Tag Archives: Manu Ginobili

Western Conference Southwest Division Preview

By: Evan

The Southwest division will be one of the most intriguing divisions in the NBA with the potential for three different teams to win the division. The San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies all have talented teams that made significant runs in the playoffs last season and will look to make even deeper runs this season. The most significant change for the Rockets is the addition of Dwight Howard, who signed a four year $88 million dollar deal with the potential opt-out after year two. With a core of James Harden, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons, the Rockets are looking to win a title.  But they need to best the Spurs and Grizzlies, two experienced teams with elite players like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.  It should be an exciting season, now let’s look at some predictions. *Denotes playoff team

1.) *Houston Rockets

The Rockets have a formidable starting lineup, one that can shoot and score inside.                    Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Dwight Howard is a tremendous addition to an already talented Rockets starting lineup, providing a low post presence that will take some pressure off of James Harden and Chandler Parsons on the perimeter. The main issue for the Rockets will be establishing a pace as last year they averaged 106 points per game, good for second in the league, but D12 likes to body his defender in the post and slow the game down. If Kevin McHale can set the tone and find a balance, the Rockets will be tough to beat.  Another key will be Jeremy Lin’s growth from last season as the media world focused on him and his play regressed from his days in New York. If he can eliminate some turnovers and improve his 34% 3-PT shooting, the Rockets will have a scoring threat from almost every position. As Jon mentioned before, James Harden has seized the opportunity to lead a franchise as he posted a ridiculous stat line of 26 ppg 5.8 rpg and 4.9 apg, all career highs. Look for him to better his assist numbers as well as efficiency since Dwight Howard will draw some double-teams in the post. This team is dangerous and when they make the playoffs, they have a shot at knocking off the Heat.

2.) *San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich were one rebound away from a fifth NBA championship.                                                                                                               Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

The only reason why the Spurs are not the top team in this division is their age.  Popovich likes to rest his older players during meaningless regular season games, which lowers their seeding.  After the disappointment of losing in the Finals last year, it will be tough for the Spurs to get back as so many other teams improved.  Last year might have been the last chance for this current Spurs’ core to win a championship, but that has been said for a few years now, and the Spurs have continued to excel.  This year the plan will be similar for Pop — give Kawhi Leonard more of Tim’s minutes and hope Tony and Manu stay healthy.   It will be interesting to see the growth of Kawhi Leonard, a player who was considered a role player, now being called on to take the reigns from one of the greatest big men of all-time, TIm Duncan.  Kawhi has emerged as a tremendous two way player with terrific athleticism, defensive intensity and an underrated 3-PT shot. The other player to watch is Tony Parker, who made a solid case for MVP last season, putting up 20.3 ppg 7.8 apg and shooting an insane 52% from the field. If he can replicate his play then Houston and San Antonio could switch spots come May. For Spurs’ fans, its all about the playoffs.  If the Spurs stay healthy, they might have another run left in them.

3.) *Memphis Grizzlies

Can Gasol and Z-Bo lead the Grizz to a title?                                                               Courtesy of Grantland.com

The Grizzlies are another interesting team that had a shot at the NBA finals last year when the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook was injured.  The Grizzlies needed an elite 3PT shooter last year so they added Mike Miller, a stud shooter who is prone to injury and is also a liability defensively. I don’t think he is enough to make the Grizzlies true contenders to represent the West in the Finals.  But now let’s look at the positives, they have Z-Bo and Gasol, two elite post players who compliment each other’s game very well as both are good passers and can make a 15 foot jumpshot. They also have Tony Allen, probably the best perimeter defender in all of basketball, but he can’t score, making him a non-entity on the offensive side of the ball.  The other player worth noting is Mike Conley Jr, a solid point guard who played well last season, but was eventually overwhelmed by the elite point guard play of Tony Parker in the Western Conference Finals. This Memphis team might need to make a mid-season trade for a perimeter scorer if they have any hopes of making a long run in the West. The Grizzlies are good but not good enough to be a top four seed.

4.) *New Orleans Pelicans

This core of Pelicans should give the Big Easy something to be excited about.                                                                          Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

The newly named Pelicans are young, and a sleeper team.  The team has a terrific young core with Jrue Holiday 23, Eric Gordon 24, Tyreke Evans 24, Ryan Anderson 25 and Anthony Davis 20.  New Orleans’ biggest move was trading away next year’s first round pick to Philly for Jrue Holiday, a surprising move for some as the first round pick in 2014 could be a star, but New Orleans opted for a proven All-Star in Jrue Holiday. NOLA also signed Tyreke Evans, who was in a dreadful situation in Sacramento and although he has regressed since his standout rookie season, with more shooters and playmakers, he should be able to find more ways to score. The key will be Eric Gordon, an oft injured shooting guard who has past history of being a 20 point scorer and could improve the Pelicans’ playoff hopes if he stays healthy. The other integral member of this squad is last year’s #1 overall pick Anthony Davis, who was the most efficient rookie last year with a PER of 21.86 good for 15th in the entire NBA. He is a menace on the defensive side and his offensive game has clearly improved since his Kentucky season and Davis could be an All-star. The main problem with this team is the lack of girth up front as Davis isn’t your ideal big man with size and strength.   Davis is more finesse and quickness than power.  If  NOLA  trades one of their shooters like Ryan Anderson for a defensive big man, the Pelicans would have a solid team at all positions. The Pelicans should improve greatly from last season, and develop nicely as these young, talented players mesh well.

5.) Dallas Mavericks

Should the Mavs trade Dirk? Courtesy of ESPN

The Dallas Mavericks have gone from NBA champions in 2011 to the edge of irrelevance in 2013-2014. Most of this is due to the missed opportunities in free agency including the Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Now the Mavericks have constructed a team with Dirk at the helm and Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis as secondary players, a team that will be lackluster defensively to say the least. Mark Cuban won’t settle for medicority and that is why I posed the question, should the Mavs trade Dirk? The team publicly has said they want Dirk to retire a Maverick but if a borderline-championship team offers valuable picks for an aging veteran, the Mavs would be unwise to pass on the opportunity.    Dallas is not a serious contender, and they are in a rebuilding mode whether they know or accept the fact.   If this is Dirk’s last season as a Maverick, he will probably land with a contender by Christmas, and Dallas will look to get some new talent in the stacked 2014 draft.

Stats from ESPN

Top NBA Free Agent’s Destination

By: Jonathan, THE Brooklyn Nets Fan

15. JR Smith – New York Knicks

JR Smith
JR Smith

After a break out regular season where JR Smith scored a career high, 18.1 PPG, he experienced a nightmare post-season. His horrendous post-season probably cost him millions of dollars. The Knicks cannot afford to let him go as their offense cannot thrive without another scorer besides Carmelo. After he opts-out of his current deal for $ 2.9 million, the Knicks will probably sign him to a deal ranging from $5-7 million a year.

The Nets would not have much interest in Smith as they already have Joe Johnson and Deron Williams who frequently shoot the ball.

14. JJ Redick – Oklahoma City Thunder

JJ Redick
JJ Redick

After a solid season with the Magic and Bucks where he scored a career high, 14.1 PPG, his shooting and scoring skills will be in high demand. As seen in the NBA Finals, every champion needs a reliable shooter that can stretch the defense and spread the floor. If Kevin Martin leaves the Thunder, Oklahoma City will need another scorer who can spread the floor for Durant and Westbrook.

The Nets should not have interest in Redick. Although they need shooting, he will probably be out of their price range.

13. Jose Calderon – Detroit Pistons

Jose Calderon
Jose Calderon

The veteran Spanish point guard has many different options this offseason. After another consistent season, Jose will be in high demand. I believe that Jose will return to Detroit because he has a lot to add to the team. The pass first point guard will drastically improve the game of big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. He can also teach young point guard Brandon Knight how to be an effective player.

The Nets have no interest in Jose Calderon. They have Deron Williams who played like the best point guard in the league after the All Star break.

12. OJ Mayo – Minnesota Timberwolves

OJ Mayo
OJ Mayo

The former Dallas Mavericks shooting guard has hit free agency for the second time in his young career. After signing a one-year deal with the Mavericks last offseason, he should be looking to cash in on a multi-year deal. The talented 25 year-old shooting guard had a comeback season. He will probably wind up with Timberwolves who would be able to boast a strong starting five (Rubio, Mayo, Williams/2013 pick, Love, and Pekovic). He can provide some valuable scoring to a team that can become stagnate at times.

The Nets should make a run at OJ Mayo this offseason. If he could be had at a discounted price, he would be a valuable 6th man playing at SG or SF.

11. Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs

Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili

The two time All-Star will either re-sign with the team that drafted him or retire this up coming offseason. After a forgettable finals, Manu will not make anywhere near the $14 million he made this year with the team. If he is willing to take less money, the Spurs will be able to possibly sign another valuable player who could lead them to the finals once again.

The Nets have no chance of signing Manu nor do I want him. He is a washed up star who has played a year too long.

10. Tyreke Evans – Utah Jazz

Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans

After winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2010, Tyreke’s production has steadily declined. Although a restricted free-agent, Tyreke will be leaving the Kings “toxic” organization. Evans has never been able to show off his true ability because of the constant fluctuation of the Sacramento Kings. With the Jazz, he will be able to grow with the young nucleus of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors and under the veteran tutelage of Mo Williams.

Evans would be useless with the Nets as the already have Johnson and Williams.

9. David West – Indiana Pacers

David West
David West

After an impressive playoff appearance, David West will be in high demand during the NBA offseason. After pushing the Miami Heat to a seventh game of the ECF without their best offensive playmaker, Danny Granger, the Indiana Pacers have a legitimate chance of knocking off the Heat next year. Indiana was able to expose the Heat with their physical play. This is why the Pacers MUST re-sign David West if they want any chance of upsetting the Heat. He can provide physically along with consistent rebounding and scoring.

The Nets would love to have a player like David West. The Nets have a desperate need at the power forward with the struggling Kris Humphries and the offensively challenged Reggie Evans. He can be like Reggie Evans except with the ability to put the ball in the basket.

8. Paul Millsap – San Antonio Spurs

Paul Millsap
Paul Millsap

Similar to David West, Paul Millsap is an undervalued, undersized power forward for the Utah Jazz. After being beaten by Miami down low repeatedly without Tim Duncan on the floor, San Antonio must reevaluate their power forward position. Millsap can be a great find for the Spurs as he would provided added toughness, rebounding, and scoring.

The Nets would love to have a player like Paul Millsap. Although there were rumors about him during the trade deadline, the trade never went through. He can be like Reggie Evans except with the ability to put the ball in the basket.

7. Brandon Jennings – Milwaukee Bucks

Brandon Jennings
Brandon Jennings

The Bucks cannot allow the extremely talented 23 year-old Jennings walk without gaining something in return. Luckily, he is a restricted free agent so they will have the power to match any offer. Unless the Mavs or Hawks swoop in and offer Jennings the max, I believe he will return with Milwaukee. If the problem arises again, they can always trade him during the trade deadline. Since it looks like Monta Ellis will not be returning, the Bucks must make it a priority to re-sign Jennings.

The Nets have no need for the inconsistent Jennings with Williams on the team.

6. Andre Iguodala – Denver Nuggets

Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala will almost certainly re-sign with the Denver Nuggets this offseason. Although he opted out of his deal, there is mutual interest between both sides so a deal will probably be complete. Iguodala is a perfect fit for the team as he is extremely versatile and allows them to play small and fast with his great defensive ability.

The Nets believed they had someone like Iguodala when they traded for Gerald Wallace. However, they have been badly mistaken.

5. Al Jefferson – Atlanta Hawks

Al Jefferson
Al Jefferson

With Josh Smith most likely leaving this offseason, the Hawks will have a need for a big man to complement Al Horford down low. Big Al will allow Horford to return to his natural power forward position and could create a lethal combination of size. The Hawks will have more than enough money this offseason and hope they can make a splash, like Jefferson, Howard, or Paul.

If the Nets had Big Al they would become extremely dangerous down low as him and Lopez could average 40 and 17 nightly.

4. Andrew Bynum – Charlotte Bobcats

Andrew Bynum
Andrew Bynum

Probably the most interesting free agent we have had in a number of years, Andrew Bynum has the potential to be an extreme steal or bust. When playing, he is a walking 20 and 10 who could be considered the best big man in the game. The Bobcats will have money to spend this offseason. Since they cannot attract big name free agent routinely, they should gamble on Bynum this offseason. If it is a success, he can possibly lead them to their first post-season win in franchise history.

The Nets had their chance of having Bynum, but did not want to Kidd for him.

3. Josh Smith – Dallas Mavericks

Josh Smith
Josh Smith

This offseason the Mavericks plan on making a huge splash in free agency. With millions in cap room, they have the possibility of landing two big free agents. Although Josh does not deserve a max contract, he will definitely be paid handsomely in the range of $12-15 million per year. If the Mavericks want to make a lot of noise, they can sign Smith and offer Jennings a max offer in attempt to pair them with Dirk. The Mavericks need to make the playoffs next year after the poor showing this past year.

The Nets attempted to trade for him this deadline. He could be incredibly useful for the Nets who need massive amounts of help on power forward and talent.

2. Dwight Howard – Houston Rockets

Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard

Hopefully the “Dwightmare” will finally end this offseason. For the past three years different teams, such as my Nets, have tried to lure the talented big man onto their team. (Magic made huge mistake not trading to Nets. Instead of having Aaron Affalo, they could be pairing vucevic and lopez down low, more salary cap relief, and more future first round picks). This past season Dwight hit rock bottom as the Lakers barely made the playoffs and he was constantly scutinized for his play and attitude. By going to Houston, he will be able to escape the media pressure of Tinseltown without losing too much money. Since Texas has no income tax, their standard of living is a lot less than LA, Dwight Howard would probably opt-out of the last year of his deal, the money issue is a non-factor. Howard will have his best chance at winning in Houston because of their young nucleus. The Lakers are a bad fit for Howard: bad coach, aging team, little room for improvement, and he does not like being in the spotlight. With James Harden, Chandler Parsons, and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets can form a solid inside out style.

The Nets have almost no chance of getting Dwight Howard. Although many people hope that there is still a way we can do a sign and trade, the chance are slim to none. At least we have lopez who can average 20 and 7 nightly.

1. Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul
Chris Paul

The best player this offseason as well as the best point guard in the league will remain in the City of Angels with the Clip. With the addition of Doc Rivers, the Clippers now have a legitimate leader of men who can bring the best out of his stars. Along with Blake Griffin and a solid bench, the Clippers have the possibility to reach the Conference Finals and maybe even the Finals, with Spurs getting old and a recovering Westbrook. Unless Paul can find a way to join with Howard in either Atlanta, Houston, or Dallas, his best destination is Los Angeles where he can with a budding star and a top level coach.