A new NBA season dawns with familiar contenders like the Lakers and Nuggets seeking another title, while retooled rosters across the league provide intrigue. After a frenzied offseason, some teams stayed pat while others aggressively remodeled. But realizing potential is easier envisioned than achieved once the games begin.
Just as past champions like Miami and Cleveland eventually sputtered, sustaining greatness is hard. Injuries, chemistry issues, and expectations can derail once-harmonious rosters. Yet this uncertainty makes each season a compelling journey.
While known stars anchor predictable faces, the reinvented teams filled with upside offer the most excitement. Did the Nets finally build a cohesive core? Can the new-look Clippers fulfill their promise? The scent of change is in the air, but fulfillment isn’t guaranteed. As the journey embarks, these overhauled rosters provide the most unpredictability and upside.
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The Houston Rockets underwent a dramatic makeover in the offseason after finishing with one of the worst records in the NBA last season. As a consequence of their futility, Rockets games were largely ignored and unavailable to most viewers outside of Houston. But a series of high-profile moves has brought renewed intrigue and expectations to the team heading into the 2023-24 campaign.
The Rockets created a splash by hiring Ime Udoka as head coach mere months after he led the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals as a rookie coach. His defensive pedigree and championship experience bring instant credibility. The signing of veteran point guard Fred VanVleet also adds leadership, playmaking and a winning pedigree to mentor Houston’s youthful core.
Perhaps the most polarizing acquisition was combative wing Dillon Brooks via a lucrative 4-year, $80 million deal. Brooks is renowned for aggravating superstars like Draymond Green and LeBron James. His antics during Memphis’ chippy playoff series versus Golden State enhanced his fame. Brooks recently raised his profile again by serving as an agitator and defensive stopper for the USA’s shorthanded FIBA World Cup team.
Between a new respected coach, marquee veterans and the existing potential of recent lottery picks like Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr., Houston appears primed for a return to relevance. While unlikely to contend for a championship, reaching the play-in tournament or competing for one of the final playoff spots in the West seems plausible.
With a revamped roster and playing style under Udoka, expect far more NBA viewers to be tuning into Rockets games this season to track their progress. The rapid turnaround in Houston will be an intriguing storyline to follow across the 2023-24 NBA calendar.
The Dallas Mavericks enter the 2023-24 season facing immense pressure and uncertainty after drastically underachieving last year. Despite boasting Luka Doncic and adding mercurial star Kyrie Irving, the Mavs stumbled to an 11th place finish in the West and failed to even make the play-in tournament.
This debacle demands soul-searching. Was last season an aberration or indicative of deeper flaws? Are Doncic and Irving committed to righting the ship? Preseason play showcased discouraging lineups featuring raw rookies next to the stars, reflecting ongoing struggles with roster construction.
Simply put, Dallas cannot afford further mistakes. Another lost season could prompt Doncic to demand a trade rather than waste prime years on a rudderless team. While role players like Grant Williams and Rishon Holmes were signed, the Mavs lack assets for meaningful upgrades.
With limited options, Dallas faces immense pressure to finally click and qualify for the postseason. The threat of spiraling into irrelevance looms large. Each game takes on extra meaning, as renewed failure could derail the organization and Doncic’s future in Dallas.
The Mavericks remain an enigma, with their erratic play and unfulfilled potential breeding uncertainty. In a cutthroat Western Conference, they no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt. It’s now or never for Dallas to salvage its teetering trajectory. The viability of the current core hangs in the balance.