30 Thoughts On the NBA Season pt. 2 (Western Conference)

In honor of the NBA returning, TSX will put thoughts on all 30 NBA teams and how they may fare this season. These thoughts are all rhetorical, so feel free to express your thoughts as well.

TSX will now take a look at the Western Conference:

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks:The Mavericks have all the tools, Kidd, Nowitzki, Howard, even added Shawn Marion into the fold along with Jason Terry. (can’t forget him) The problem is that this team never does what it takes to get them to the top. They can really get a huge player by trading Erick Dampier, who has $12M against the cap, and 2010-11 salary of $13M is NOT guaranteed. If Dallas can use this wisely, they could get a final piece to the puzzle to get them far in the playoffs

Houston Rockets: With Yao out for the season, and Ron Artest moving to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers, the Rockets shored up Artest’s defensive prowess by signing Trevor Ariza away from the Lakers. If Tracy McGrady can play a complete season, this team could be somewhat decent. However, without Yao Ming, this team is going to be looking at fourth place in the tough Southwest Division

Memphis Grizzlies: Look at this team on paper- nice mix of young guys and veteran players, you get a marquee name in Allen Iverson, a big man for the future in Hasheem Thabeet, two good wing scorers in Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo, and a good tough guy in Marc Gasol. Reliable and consistent player in Zach Randolph. Look at this roster down the board, they have the tools to make a run. Realistically, this is not going to work. AI will want the ball to be the scorer, and he’s not gonna be happy sharing minutes with Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph are both egomaniacs. They think about themselves. O.J. Mayo can shoot, but can’t drive unless he’s open for a dunk. Thabeet’s a rookie, all around, this looks like a major train wreck.

New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets get a huge addition with Emeka Okafor, but the main issue with the Hornets is their health. Injuries ravaged this team last season, and they were nowhere near the team that was dominating two years ago. Chris Paul should have another MVP season, and Okafor can possibly reach his potential that he never reached in Charlotte. The only downside is that so far Okafor has not really spent time with his new teammates, which he has really had all summer and all of training camp. That could hinder team chemistry, especially if he’s going to be a big part of the Hornets’ offense. If the Hornets can stay healthy and build chemistry with Okafor, things will be alright in the Crescent City.

San Antonio Spurs: This team is loaded again with veterans, and are still the resident “retirement home of the NBA”, but they do have some youth at power forward, with DeJuan Blair being picked from Pittsburgh. They added Richard Jefferson via trade, and these two key additions should take the load off of Tim Duncan. However, Duncan is the pulse of the Spurs, and if he’s healthy, he can go a long way. If he’s hurt, then the Spurs are in trouble.

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets went under a revival upon the arrival of Chauncey Billups where they ended up going to the Western Conference Finals, but Billups is wearing down. At the age of 33 and appearing in seven straight conference finals (going late in the season), his body is wearing down quick. Luckily the Nuggets picked Ty Lawson in the draft, and he will be one great backup to Billups with his explosiveness and quick first step. If Nene, Kenyon Martin, and Chris Andersen stay healthy and consistent, this team can repeat their success, they will have to find a way to get by the Lakers though.

Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves have been a mess since the trade of Kevin Garnett to Boston (well the downfall started in the final days of the McHale/Garnett era), the team went through its worst season, and now with a new general manager in David Kahn, and a new head coach in Kurt Rambis, the Wolves are looking to go on the upswing. Note that this team will not be contending anytime, soon, but if they want to spend the money, they can definitely do that. Will it land a big name in 2010? Most likely not, but they can have some kind of wheel and deal on trades for expiring contracts due to the enormous cap room they have. (Something they haven’t had in years). No Ricky Rubio for two years, but they have a young lineup. Al Jefferson, Kevin Love (when he gets back from his injury), Ryan Gomes, and Jonny Flynn, and Ramon Sessions. Do not expect anything from Minnesota, as they begin to look up after hitting rock bottom last year.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Loaded with talent, are these Oklahoma City Thunder, but don’t expect these guys to win the Northwest Division or even make the playoffs for that matters. Kevin Durant is the star of the team, and he will take the majority of the shots, but he does have a pretty solid scorer in James Harden, obtained in the NBA Draft. Harden will form a decent backcourt with Russell Westbrook, but aside from the front court, and Durant, there isn’t really a solid option at center, and Jeff Green is not a natural power forward. This, along with the fact that the team is still young, means that they won’t make any progress at least for this year. The good thing is that GM Sam Presti knows this and is still patient.

Portland Trail Blazers: Portland finally broke into the playoffs and they will go deeper. The core is in tact, and adding a dependable point guard in Andre Miller means that this team is even better. Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and even better play from Greg Oden means that this team will be even more dominating than a year ago. If there is one team that can knock the Lakers off in the West, it is definitely Portland. Do not sleep on them

Utah Jazz: This team can really turn it on, but when it was widely assumed that Carlos Boozer would leave Utah, he never opted out his contract, which showed that he did want to stay in Utah (or that there was nobody out there willing to pay his price tag). The good news is that this situation will only last a year, and then Boozer is gone, and the Knicks gave up their first round pick (unprotected, so if the Knicks won the lottery, it would go straight to Utah). If the Jazz can play defense and show more passion than last year, they can go far in the playoffs.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors: This team is a mess. Don Nelson does want to be there, Stephen Jackson doesn’t want to be there, Monta Ellis is not the same player since the moped incident. Stephen Curry will have to adjust to the speed of the Warriors; these guys play no defense, although they are very fun to watch, and the only defense they get is from Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf. This organization is in a need of an overhaul, Cohen, Mullin and Nelson all need to go, and let someone who care about the organization change the culture and keep it consistent.

Los Angeles Clippers: With the news that Blake Griffin is down with a broken kneecap and is out for the next six weeks, but lets talk about this team pre-injury. The Clippers got the best player in the draft, and he has the comparative upside to a David Robinson. When The Admiral arrived in San Antonio in 1989, the Spurs were at their lowest point in franchise history, but they turned it around and in 10 years, they won a championship. Now, not saying the Clippers will win anything (as long as penny-pinching Donald Sterling is the owner), but the Clippers will be competitive. A huge plus was getting rid of Zach Randolph, who’s ego was a cancer to this team. With Davis and Eric Gordon in the backcourt, and a decent front court in Griffin, Camby, and Marcus Thornton, there can be enough shots to be distributed. The Clippers will improve, and will be competitive for the next few years.

Los Angeles Lakers: After 65 wins and a 15th NBA Championship, the Lakers will defend their crown Tuesday night against their cross-arena rivals, the Clippers. This team is ravaged by injuries, and the questions of if newcomer Ron Artest will get along with Kobe Bryant. After their confrontations and trashtalking last year, it will be interesting to see how Artest will mesh with the Lakers. When Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom get through their injuries, expect this team to dominate and be the best in the West. They say to be the best, you have to beat the best, and the Lakers are the best. When Artest gets adjusted to the triangle offense, it’s going to make this team even better down the road.

Phoenix Suns: The Suns were a highlight reel in recent years under Mike D’Antoni. They were flashy, they ran, and most importantly they scored. Steve Nash was the leader of the show, and in the past year and a half, they had the big Shaqtus. Now Nash is in the twilight of his career, and the Suns aren’t one of the marquee teams. They still have Amare Stoudemire, and Leandro Barbosa, but with a new/old style under Alvin Gentry, the Suns can go back to what they did, it just won’t be the same. The Suns missed the playoffs for the first time since 2004. With their old style back, they should make the playoffs again, but won’t do much damage when they get there.

Sacramento Kings: Paul Westphal is back as head coach of a team that has gone through coaches like a revolving door. Westphal is the fifth coach in five years for the Kings, who have been in a rebuilding period. The Kings drafted Tyreke Evans in the first round, who has been impressive in the preseason and should for a good backcourt with Kevin Martin. The optimism is high, but reality is that this team still has ways to go before getting back to where they were in the early part of this decade.

Enjoy the previews, and we will discuss more basketball after tonight.

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