After all the teams and divisions we tackled it leads to the final five and the last division which is the South West division. The Texas triumvirate Dallas, San Antonio and Houston with the resilient New Orleans Hornets and the struggling Memphis Grizzlies will have to battle it out for supremacy in this division with only the Grizzlies failing to go to the playoffs last season this is a competitive division. Honestly San Antonio had a good run at the end of the season but eliminated by Dallas on their initial playoff series. Let’s try to look at each team and see their progress as the season is looming.
SOUTH WEST DIVISION
Dallas Mavericks (50-32)
New Acquisitions: Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai, Shawn Marion, Quinton Ross and Tim Thomas
Rookies: Rodrigue Beaubois 1st round (25th pick) and Ahmad Nivins 2nd round (26th pick)
With all the Nowitzki’s ex-fiancee’s fiasco the Mark Cuban’s issues with legal fees on SEC the Dallas Mavericks is still much the same core that got them 50 wins last season. Jason Kidd got a new contract and the Mavericks still have Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jason Terry and signing Shawn Marion gives them the flexibility on offense and defensive side. Kidd maybe 36 years old and a foot slower against faster point guards but still his passing and knowledge of the game makes him a valuable component to the Mavericks championship run. With 8 new players on a 17-man roster cohesiveness won’t be a factor if the Mavericks are playing an 8-man rotation will see more running with the Mavs and a step higher on their previous season outing.
Houston Rockets (53-29)
New Acquisitions: Trevor Ariza and David Andersen
Rookies: Chase Budinger 2nd round (14th pick), Sergio Llull 2nd round (4th pick) and Jermaine Taylor 2nd round (2nd pick)
When everybody thought that the Houston Rockets would never get past the first round they trounce the Portland Blazers in only 6 games and when Yao Ming got injured on their conference semifinals with the Lakers they extend the series all the way up to game 7. We can never discount the Houston Rockets and their resiliency. This coming season the Rockets lost their star center Yao Ming to injury and with Tracy Mcgrady not yet a 100 percent they will have to deal with a much better lineup and a bigger adversity. Their newest addition Trevor Ariza can immediately help the Rockets but the question would be to what extent? Let’s face it Trevor strives more in a system like the triangle offense I don’t know what coach Adelman will do to squeeze it out on Ariza. Shannen Brown, Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza became good players because they are good role players nobody knows Ariza while he was still wearing an Orlando Magic uniform. David Andersen who was drafted in 2002 will be debuting this season a good post up player who rebounds the ball well. It was sad to see Chase Budinger slid down all the way to the second round. I do believe in his talent with his high level IQ for the game. Will the Rockets duplicate their amazing record last season? I don’t think so but I’m not discounting the possibility.
Memphis Grizzlies (24-58)
New Acquisitions: Steven Hunter
Rookies: Hasheem Thabeet 1st round (2nd pick), Sam Young 2nd round (6th pick) and Trey Gilder
We don’t expect the Memphis Grizzlies to be a playoff contender team next season they don’t have that veteran experience and they are very raw that’s why they opt to draft Hasheem Thabeet as their pick and wish he will fully develop to his full potential in years to come. Thabeet at 7-foot-3 can block shots and can give the Grizzlies the defensive presence in the post. But what puzzles me is why in the hell did the Grizzlies put up a roster with 4 seven footers and 4 other forwards who stands nearly seven feet. It looks like they are building skyscrapers instead of a basketball team. Rudy Gay and second year guard OJ Mayo will be the Grizzlies focal point on offense. It would take years before we see another Grizzlies team in the playoffs certainly this is not the year for them.
New Orleans Hornets (49-33)
New Acquisitions: Emeka Okafor and Ike Diogu
Rookies: Darren Collison 1st round (21st pick) and Marcus Thornton 2nd round (13th pick)
Chris Paul has produced MVP numbers with consistency and you will just have to wonder why the Hornets got a beating from the hands of the Denver Nuggets in their first round playoff duel. When Peja Stojakovich’s shots are not falling and when David West is on a slump it’s only Chris Paul producing in short Paul needs help. Byron Scott’s coaching job is in trouble and there are talks about him getting fired everything is a mess and then came Emeka Okafor the silver lining amidst all the troubles. The 6-foot-10 center gives the Hornets the easy pass to the playoffs a consistent double-double player who is also a good passer but most of all a reliable defender in the post who will team up with David West to form a solid Hornets frontcourt. Darren Collison is a good pickup for New Orleans as a solid backup for Chris Paul. This would be another Paul’s MVP year and a breakout season for Okafor. Hornets fans are in for a good treat.
San Antonio Spurs (54-28)
New Acquisitions: Richard Jefferson, Antonio Mcdyess, Marcus Haislip and Theo Ratliff
Rookies: DeJuan Blair 2nd round (7th pick), Jack Mclinton 2nd round (21st pick) and Nando De Colo 2nd round (23rd pick)
Last season the Spurs paraded as one of the oldest roster team in the NBA. It looks like we’ve seen the last of Duncan and Parker’s championship parades with the team’s owner refusing to upgrade and sign big name players to their roster especially on Duncan’s gigantic payroll. But this summer the Spurs had a breath of life when they choose to be aggressive in the market trading Fabricio Oberto and Bruce Bowen to get Richard Jefferson from the Bucks then signing up reliable veterans Antonio Mcdyess and defensive center Theo Ratliff the Spurs are now in a different league with all the new faces and a much better upgrade. There won’t be any embarrassing first round exits for the Spurs this season and they could go all the way to the conference finals if healthy. Manu Ginobili is back with Tony Parker and Richard Jefferson the Spurs have develop to be a pretty good backcourt team not to mention Tim Duncan who is still a force in the middle. Sometimes risks pay off everything and the Spurs are slowly harvesting the fruits of their labor.