On NBA.com, there is an online poll in which fans can vote on which NBA team they project will win the Southwest Division this coming season.
To little surprise, the San Antonio Spurs, who have been the best team in the Western Conference in the regular season for two straight years, are a heavy favorite. Here are the numbers.
San Antonio Spurs (64%), Memphis Grizzlies (13%), Dallas Mavericks (9%), New Orleans Hornets (7%), Houston Rockets (6%).
It’s hard to argue with those projections. First, the Spurs, who won 50 games in a lockout season and finished with the best record in the West not only brought everyone back outside of James Anderson from last season, but the team that had three individual 10 plus game winning streaks also added just one new face, French guard Nando De Colo.
Out West, aside from the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Spurs are almost a lock to finish in the top three of the Western Conference and especially win their division.
The Grizzlies probably should finish second in the S.W. Division because even though they lost O.J. Mayo, they added guard Jerryd Bayless and re-signed Darrell Arthur (who should be healthy) and Marresse Speights. Even if they don’t trade Rudy Gay this coming season due to the mixed hidden issue of ball possession between he, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies are still bringing back a squad that finished fourth in the West last season and much of their players have already established their roles within the team.
The Mavericks look like an entirely new team, only the players they brought in are older or middle tier guys. There’s no star power outside of Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks brought in a younger Darren Collison to replace Jason Kidd who fled to New York, they still have the corpse of Vince Carter in a mummy tomb, but they did add the explosive scorer Mayo. They also added passed-their-prime big men Elton Brand and Chris Kaman, while also picking up four rookies to add a youth injection into their team. French guard Rodrigue Beaubois is still there, Delonte West was re-singed and Dominique Jones will be healthy. I think their biggest loss will be if they don’t re-sign Brian Cardinal. I’m just kidding, that’s a joke. The Mavericks will be competitive, but nowhere near the level of the Spurs in the Southwest.
The Hornets added some stellar draft picks while also some role players who could have an impact. Their first big move was drafting big man Anthony Davis and guard Austin Rivers. They then re-signed a healthy Eric Gordon, while acquiring shooting big man Ryan Anderson, the big man with the most hair in Robin Lopez, and Hakim Warrick. The Hornets have a good looking team, I think they’ll finish right outside of the eighth playoff spot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were at battle with the Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Mavericks for those last two playoff spots.
And lastly, the forward-heavy Houston Rockets. Right now, the Rockets have 12 forwards/centers on roster. Some of the young rookies they drafted have the potential to develop into solid players, but releasing their best power forward in Luis Scola may be a move that keeps them from winning no more than 25 games this coming season.
Sure, they brought “Linsanity” to the team in signing Jeremy Lin, they still have the akward shooting Kevin Martin, and sophomore Chandler Parsons will develop more of his game. Patrick Patterson can play the power forward while they also added Omer Asik from the Chicao Bulls. There’s an abundance of younger players as well now for Rockets that include Royce White, Terrence Jones, and Jeremy Lamb.
When it comes to All-Star voting, I don’t always agree with the fans picks. But in the case of making this Southwest division projection, it’s hard not to right now.