Monday, 10 September 2012

Western Conference - A Breakdown of NBA Teams before the 2013 season

Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks, an already aging team, lost Tyson Chandler at the start of the 2012 season.  Now, at the beginning of the 2013 season, they face it without Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, their two best guards.  It will be interesting to see who they pick up throughout the course of the season.  The departure of Kidd gives room for French guard Beaubois but it will be a big ask for him to carry on in the same path.  Dirk will lead the team as usual, but the question is how far?

Houston Rockets
Now that the Rockets have Jeremy Lin its certain they will win an NBA championship….if only.  But in all seriousness, with the addition of Lin the Rockets should improve, even if it is only a small improvement.  Jeremy Lin is far from a finished product.  He was the 12th man on the bench for half of the year in New York.  The Rockets have been some-what irrelevant since Yao Ming retired, it will be interesting to see what this season holds for them. 
"Linsanity" captured the basketball world for a few weeks last season

Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are a young team who can ball!  Knocking out the first seeded Spurs in 2011 and pushing the Clippers to 7 games in the 2012 playoffs.  Rudy Gay is an extremely underrated player and Zach Randolph, has somewhat silenced his critics who were calling him overpaid with his play in the last two seasons, especially during the playoffs.  The small guard Conley has also come up big throughout the course of the playoffs.  Marc Gasol, Randolph and Rudy Gay should carry most of the load throughout the season.  I look for them to finish between 5-8 in the Western Conference.

New Orleans Hornets
The loss of Chris Paul was quite a sting to the hornets (sorry, couldn't help it), however,  drafting Anthony 'monobrow' Davis and Austin Rivers, two young players with a lot of potential means that the franchises future looks promosing.  In addition, they also have players in the form of Robin Lopez, who they acquires shortly after losing Chris Kaman, and current 6th man of the year Ryan Anderson.  The Hornets are far from what they once were, but they're heading in the right direction.

San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have been 'old' for a good few years now, and to be honest, it means nothing; they've finished top of the Western Conference for the last two years!  Sure they did get knocked out of the 2011 playoffs in unusual fashion but I think that was more to do with an overly energetic Memphis team than a slouchy Spurs one.  The two time coach of the year in Gregg Popovich knows what he's doing and so do Parker, Ginobli and Duncan!

Denver Nuggets
Now with the acquisition of Andre Iguodala the Nuggets are one of the fastest teams in the NBA!   Many have felt that they weren't a serious team as they had no 'star' player but this soon changed as they pushed the Lakers to 7 games in the 2012 playoffs.  In the last season they led the NBA in fast break points and one can only assume they can keep up this level of play.  Iguodala also brings something else to the table, something Denver have struggled with for a long time, defence!  In addition the chemistry that Iguodala has had with Andre Miller should contribute to Denver's success.  Wilson Chandler was missing for the entirety of the last season through playing abroad and injury and it will be interesting to see how he will contribute to The Nuggets this year.  Ty Lawson improved greatly last season and with the continued improvement of young players such as McGee, Faried and Danilo Gallinari the Nuggets should be an exciting team to watch. (Can you tell I'm a Nuggets fan yet?)

"Iggy" posing for the camera

Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves are in the 'regrouping' stages.  Last season the addition of Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio was meant to get them going in the right direction.  Un fortunately his season was cut short due to injury.  Kevin Love continued to shine for them, howeover, nothing more can be said.  This season they have added players in the form of Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilekno (who played last season abroad) and Brandon Roy (who is back from retirement).  Hopefully the Timberwolves can improve on last season.  I would look for them to finish around 10th in the Western conference.

Portland Trailblazers
The Trailblazers are a solid team even without Brandon Roy.  Young players such as J.J Hickson provide energy off the bench and the dominant big man in the form of LaMarcus Aldridge should provide guidance for the team.  The Blazers bench is quite depleted and they should look to improve this throughout the course of the season.

Oklahoma City Thunder
After losing in the 2012 NBA Finals the young Oklahoma Team has had time to regroup and recharge their batteries.  Durant, Harden and Westbrook all played during the summer at the Olympics as part of the Team USA basketball team and Ibaka played as part of the Spanish team.  There's no denying that the Thunder are a young team, but they're also a young team who can play ball!  Durant has a chance to lead the NBA in scoring the for fourth year in a row, Ibaka is a monster of a defender and Westbrook is a very athletic point guard.  One can hope that Westbrook will become a smarter point guard who will make better decisions on the court.  The Thunder won't give up their title of Western Conference champs without a fight and it will be interesting to see how big of a 'fight' it will be.

Utah Jazz
The Jazz have shown that they can play without Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer.  They're far from a championship team but they play well as a unit.  Paul Millsap & Al Jefferson are reliable power forwards who knows how to play the game of basketball and can also give some guidance to the younger Derrick Favours.  The addition of Mo Williams should provide depth off the bench and athletic players such as Jeremy Evans (winner of the 2012 dunk contest) adds speed to this team.

Golden State Warriors
Despite the loss of their leading scorer Monta Ellis, the Warriors are still a solid team.  Injuries haunted their last season with players such as Stephen Curry constantly tweaking their ankles.  The acquisition of Andrew Bogut should provide dominance down low along with David Lee and Andris Beidrinš.  The Warriors bench is quite thin and needs improving.  There are some questions surrounding the coaching of Mark Jackson.  Many feel that he should return to being a commentator and shouting "HAND DOWN, MAN DOWN" rather than telling his team to foul Dwight Howard.

Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers proved last season that they were a force in L.A. and they should continue their play this season.  Chauncey Billups season was cut short last year and it will be interesting to see what he can bring to the team now that he's healthy again.  With the acquisition of veteran Grant Hill and former 6th men of the year Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford this Clippers team is not only a young one, but is also very deep and experienced.  The veterans should provide some mental guidance for the younger players such as DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin as well as guard Eric Bledsoe.  Whether this team is of championship quality or not is up for debate, but one thing is for sure; they'll be exciting to watch!

Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are certainly a different team with the addition of all-stars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.  I covered what effect this will have on the Lakers in an earlier post which you can read HERE.

Phoenix Suns
The sun is setting in Phoenix due to the loss of Steve Nash (sorry), however it gives them a chance to re-group and add some other pieces around the current players.  Its not easy losing your starting point guard, especially when its Steve Nash.  The suns missed out on the playoffs last year and without Nash I doubt they will improve.  Re-grouping is a long process and one which takes years to complete however, the future is bright for the Suns. (pun not intened)

Sacremento Kings
The Kings, after many rumours of moving, are finally settled in Sacramento which is a positive.  Despite their low finish last year the future is very bright for this team.  DeMarcus Cousins had a very solid year and should continue his play.  Tyreke Evans must stay healthy and have a season similar to that of his rookie year in order to move this team forward.  Isiah Thomas has also proved that he's a worth point guard and with players such as John Salmons, Jason Thompson, Aaron Brooks, Travis Outlaw and Jimmer Fredette (remember him) around him this group of queens should start playing like kings eventually.

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