Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Who leads the league in wins? How many? How do they do it?
Steve Aschburner: From my vantage point in Chicago, it’s only natural that I’m bullish on … Miami. Not that I’m suddenly a fan of the “super team” approach – I’m not – but in this case, after such a long, challenging season in 2010-11 to learn what works and what doesn’t work for that crew, the Heat are poised to make good on, well, let’s just start with one NBA championship. They have stars, they have continuity, they have three players who can carry the load on any given night – or on back-to-back-to-back nights – and they have something to prove. I see 56-10 as the setup for 16 more victories in the postseason.
Fran Blinebury: In the second year in coach Tom Thibodeau‘s system, with Derrick Rose reaffirming his MVP selection and with Rip Hamilton fitting into the lineup perfectly, the Bulls will reach a nifty 50.
Scott Howard-Cooper: The Heat will win 48. While they won’t be trying to peak for the regular season, they will have a lot more focus than 2010-11.
Shaun Powell: All the great teams will play each other frequently so the schedule doesn’t drastically favor any of the contenders. That said, it’s still Miami’s regular season against all others. There won’t be an adjustment period or a 9-8 start for the Big Three, unlike a year ago, and 50-plus wins sounds realistic. LeBron James will be hell-bent on proving those fourth quarters last June were a fluke and will be at MVP level but his atonement must wait until next summer.
John Schuhmann: I’ll guess that the Heat lead the league with 53 wins. They’ve got a year of chemistry-building under their belt. A healthy Udonis Haslem and the addition of Shane Battier give them more depth than they had last year. Dwyane Wade has an injury history, but LeBron James is indestructible and all three of their stars are on the right side of 30 (though Wade hits the big 3-0 in January). Finally, because of a lot of close losses, they were better than their record last season. Put that all together and I’d be pretty shocked if Miami doesn’t finish with the most wins this year.
Sekou Smith: That’s three questions in one. Oklahoma City is the team best equipped to get on a roll and crank out 51 wins in this abbreviated season. They have the most explosive scorer in the league in Kevin Durant, an equally explosive point guard in Russell Westbrook and arguably the best returning core group of any team in the league not named the Heat. The condensed schedule and back-to-back-to-backs will take a toll on some teams but not the young Thunder. They are loaded and will play with an edge all season after that stinging defeat in the Western Conference finals last season.