After adding veterans Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyes in the offseason, the Spurs hope to have enough support for their Big 3 and make one last run at the NBA Championship.
San Antonio Spurs (Odds to win the division: 2/1)
Following a disappointing playoff run, The Spurs took some bold steps with the franchise and while they’re not using the term rebuild, they will admit to a serious “makeover.” San Antonio acquired three veteran players during the offseason knowing full well their window of opportunity to win another NBA championship is closing as Tim Duncan gets older.
By adding Richard Jefferson, Antono McDyess and Theo Ratliff, there is an infusion of quality veteran depth a sign that this time is built on winning now, not down the road. The pickup of those three players should help ease the burden on the likes of Duncan, Manu Ginoblli and Tony Parker but it’s ultimately going to fall on the Spurs' Big 3 to create enough offense.
First round exits are something the Spurs aren’t used to. The last time it happened was 2000 when Tim Duncan still had a lot of spring in his step. Now with the additional pieces in place, San Antonio expects to win it all. The usually humble Greg Popovich came right out and said he should be fired if they don't win it all, a true testament to how good of a roster this team has and how strongly pop feels about this year’s club.
Some NBA executives believe this team has everything they need and any other year they would be the clear-cut favorite. But sadly Spurs fans that’s not the case. San Antonio should repeat in the Southwest Division but that’s about it. Depending on how Duncan holds up I could foresee a Lakers/Spurs Western Conference final but that’s taking a real long shot.
Harvey’s take: San Antonio went 54-28 in winning the division. I expect a similar record and a second round playoff exit this season. But sorry, there will be no finals matchup with the Lakers.
Houston Rockets (10/1)
Houston’s season ended with a second round loss to the eventual world champion Lakers and Rockets fans I hope you enjoyed it because that’s as good as it’s gonna’ get for you in the foreseeable future. You my friends are staring at what promisies to be a long, cold winter where the victories will be scarce.
Yao Ming is out for the season with a leg injury. Ron Artest left as a free-agent to sign with Lakers and who knows what kind of contribution you’re going to get from the oft-injured Tracy McGrady. I’m sorry but Luis Scola, Trevor Ariza and Shane Battier are nice players but won’t make up for the losses of Yao and Artest. T-Mac remains the wild card.
Harvey’s Take: Last season the Rockets were 53-29 and beat Portland in the first-round of the playoffs. This year Houston will be lucky to go 41-41.
Dallas Mavericks (4/1)
Last season the Mavericks were sorely lacking in the depth department. So they spent this off season and more of Mark Cubans money, to pick up some quality back up players with good shooting skills to go along with a defensive edge. It sounds like they borrowed from the Spurs offseason playbook.
The Mavericks were an average defensive team a year ago so if you can’t stop them you better outscore them. With no reliable scorers other than Dirk Notwitzki and Jason Terry, Dallas added Shawn Marion as part of a four-team blockbuster deal. The Mavs other big off-season deal was to get Drew Gooden who is big and can score.
If it sounds like your reading the Spurs preview again, I can’t help it. Both of these teams are using the same plan which is build around your core players. In both cases It should translate into a 50-win season but no ring.
Harvey’s Take: Team Cuban was 50-32 last season and should finish with at least 50 victories this season. They’ll also flameout in the first or second round of the playoffs.
New Orleans Hornets (8/1)
Will Chris Paul and David West be enough to carry this Hornets squad onto the next level in the NBA? Paul has the star power, West has wicked game but both players ran out of gas during New Orleans embarrassing loss to Denver in the playoffs.
New Orleans did its fair share of wheeling and dealing. Tyson Chandler was sent to Charlotte for Emeka Okafor. The Hornets also saved money by offloading Rasual Butler and Antonio Daniels. Via the draft, they obtained UCLA’s Darren Collison to serve as Paul’s backup and picked up Marcus Thornton a potentially big scorer off the bench. Ike Diogu is another new face who will help in the scoring department but won’t help where this team will need the help the most and that’s in the “boardroom.” Pat Riley put it best, “No rebounds, no rings.”
Harvey’s Take: The Hornets went 49-33 last year and flamed out in the playoffs. If Chris Paul stays healthy the Bee’s should get 50 wins this season. However without a legitimate big man they will struggle again come post-season time.
Memphis Grizzlies (100/1)
Every division needs a floor mat and in the Southwest Division it’s the Grizzlies. As a lifelong Lakers fan, I’ll always feel a special bond with this team. It was the Grizzlies who gave us Pau Gasol in exchange for Kwame Brown. If it’s not the most lopsided trade in NBA history it’s right up there.
This year’s Grizzlies will be first team in the league to tank. Mark my words. By acquiring notable 'me first' guys like Allen Iverson and Zach Randolph during the offseason, this team has clinched the award for the team most likely to quit first this season. Good luck Grizzlies fan.
Harvey’s Take: A Gawd awful team. 24-58 last year and they’ll be no better this season.