I have been watching the Houston/LA series with some great interest. I think these are the two teams that we really have to worry about in the West for the next year or two. While Denver is playing extremely well, I don't know if I believe the Moonmen can keep it up when facing a solid defensive team.
I think Houston is giving LA a lot of problems due to two main factors. They are both defensive. First and foremost, they have a big shot blocker in the middle. Yao Ming and company have the Lakers front court playing very off balance. The second thing is they have two good defenders to throw at Kobe. Kobe is making crazy shots, but he won't be able to keep that up at a 60% clip. This John Hollinger article makes the same points.
This has gotten me wondering, how far away are the Spurs from being able to give the Lakers these same problems? (I think we already match up well with Houston) I know we've had some good conversation about what the Spurs need this off season. Lots of talk about Rasheed Wallace or a solid PF or Center that can help spread the floor and play better D than Bonner.
I will submit that there are two things we need to be a solid contender, at least in the Western Conference, for the next few years. A shot blocker / defensive rebounder. I don't know much about Gist, Mahinmi, Splitter and our other prospects, but if we can get a good shot blocker and rebounder out of them, I'm all for it. I like Kurt Thomas as our 3rd big man. I'm not sure you could do much better for a big man off the bench. If we have to get a free agent or trade to get a shot blocker, we should.
The second thing I think we may need is a new Bruce Bowen (aka a good SF). In a recent fan post I said that Bowen has still got it defensively and I think he does. That being said, do we have another guy we can throw at Kobe or LeBron? I don't see anybody. Udoka has some moments, but he's not as good as Bowen. Hill and Mason both had moments both are not up to par. I would love to grab a guy like Courtney Lee (Orlando), although he may be a bit small, to sure up our perimeter defense.
A little more offense wouldn't hurt, but I think the Dallas series showed that we need to tighten up the defense as a top priority. Houston is giving LA all they can handle and it's because of their team defense. The Spurs have the foundation, we just need to add some pieces to get back to the top.