#bleusporrts #defendingchamps #toughestdivision
The NBA champion San Antonio Spurs were an anomaly last season. They won 62 games last season, and not one person on the team averaged more than 30 minutes. Every player chipped in last season, and their depth was the reason the Spurs did not look like the oldest in the NBA.
Kawhi Leonard won the NBA finals MVP last season, and became a star. Danny Green’s sharp shooting prowess makes him a force to be reckoned with. Theses two young players will be the men who will guide the Spurs in the future once Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili retire.
However, Tim is still on the squad and still has something left in his tank. With him down low, and frontcourt mate Tiago Splitter in the paint as well. The Spurs have a team that can control the interior. The only weakness they seem to have is their lack of quickness on the perimeter when Tony Parker and Marco Belinelli are on the floor together. Therefore, look for Green and Leonard to play more minutes this season and shoulder most of the load.
The Rockets had bad luck in the offseason. They tried to land Chris Bosh in free agency and were unsuccessful. They traded Jeremy Lin, and Center Omar Asik in order to clear cap space, and lost some depth because of it. Moreover, their perimeter assassin Chandler Parsons signed with the rival Mavericks.
They still have super star James Harden and Dwight Howard, and that tandem will get them victories. However, in order to compete in the Western Conference your going to need depth, and the Rockets don’t have it.
In addition, the only person who likes to play defense on the Rockets is Patrick Beverly. They gave up 103.1 PPG last season, and if they can’t cut that figure down it will be a long season for the Rockets.
Tough as nails describes this bunch of overachievers. The Grizzlies are as fun to watch as an episode of “Duck Dynasty”. However, they get wins, and they play within their skill set. Power forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol are bruisers in the interior, and force penetrators to think twice before bringing any weak stuff in the paint.
The problem every year with the Grizzlies is their lack of three point shooting, and offensive firepower off the bench. Vince Carter has been added to alleviate some of those issues with three point shooting. However, will he be able to stay on the floor? And at his age how much does he have left in the tank?
Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler and Jameer Nelson are the new key additions on the Dallas Mavericks. Parsons is a great shooter, and should help Monte Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki shoulder the burden on offense. Nelson is a former all-star and is more than capable of running the offense. Chandler is back where he won a championship in 2010, and should be reinvigorated after wasting three years in New York.
The problem with the Mavericks this season will be on the defensive side of the ball. Nowitzki is a bit slower than he used to be. Parsons is not known for his tenacious defense, and Ellis and Nelson are susceptible to post up play. They have to figure out a way to play effective defensive and get stops if they are going to be successful in this division.
Everyone’s eyes will be on the Pelicans and their budding super star Anthony Davis this season. Davis has all the tools to be the most dominant big man in the NBA. He shined brightly during Team USA’s world cup championship run, and will be an uncontrollable beast down low this season.
The Pelicans won’t make the playoff this season but will give teams all they can handle. The addition of big man Omar Asik gives the Pelicans a front line that will be able to protect the rim and the paint. If their guard play improves and Jrue Holiday can stay on the floor, the Pelicans will be an exciting team to watch.
2014 NBA Southwest Division Prediction
1- San Antonio Spurs- 58-24
2- Dallas Mavericks- 50-32
3- Memphis Grizzlies- 48-34
4- Houston Rockets- 46-36
5- New Orleans Pelicans- 38-44