people who say they don’t want anything to do with the NBA after this lockout and that they could care less if there is ever another game played.

However, I’m here to tell you that this NBA season will be the best NBA season in recent memory.

Let’s start with the schedule. It will likely start on Christmas day and will be 66 games long. Although 66 games is still a long season, the 16 fewer games will result in much more urgency throughout the season, as a team won’t be able to go on a run like the Heat did at the start of last season and make it out completely unscathed. I think the schedule makes every game matter just a little bit more, which should raise the intensity of each game as the season progresses.

A lot of people will also expect the defenses to be more terrible than usual this year. I actually believe the contrary — defenses will actually be better this year than last year. The short preparation time for the season will likely make it more difficult, like it did in the NFL, for coaches to perfect their defensive schemes. Obviously, NBA defensive schemes are a little less complicated than NFL schemes, but coaches still may not be able to get all of the defensive setups working perfectly by the time the season starts. So how does that make the defense better? Coaches won’t make their defenses too complicated and will have to stick to the fundamentals of how to play defense, which I think will actually result in better team defenses.

As for your Phoenix Suns, they are one of the three teams who were helped the most by the NBA lockout. With Steve Nash at point guard, the Suns will play some of the best “team” basketball in the league this year. When you have a veteran who can act as an on-court coach, distribute the ball and run the offense the way Nash can in a shortened season, the result will be a Suns team that will have great chemistry from the start of the season into the playoffs.

Yes, you read that right. The Phoenix Suns will make the playoffs.

The other two teams that benefit the most from this lockout are the Boston Celtics and the San Antonio Spurs. Both of these teams are filled with veteran players who are getting up there in age. The shorter season will give those veterans less of an opportunity to get hurt and will result in less wear on them so they will be more ready for the playoffs.

Their veteran leadership will also help the team’s continuity during the season, as those older players can also act like an extension of the head coach on the court.

While I do think the Suns make the playoffs, I don’t think they’ll get past the Spurs, Thunder or Lakers.

Here’s a quick rundown of how I think the season will go…

Coach of the Year – Mark Jackson

Rookie of the Year – Derrick Williams

Defensive Player of the Year – Dwight Howard

MVP – Kevin Durant

NBA Finals – Celtics over Spurs 4-3

While my opinion on the NBA and the season to be might differ from others, I’m just glad to be talking about NBA basketball once again.

Here’s hoping for a great season.