Appolicious powers Verizon Educational Tools

Previewing the 2010-11 NBA season, app style

by David Lister

There has not been an NBA game played since the middle of June, but after the most-hyped free agent period in recent memory, the FIBA World Championships and the Carmelo Anthony trade speculation, it feels like the 2009-10 season never ended.

A new season is indeed around the corner, though, and that means it's time for you and your iPhone to get ready.

Atlantic Division

The Boston Celtics have ruled the Atlantic Division since acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen before the 2007 season, and while their big three are past their prime, they still come into the 2010-11 season as the clear favorites to win this division.

Likewise, the clear favorite for basketball app of the year is NBA Game Time, of course assuming the league-released app returns this year. Last year's version did a great job of offering the comprehensive NBA experience, with news, live scoring, stats and even radio feeds of every game.

For those looking to watch live games, you'll have to wait for NBA League Pass Mobile, which last year allowed users to watch every live game and replays (for 48 hours, blackout restrictions apply) for a pricey $39.99. Like Game Time, there has been no news on the app returning for this season, but given the popularity of both, there should be some as the regular season draws closer.

Central Division

Unlike the Atlantic Division, the Central Division has no clear favorite. Former champs Milwaukee need Andrew Bogut to return to health, Chicago needs Carlos Boozer healthy and learning to play with his new teammates, Cleveland needs not to have been spurned by its (once) favorite son, and Indiana and Detroit need a whole lot of everything.

There are a few basketball apps that, like the Central Division, have a few needs. Pro Basketball Live  – 007 (99 cents) needs a new name, as while it is made by App007 it is still a confusing title. The app is a sort of basketball-only Sportacular, with a news feed, scores, stats, standings and more. If all you're interested in is scores and headlines, there is a free lite version.

Plusmo's Pro Basketball Scores needs to get rid of some bugs, though in fairness the latest update has made this a pretty stable app. The good news is that this free app brings you just about everything Pro Basketball Live does with a more pleasant look, and includes some social networking features.

Southeast Division

This division has plenty to offer basketball fans: Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, John Wall's rookie season and the perpetually up-and-coming Atlanta Hawks. But the biggest story of the Southeast Division, and the biggest story of the NBA, as a whole, is the Miami Heat.

You can follow the big three of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh with Heat Basketball, an app from the Miami Herald that provides access to the On the Heat blog and columnists such as Israel Gutierrez and Dan Le Batard, as well as stats and breaking news. It's free for 30 days, and then requires an in-app subscription purchase.

Speaking of Bosh, while he has the fewest number of All-Star appearances of the big three, he does have the only app in the group. Check out his self-titled free app for a Twitter feed, videos and various other things from the former Toronto Raptor.

Northwest Division

It has not been a great off-season for the Denver Nuggets, as the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors were much bigger news than the team's signing of Al Harrington. Worse yet, even if the team does manage to keep its star forward for the entire season, its days as this division's top teams might already be numbered, as the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder look to be on the rise.

Portland is not sure when former top pick Greg Oden will come back, but you can be the first to know with Rip City Project. The free app from the blog of the same name lacks stats, but it is updated daily, offers push alerts, and is a must download for fans of the Trail Blazers.

Kevin Durant's impressive performance in the 2010 FIBA World Championships has to have Oklahoma City supporters confident about the upcoming season. OKC Thunder Up will bring everything Thunder to your iPhone, including news, pictures and multiple social networking features, all for 99 cents.

Pacific Division

The 2009-10 season could not have been a better one for the Los Angeles Lakers. The franchise won its 17th NBA championship, and Kobe Bryant got one step closer to matching Michael Jordan's six titles.

Lakers fans can relive and replay the season with NBA Live by EA Sports, a $6.99 app version of the console series and the first full five-on-five game offered for iOS devices. Gamers can play a full 82-game season, and while the gameplay is more arcade than simulation it lives up to expectations.

There's a free lite version, as well. One more note, if you were hoping to wait for this year's version of NBA Live, EA has disbanded the series (it now produces NBA Elite, and has revived NBA Jam), and there is no news yet as to what – if any – plans there are for another basketball iOS game.

Southwest Division

While the NBA Development League is an afterthought in the minds of many basketball fans, it would be hard to argue it has not done it job. For evidence, look no further than the Southwest Division and two of its top point guards, Houston's Aaron Brook and Dallas' Jose Juan Barea, who both spent time in the league.

Anyone who is curious as to who the next D-League success will be, would be wise to get NBA D-League Center Court. It's similar to the NBA Game Time app in both appearance and the information it provides, including real-time stats and scores.

It lacks the audio options of Game Time, but the free app remains the most comprehensive source of information (at least in the app world) for the league and its players.