Alright, we all know the Spurs have done some nice work this off season to improve the roster. I know that we are all thinking or rings and 'ships, but before all that shouldn't we go ahead and win the division? With that in mind I'm going to run down the moves of all the teams in the great Southwest Division and give some opinions.
The Standings from the end of last year:
Team % Overall Streak Home Streak Away Streak
|1||San Antonio Spurs||65.9||54-28||won 4||28-13||won 2||26-15||won 3|
|2||Houston Rockets||64.6||53-29||lost 1||33-8||won 6||20-21||lost 1|
|3||Dallas Mavericks||61.0||50-32||won 2||32-9||won 6||18-23||lost 2|
|4||New Orleans Hornets||59.8||49-33||lost 2||28-13||won 1||21-20||lost 3|
|5||Memphis Grizzlies||29.3||24-58||won 1||16-25||won 2||8-33||lost 3|
Dallas Mavericks. They finished 3rd in the division last year. Of course they knocked the Spurs off in the first round and then got punked, literally, by Denver. They have had the foresight to re-sign Jason Kidd, an aging PG who can no longer play defense against anybody that could be classified as "quick". They traded to get Shawn Marion, a nice player who's on the downside of his career. They sign Drew Gooden, because he somehow impressed them in the playoffs last year. They did draft a nice rookie PG, at least he was nice in the Summer League. They lose Bass and miss out on Gortat and so remain very thin on the interior.
IMO: They are better than last year. They lose only one good player in Bass and add a couple of players that are better than what they had. I'm not sure how it's going to work out for them. I don't like the resigning of Kidd, but then again I didn't like the trade for him. How much better would this team be with Devin Harris as PG? They could have gotten Andre Miller, who is a younger version of Kidd and would fit the style of this team is made to run. The Mavs are clearly going to be the 2nd best team in the division.
New Orleans Hornets. This team is the victim of a poor FO and a bad economy. They have really only made one move and it seems fairly lateral. They pick up Emeka Okafor for Tyson Chandler. I'm not sure why either team would make this move outside of some financial reason I don't understand or one or both of them had worn out their welcome in the locker room.
IMO: This team is going to need to get better without any big off season moves. It is possible. They had some injuries last year and they still have some talent. Chris Paul, David West and the rest of the crew still have some skill. The question becomes can they over come their coach and sometimes questionable attitude to be a contender? The NOOCH will be 3rd in the Southwest.
Houston Rockets. It has been a really tough off season for the Rockets. They lose Yao Ming for the playoffs last year and for this year and possibly forever. There have been better off seasons for sure. They lose Ron Artest to LA, but pick up a very nice player in Trevor Ariza. This is probably a small step back in the short term. Ariza has a higher ceiling than Artest at this point. Tracy McGrady is still in limbo. He isn't due back until sometime in February and the Rockets might not want him even when he is ready.
IMO: The Rockets are going to have a rough year. They might be good enough to sneak into the playoffs, but it doesn't look real likely. Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola and Ariza are going to be counted for all the scoring for this team and none of them are big scorers. The defense will still be there to some degree, but it's going to be hard for this team to score. Houston might miss the playoffs, but they have the chance to be one of the last two seeds. I'm saying they finish 4th in the division.
Memphis Grizzlies. Did they do anything worth noting? I haven't heard them giving up their best player for a song. They've got some talent on that team, but the problem is not much. Rudy Gay is a nice player, Marc Gasol is a nice big man and O.J. Mayo can score. Perhaps the worst move in the SW division is the Grizz picking up Zach Randolph. That guy is a cancer.
IMO: The Grizzlies are not good. They have a couple of talented players, but it won't be enough to get out of the basement of the division. Memphis will have to enjoy their college basketball, which has taken a hit. If Memphis was smart they go higher some former SA front office guy, but there's only so many of those guys running around.
San Antonio Spurs. The denfending champ of the division will probably take it again. We all know the Spurs are vastly improved. They now have 4 solid scorers who will be difficult to defend. Manu Ginobili is coming back and will be healthy. Tony Parker is only getting better. The injection of youth/less old has Spurs fans every where stoked. The only questions that this team have are Tim Duncan's knees and will the defense be back?
IMO: The Spurs will walk away with the division. Timmeh will have a good year, but he'll still get plenty of rest. Pop will have to find a way to get this team to play the classic Spurs defense and I think they will. If this team melds together well they are going to be very very difficult for anybody to stop. It should be a good season for Spurs fans.