We have arrived out west and this season the conference is in for a wild ride. If you have missed any of the Eastern Conference previews. Be sure to check them out here. http://www.ratpacksports.com/nba.
Dallas Mavericks: Can we think of a better team for Dennis Smith Jr. to be drafted by? Well look no further, then the up-tempo Mavericks. This is the perfect fit for a nineteen-year-old with incredible athletic ability to learn on a team he will get enough minutes to blossom into a star player down the road this guy could be the next Russell Westbrook. The Mavericks will spoil someone’s playoff chances with some gutsy performances, Wesley Matthews is not worth his salary, Sign Nerlens Noel, Harrison Barnes will continue to average over 20 points per game and Smith will flash moments of brilliance. All leading to a record of 25-57 and Dirk riding off into the sunset.
Memphis Grizzlies: The dynamic duo of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol can only get you so far. This will be the theme of the season for the Grizzlies. Outside of these two players the talent is bare and will be exposed. Signing Chandler Parsons has backfired and now has clogged their cap space on a player that nobody wants and won’t get better anytime soon. Memphis won’t sniff the playoffs and have no direction despite signing Ben McLemore to a nice contract he should finally get the minutes to prove that he is better than getting buried on Sacramento’s bench. With a record of 29-53 this will be a long year for Conley and Gasol in their primes.
New Orleans Pelicans: No team in the league has more to lose than Cleveland and New Orleans this season. After only a half a season with DeMarcus Cousins wasn’t enough time for him and Anthony Davis to get used to playing with each other. Signing Rajon Rondo to a one-year deal the Pelicans are going all-in to make the playoffs with pencil thin depth and no wing help to speak of. Davis and Cousins will dominate most nights, True Holiday will struggle at the point until they panic and realize he should be the shooting guard, Solomon Hill’s injury will be crucial, not being able to move Omer Asik’s bad contract will be a challenge. Portland’s Damian Lillard will get the Blazers into the playoffs as the #8 seed leaving New Orleans in ruins. Forcing a trade of Cousins and Asik to Cleveland for Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and the Brooklyn pick at the trade deadline. New Orleans will to go 38-44 and another year closer of Davis leaving the big easy.
Houston Rockets: After one of the most demoralizing losses in playoff history, the Rockets have changed their roster by executing a huge trade for Chris Paul from the Clippers. This massive deal has caused Houston’s depth to take a major hit to bring in a star who is like James Harden’s skill set. After failing to obtain Carmelo Anthony, with the Knicks not interested in Ryan Anderson’s services Houston looks thin after this star duo. With the likes of Lou Williams and Patrick Beverly gone, this team will need to relay on Eric Gordon even more coming off the bench to help offset these losses. Look for the Rockets offense to still be good, Clint Capela can’t afford to get hurt for a long stretch of the season, the Chris Paul and James Harden gamble will work out. Leading to a record of 54-28 the fourth seed in the West and just shy of a division title.
San Antonio: How much merit does the argument has that Kawai Leonard single handily could have taken Golden State to seven games in last season’s Western Conference Finals? Answer lot! Without Kawai the Spurs looked like a team playing four games in five nights vs a rested Warriors team that ran them out of the gym. With nobody wanting the contract of LaMarcus Aldridge in the off-season, somehow not re-signing Jonathan Simmons who was one of the few players that could be on the floor vs the Warriors goes to Orlando. Only to make up for it by signing Rudy Gay at this stage in his career is a mistake the Spurs will regret. This shows that the Spurs are not in the same league as the Warriors to get to the finals no matter how good Head Coach Gregg Popovich is and how well Dejounte Murray will improve. The Spurs are still good enough for a 56-26 record edging out Houston for the division title getting them the third seed in the west and losing a closely contested series vs Oklahoma City in the second round of the playoffs.