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There was a time not so long ago when it looked as though there wasn’t going to be a 2011/12 NBA season. Having kicked off the new shortened season on Christmas Day though, basketball is back, with a bang.

Proving the folly of every sports writer who fretted over the very future of the game, while its players supposedly held it to ransom, what has followed the NBA’s return has been nothing short of mesmerising. In just 10 days, it seems we have been treated to an entire season’s share of talking points on the court, as team’s play hectic schedules in order to fit in 66 games each before the play-offs.

The LA Lakers, for example, have somehow already managed to play seven games with characteristic inconsistency, winning four and losing three. Despite the season being so young, there are calls for something to be done about this apparent lack of form and Orlando Magic centre Dwight Howard has been touted as a potential trade option, even though current incumbent Andrew Bynum has averaged 17 rebounds and 22.7 points per game so far.

The Oklahoma Thunder have continued where they left off last season, blistering form on the court followed by blazing rows off it from their All-Star pairing of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Meanwhile, the Miami Heat began the season in trailblazing form, winning their first five games in a row – including a 129-90 demolition of the Charlotte Bobcats – with LeBron James averaging a mammoth 29.3 points. That run was brought to an end by their Southeast Division rivals Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, as Joe Johnson and Co continue to prove they might just have what it takes to mount a serious tilt at the play-offs this year.

The Heat’s unbeaten start to the season may be over, but one of the surprise elements of their success so far has been the form of rookie point guard Norris Cole. Cole, who was the 28th pick in last year’s NBA Draft, is the team’s highest scorer outside of the Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and has been a more than useful playmaking option off the bench.

And it isn’t just Cole who is enjoying an encouraging start to his NBA career. No.1 pick Kyrie Irving – thought by many to be the best of a bad bunch when he was picked up by the Cleveland Cavaliers – is already seen by many to be a shoo in for the Rookie of the Year award. Averaging just shy of 15 points a game and six assists, the former Duke guard has helped the Cavaliers, officially the worst team in history last year, start the season with three wins.

Fellow rookies, Ricky Rubio, MarShon Brooks, Brandon Knight, and even Jimmer Fredette have also been able to mix it with the big boys. All of which proves the game has a healthy future. It’s just a shame it took them so long to get off the negotiating table and back on the court.