Tag Archives: Mark Cuban

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

The Losers of the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes

By: Evan

Dwight Howard won’t be able to foul James Harden anymore

Well, the dust has settled and a winner has emerged. Dwight Howard will sign with the Houston Rockets, giving the Rockets one of the best lineups in the NBA. For more about Houston’s potential with Dwight, read Jon’s article below. But what does it mean for the losers of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes?

Get him next time Dwight!

What it means for the Lakers: The Lakers practically begged Howard to stay, making various posters with the slogan #StayD12. Well it didn’t work, and Howard is headed for Houston. The Lakers will struggle and could land in the lottery — even with the great Kobe Bryant.  Losing for one year and adding a very talented rookie in next year’s stacked draft may be the best way for the Lakers to regain their elite status. The most talented teams in the West are young and fresh and the Lakers are as old as it gets.  The Lakers need to rebuild now.  While this will not go over well with Kobe Bryant and Laker fans, it is time to restart. But don’t worry Laker Nation, the Lakers will be back. Los Angeles is a marketable place, and free agents are lured by the lights and glamour only Los Angeles offers. Similar to the 2014 NBA Draft class, next year’s free agents are terrific, with superstars like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant as well as some great young restricted free agents including, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George.  And the Lakers will have enough room to sign at least two high profile free agents.  The Kobe Bryant era is ending, but the future remains bright for the Howard-less Lakers.

Andre Iguodala is headed to Golden State

What it means for the Warriors: The Warriors emerged as serious contenders for Dwight Howard, but came up short. The Warriors have a great, young nucleus and the potential to go far in the playoffs next year. The Warriors may have won by losing the Howard sweepstakes — they were going to need to trade some young players for Dwight, which would have been a considerable risk. The Warriors did get a nice consolation prize in Andre Iguodala, a versatile wing who can defend and rebound. The Warriors are on the rise,  and they have a tremendous post presence in the David Lee. Howard’s pass on Golden State is not a big deal to one of the most exciting teams in the NBA.

Could this be the end of the Mavericks?

What it means for the Mavericks: The Mavericks are in a similar predicament to the Lakers, an aging team with an aging star. Dirk Nowitzki is 35 years old and his team has no other stars around him. But the Mavericks have an active owner in Mark Cuban who is more than willing to spend money on free agents and will try to create a playoff team in Dirk’s last years. Texas has no state tax which was part of Mavs’ pitch to Dwight but ultimately their playing style was not a match for Howard. The Mavericks signed Jose Calderon, a talented but older point guard who is a great passer. The Mavericks are looking to sign another former Laker in Andrew Bynum, who has talent but degenerate knees that keep him from playing a complete season. Time is ticking on Dirk’s career and another championship run for the Mavericks is doubtful.

The Hawks need to rebuild in the post J-Smoove era

What it means for the Hawks: The Hawks were long shots to land Dwight Howard despite Howard’s hometown connections and relationships. The Hawks are completely rebuilding and looking to add young talent from the 2014 draft and free agents with the tons of cap space they will have available over the next few years. With Josh Smith gone and Jeff Teague looking to leave, Atlanta will be one of the worst teams in the NBA, and have a great chance at a top lottery selection. Hawks’ management did the smart thing and blew up their team, which was stuck in first round and out playoff scenario. Perhaps the Hawks will rebuild around a great draft pick and some free agents willing to join the effort.

 

 

 

 

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