The Weather Report

Another week in the books and the NBA couldn’t possibly be any wilder than it already is. The biggest acquisition of the summer was Dwight Howard. I don’t think anyone would contest that. But as of writing this article, the Indiana Pacers are the proud owners of an 8-0 start that bodes well for their rugged style of defense and their wildly underrated free-agency splurge this summer. Houston remains undisciplined and slightly confused on how to shore up their failed Asik/Howard pairing and a lubricous number of turnovers that has even Kenny “The Jet” Smith wondering about his beloved Rockets.

What is there not to like about the Pacers?

Paul George is turning into a bona fide star right before our eyes, and the Pacers play a smash-mouth type of basketball that would be suited for the gridiron. Perhaps the only question looming is: how will the streaking Pacers fare against above-.500 teams? Did I fail to mention their hot start comes at the expense of sub-.500 teams that are trying to figure out the season during the first few weeks?

Either way, I’m buying the Pacers as an Eastern Conference juggernaut.

What about the South Beach connection? LBJ in the 307?

If you are a casual fan, you might look at their defensive woes and think they are in a steady decline, prime to have their throne usurped by the upstart Pacers. A slow start on the defensive end is about as common as Ray Allen hitting three for the Miami Heat during their legendary three straight NBA Finals appearances. The more important concern, whether you are a Heat fan or a LBJ detractor, is that he of two straight NBA Finals and regular season MVPs is calling out his team. This rings as bittersweet when considering that the Year of the Horse could see King James opting out of his lucrative contract and testing free agency once more.

Do I think he will be leaving South Beach?

No. I think the Heat front office will build around James once more, but I think the roster will look different come the 2014- 2015 season. Another title, vaulting this iteration of the Heat into the record books, might bode well for keeping most of the core. However, perusing free agency next summer offers some interesting possible combinations to line up with LBJ in South Beach.

What about the Warriors?

Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson/Andre Iguodala might represent one of my favorite line-ups in any back court in the league. That could be because I am a Dubs fan, but it could also be the ridiculous ceiling for Golden State, given continued growth and a large dose of a lack of injuries besieging the Warriors. I guess Sacramento fans can be excited that the middling Kings stayed in town, even if Cousins has yet to deliver on a monster contract.

Oh yeah, football games were played, too.

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Dan O’Brien wrote more than a dozen novels (all before the age of 30), including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. In addition, he has spent over a decade in the publishing industry as a freelance editor. He currently teaches psychology at CSU, Chico. You can learn more about Amalgam by visiting his website at: www.amalgamconsulting.com.