The Bee's Ailene Voisin ponders 10 questions entering the upcoming NBA season.
1. What is the most overrated stat?
The plus-minus. This metric is supposed to demonstrate how a team fares with different players on the court, but there are plenty of times when a player is terrible and still receives high marks.
2. Does coaching matter?
Absolutely, though you wouldn't know it from the number of quality former head coaches (George Karl, Stan Van Gundy, Nate McMillan, Phil Jackson, among others) who are either working as assistants or will be watching NBA games on TV this season. There is much to be said for giving opportunities to longtime assistants – or even proven college coaches – but nine rookie head coaches seem a little much. That means rookie coaches are on the hot seat for almost one-third of the league's teams. It also means owners have plenty of alternatives when losses add up and expectations are unfulfilled.
3. Coaching move that makes no sense?
Jason Kidd in Brooklyn. The recently retired point guard – and future Hall of Famer – might prove to be a hidden asset in one sense, though. The next time Deron Williams is sidelined for an extended period with another injury, the Nets can fire Kidd, apply to the league for an emergency exemption, give him a jersey and see what he can do with a bunch of old guys.
4. Can money buy everything in sports?
Brooklyn has the highest payroll this season at $101 million, followed by Miami ($85 million), Chicago ($82 million), the Lakers ($80 million) and the Knicks ($80 million). Interestingly, the always-relevant San Antonio Spurs are 17th.
5. What is the most underrated factor?
Good health. Imagine the Lakers with a healthy Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol? The Chicago Bulls with a healthy Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah? The Warriors with a healthy Andrew Bogut? The Heat with a healthy Dwyane Wade? And what about the 2002-03 and 2003-04 Kings with a healthy Chris Webber? To borrow from the most interesting man in the world, "Stay healthy, my friends."
6. Why did the Kings pay Cousins?
See No. 5. Unlike contemporaries such as Noah, Bogut and Brook Lopez, among others, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins – who was given a four-year maximum contract extension – is remarkably durable considering the physical pounding he absorbs in each game. He has missed three games because of injury in three seasons. Knock on wood. But if you aren't on the active list, you can't contribute.
7. How will Howard fare in Houston?
Dwight Howard is a rebounding machine, a shot blocker extraordinaire, an energy provider, an amiable guy, but as long as he's a late-game liability at the foul line, the Superman cape stays in the dresser.
8. Are the Spurs done yet?
Late-game mistakes cost them another championship, so while Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are another year older, coach Gregg Popovich's guys probably will come back a little edgier. And if nothing else, writing the Spurs' epitaph prematurely has made a lot of folks look silly.
9. The most entertaining teams?
I always opt for teams with an abundance of passers and shooters, so my list includes Miami, Minnesota, Golden State, Chicago, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Houston. One has to add a caveat to the Timberwolves, though, since Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic have spent too little time together because of injuries.
10. Is there life after David Stern?
Well, let's see. Paul McCartney enjoyed continued success after the breakup of the Beatles, so sure, the highly respected Adam Silver will be fine. And he knows what the job entails after spending more than a decade seated on the bench alongside Stern, who will retire Feb. 1 after 30 years as NBA commissioner.