The NBA Season kicks off tomorrow night and while there are a ton of storylines to be followed this season, the one of most importance to everybody here is how the Dallas Mavericks season turns out. Throughout the day, I will be posing division previews for the Western Conference while assessing the Mavericks competition out West.
We kick things off by taking a look at the Mavericks own division- The Southwest Division.
Added-Trevor Ariza, Marco Belinelli, Jerryd Bayless.
Lost- Darren Collison, James Posey, Devin Brown, Morris Peterson
The Hornets did their best to try and convince Paul to stay this off-season by bringing in Trevor Ariza in a 3-way trade that sent Darren Collison to the Indiana Pacers. Great news for all Mavericks fans. Chris Paul will leave New Orleans. The Hornets traded away their best asset for the future for Trevor Ariza. They panicked. The Pacers pounced and now the Hornets will be stuck in the lottery for many years to come. Trevor Ariza had decent year for the Rockets last year. However, he benefited greatly by having the offense run through him after Yao's injury. He nearly doubled his shot attempts from his previous year, going from 7.3 attempts with the Lakers to 13.9 with the Rockets. The Hornets are leaning on a Paul/Ariza/West core to try and get Paul to stay and it just won't work.
And after all that, the Hornets trade for Jerryd Bayless over the weekend. While Bayless may not be as good as Collison he will give them a solid building block when Paul bolts.
Added- Acie Law, Tony Allen, Xavier Henry
The Grizzlies number one priority this off-season was re-signing Rudy guy. They accomplished it, but paid a heavy price. Rudy Gay received a max contract from the Grizzlies in a move that had me questioning if anything was real in this world. Don't get me wrong, Gay is a nice player. He's just not worth max money. They'll be regretting that contract soon enough. Their quest to find a point guard ended futilely with the acquisition of former Aggie great Acie Law. Along with Mike Conley, Law will try and address the point guard position for the Grizzlies. One of the bright spots for the Grizzlies last season was Marc Gasol. He quietly established himself as a top center and should provide them with quality production going forward. That said, they're still looking at a 10th seed at most in a very competitive Western Conference.
Added- Courtney Lee, Brad Miller, Patrick Patterson.
Lost- Trevor Ariza, Hilton Armstrong, Joey Dorsey.
The Rockets may be the most interesting team in the league this year. They made and attempt to lure Bosh and failed. However, they made one of the best trades last year by acquiring Reggie Miller lite in Kevin Martin. Martin is one of the best pure scorers in the league and should provide the Rockets with ample scoring in his first full year there. Of course, the key to the Rockets fortunes lie in the health of Yao Ming's left foot. Yao should be ready for the start of the season but with a man of his size, you just never know how things will heal. If Yao is healthy and Martin fits in seamlessly with the Rockets, like I think he will.... Look out. This team can definitely sneak in to the 7th or 8th seed and give the Lakers a huge scare in the first round.
Added- Tiago Splitter
Lost- Theo Ratliff
The Spurs seem to be on the brink of faltering every year, but yet the keep plunging along and winning. The big question is what will happen with Tony Parker? Rumors keep swirling about a possible Parker trade and the Spurs have been grooming George Hill for the position for the last few years. I think he plays this season out. Richard Jefferson shocked the world by opting out of his contract but eventually came to his senses and re-signed with the Spurs. Sounds a little fishy. Of course, the big factor in the Spurs success late in the season last year was Manu Ginobili. If healthy, Ginobili is one the most difficult opponents to guard in the game and brings a dynamic to the Spurs that makes them extremely difficult to defend. One new face the Mavericks will have to get acquainted to will be Tiago Splitter. The Brazilian import's contract was finally purchased by the Spurs this year and his presence should be felt immediately.
Added: Tyson Chandler, Dominique Jones, Ian Mahinmi.
Lost: Erick Dampier, Eduardo Najera.
The Mavericks should win this division. In order for them to take the next step and be considered legitimate contenders in the Western Conference, Rodrique Beaubois must fulfill his potential. Beaubois will be handed the starting shooting guard spot once he comes back from injury and much of the Mavericks improvement this year will be dependent on his development. The Mavericks traded Erick Dampiers' much maligned contract to the Charlotte Bobcats for Tyson Chandler this off-season. While this was not the sexy move many Mavs fans had hoped for, it certainly gives the Mavericks the best center rotation they've had in their history. Chandler looks to be healthy again and has preformed well in the pre-season. It's going to be interesting to see how the tandem with Haywood works out. Haywood, who signed a 6 year 55 million dollar contract this summer, is assured to start. But it would not surprise me if Chandler takes over the starting duties sometime this season. Dominique Jones' playing time will undoubtedly vary this season and we will probably get a few more doses of JJ Barea than we would like. Kidd will be looking for more opportunities to rest this season as he broke down at the end of last years campaign. And finally Caron Butler will look to build on his rocky start with the Mavericks and provide them with a legitimate second scoring option behind Dirk Nowitzki. Having said all of this, the Mavericks are still one player away for challenging for an NBA title. Luckily, the Mavericks still have the assets to make a trade this February. Chandler's expiring contract along with Butler's expiring contract and Rodrigue Beaubois will make for a compelling offer if an opportunity presence itself.