Hello there, Texas basketball fans! Ready to explore all that our state’s three excellent NBA teams have to offer as we begin the 2015-16 regular season this week? I thought so.
Depending upon which reports and analysis you prefer, there are three primary story lines swirling around a busy off-season:
- The Houston Rockets have lots of upside and are a sneaky insider pick to succeed in the West;
- There is a good chance the Dallas Mavericks don’t make the playoffs this year; and
- The San Antonio Spurs need to balance its aging stars with its rising ones.
Let’s get into it!
This team’s chances can be boiled down to two players: Wes Matthews and DeAndre Jordan. The first guy’s situation is a bit simpler – he just needs to return to form in 2015-16 after losing most of last season to a rupture in Achilles tendon. Because when Matthews is on form, he’s one of the top 5 shooters in the league, and a 37-year-old Dirk Nowitzki needs him to take over some of the big crunch-time shooting responsibilities.
The DeAndre Jordan situation is much more complicated, mostly because he plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. You see, one of the biggest stories of the recent NBA off-season was the kerfuffle over whether or not Jordan would leave the Clippers to sign with the Mavericks. Long story short, after giving the Mavs a verbal agreement, he backed out a week later to resign with the Clips. This hurts the Mavs because they need a functional big man to anchor their offense, and when they didn’t get Jordan, they didn’t have anyone decent to replace him. Check out these three fun articles to learn more about the shenanigans.
My Prediction: The Mavericks struggle to reach .500 and miss the playoffs.
This team could be really fun to watch for a few reasons: James Harden is a wizard on offense, Ty Lawson gives the Rockets a much-needed third option on offense, and Daryl Morey is always on the prowl for the next missing link in his quest for an NBA Championship.
But the team can get ugly in a hurry when you least expect it. Harden and Lawson have just similar enough styles of play, so they’ll need to learn how to share time, the ball, and space on the floor. And neither guy has classic defensive chops. Also If Dwight Howard isn’t healthy, the team’s options at center aren’t great – and if Kevin McHale goes extra small ball with Donatas Motiejunas at the 5 in this situation, the team’s defense could suffer further.
Nevertheless, the Rockets are a deep team that will score, score often, and run the floor with absolute abandon. They will give slower teams fits and should be able to keep up with the other top teams with relative ease.
My Prediction: The Rockets get close to 60 wins and give the Warriors a run for their money in the uber-competitive West.
This could become a tale of two teams very quickly, but I trust Coach / Time Management Savant / Amazing Interviewee Gregg Popovich to navigate any lineups hiccups with the greatest of ease.
It’s no secret that the trifecta of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili were the driving forces behind the nearly 15 years of dynastic success the Spurs organization has experienced. Duncan is one of the Top Ten players of all time, and all three should be Hall of Famers at some point, but they’re aging – with both Parker and Ginobili slowing down rapidly over the past 2 years.
Thankfully for Spurs fans, R.C. Buford remains in control of the team’s present and future, putting his formidable General Manager skills to good use in signing LaMarcus Aldridge in the offseason. Together with Kawhi Leonard (the understated superstar-in-waiting who needs to step into Duncan’s shoes) and superb two-way player that is Danny Green, this team will continue to grow, develop, and morph as the forefront of NBA evolution.
But still, even with all those plaudits, figuring out how to make sense of those playing styles and age limitations can take time, so I wouldn’t plan on the Spurs to storm out of the gate. It could easily take the first half of the season for the squad to coalesce into a postseason force.
My Prediction: The Spurs clear 50 wins and make the playoffs, but battle early chemistry concerns.