Posts Tagged ‘nba western conference

28
Sep
09

Dallas Mavericks are going with plan B in ’09-’10

 

DallasMavericks 2

Mark Cuban and the Mavs brain-trust had an off season plan to improve through free agency. They had thoughts on signing more than one player to solidify play from their frontcourt alongside Dirk Nowitzki, which along with their annual problem of possessing one of the worst defenses in the league, is arguably their weak spot on the roster.

The Mavs decided to look for help since their 5 year incumbent at center, Eric Dampier’s numbers have dipped(5.7 ppg, 7.1 rebs, 1.2 blk), while his age continues to climb(33). Also while Dirk is still one of the most potent offensive players in the league, his age(31) will soon start catching up to him. He could use some help to help shoulder the load of carrying the team as he gets older.. They targeted Dwight Howard’s backup in Orlando, Marcin Gortat and were set resign PF Brandon Bass, who at age 23, many consider is ready to have a breakout season. Then the Orlando Magic came in under the radar and signed both players. “The Polish Hammer” would have given the team great size and could help the team transition away from the older and slower Dampier.

Cuban had to go to his backup plan and bring Drew Gooden and Tim Thomas into the fold. While the two are a bit shorter and a tad older, they now have a more versatile frontcourt with interchangeable parts, and thinking of the bottom line, a whole lot cheaper. Add “The Matrix” Shawn Marion, Nowitzki, and SF Josh Howard, and the Mavericks have terrific depth in the frontcourt. Questions surround Thomas’ recent injury while at home on how long it will keep him out of action.

I’m sure that Dallas will try to play small at times since the West does not have an abundance of talented big men. The Lakers have the talented but oft injured Andrew Bynum and the Blazers have the enigmatic Greg Oden, who last year still came off of the bench. Only the Spurs with Tim Duncan have a truly great center. Dallas’ flexibility is amazing since Gooden can at times defend the paint when Nowitzki plays the 5 to stretch the defense. Marion has proven to be more than capable scorer and rebounder at either forward spot and even Howard can play some 2 guard along with getting instant offense from Jason Terry. They can use Jason Kidd at the point or slide him to shooting guard when Jose Barea enters the game. Kidd can go back to the point when they need a backcourt defensive presence from Quinton Ross, off the bench.

The only downfall is that most of their best players are past the 30 years old age barrier. Although their talent goes 8-10 players deep, the rest of the bench is mostly dead weight and they lack any players heading towards the future. And even though Mark Cuban has plenty of money, the team as presently constructed in almost $20 over the cap. I’m sure Cuban is hoping that Rick Carlisle gets the most that he possibly can out of this roster next season.

It looks good for the Mavericks to extend their streak of 9 straight seasons of making the postseason, but have only one Finals appearance in that time. They have also won 50 or more games in those 9 years as well. Although on paper it doesn’t look like the Mavericks are true title contenders, remember that NBA Championships aren’t won in September. With a little luck, they might slide into the top 4 seeds out West, getting a home court advantage, win a few rounds, and challenge the Spurs, Lakers, or Trailblazers for another Western Conference crown, just like 2006.

Here is a link to a video of the Dallas Mavericks top plays last season:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WNnftFerrM

Dirk Nowitzki 1

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17
Aug
09

Is the Eastern Conference Stronger Than the West?

Garnett

Since the ’98-’99 season, the Western Conference has produced the eventual NBA Champion 8 times in 11 seasons. Only Detroit in ’04, Miami in ’06, and Boston in ’08 have won an NBA title from the East. In addition, the West has just been a deeper conference from #1 through #8 from teams making the playoffs. Case in point being Phoenix last season winning 46 games and missing postseason play where 46 wins would have been the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. Whether it was parity or good competition, the East’s final #5 through #12 seeds were constantly in flux right until the regular season finale, with the final 3 spots finishing with record of .500 or under. The West’s top seeds beat up on the bottom teams within the conference as evidence of their conference records and that the #10 – #15 teams all had winning percentages below 36%.

The ’09-’10 season should see a swing in power to the East. Through player movement in free agency, prime talent returning from injuries, or young nucleuses maturing, the East could have upwards of 6 teams winning 50+ games. Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Toronto, Atlanta, and Washington are all capable of reaching the 50 win plateau.

Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando should be legitimate title contenders through free agent acquisitions. Boston has now has the “Big 4″ for teams to contend with since adding Rasheed Wallace to the ’08 Championship trio of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen, along with budding star Rajon Rondo, who may challenge for an All-Star spot. Cleveland has added “Shaq Diesel“, “The Big Cactus”, or whatever O’Neal, the 7 foot, 4 time NBA Champion calls himself these days along with a slew of new supporting players to add to a team that won 66 games and had the best record in the league. Orlando chose addition by subtraction by choosing not to resign Hedo Turkoglu and bringing in Vince Carter, an 8 time All-Star from New Jersey, to a team that advanced all the way to the Finals last season.

The second tier teams in the East, Washington, Atlanta, and Toronto, have improved in different ways to almost certainly reach 50 wins as well. If healthy, the Wizards could vie for a #4 seed since they have made a decision to win now by trading their draft selections to Minnesota for a few good role players to compliment a talented trio of Jamison, Butler, and the oft injured Arenas. Toronto has two reasons for trying to improve in the standings. The Raptors have brought in Orlando Magic castoff Turkoglu and a few supporting players to try and move from mediocrity to contender and to persuade 2010 possible free agent Chris Bosh, to stay North of the border. Atlanta kept it’s young but talented nucleus intact for another run by resigning veteran Mike Bibby to be paired with newly re-upped Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson, and talented big men Josh Smith and Al Horford.

Miami, Philadelphia, and Chicago, while mired in mediocrity, have done little to this point to improve on their near .500 records and should be in the mix for the final two playoff spots with a noticeable dropoff with the rest of the East’s bottom tier teams.

Out West, only San Antonio and the LA Lakers are legitimate title contenders. The Lakers essentially return the same roster as last season’s championship squad with the exception of another adding by subtracting scenario. The Lakers allowed Trevor Ariza to defect to Houston while recruiting former Defensive Player of the Year, Ron Artest to Hollywood which is an obvious upgrade. San Antonio may now boast of having the deepest and most talented roster in the league by adding one of the NBA’s all around talents in Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess to future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, and explosive guards, Parker and Ginobili. The West’s top two have improved to a greater degree than the rest of the conference and should separate themselves accordingly.

Although other Western teams are good, they aren’t on par with the NBA’s top contenders or even some of the second tier teams of the East. Denver through experience and veteran leadership, and Portland with their plethora of future young stars will hopefully prove me wrong by season’s end. The Denver Nuggets proved they are close by advancing all the way to the Western Finals last season and will try to improve after adding depth to an already talented roster through the draft. Although Portland, who with the addition of floor general Andre Miller should take some of the pressure off of the underrated and newly extended, Brandon Roy, are probably still a year or two away but would like to improve on their 54 wins and #4 seed last year.

In my opinion, the teams out West will see a drop off in wins after the top 4 teams. In the lead for the #5 seed should be the Dallas Mavericks. By resigning their on-court leader in Jason Kidd and bringing in Shawn Marion and other sharpshooters to be paired with Nowitzki, Terry, and Howard, the Mavs should be again be a very potent offensive quad but even things out by not playing much defense. New Orleans, while having arguably the best point guard in the league in CP3, better scorers in Doug West, and now having one of the best defensive big men in Okafor, are hamstrung by finances and will be hard pressed to duplicate their 49 wins last season. The consistently good Utah Jazz may have a decrease in wins depending on where they will undoubtedly dump their talented but unhappy leading scorer, Carlos Boozer and who or what they get back for him.

Two of the annual playoff participants in past seasons, Houston and Phoenix, should experience a major decline in wins because of injuries and player defections through free agency. This could create a logjam for the final few playoff spots which is similar to what the East has experienced the past couple of years. Young and talented squads like Golden State, Oklahoma City, and even the LA Clippers may contend for a spot in the postseason.

For the first time in a long while, I look forward to this wide open NBA season since so many teams have improved and have a shot at the title, especially in the Eastern Conference. I just wish my 76ers could compete with the big boys. Well, as long as we beat the Knicks……..!

lebron

24
Jul
09

The Greatest NBA Champions Since 1980-#9 – ’05 Spurs

#9 – 2005 San Antonio Spurs

San-Antonio-Spurs-Logo--C10106609

With this season’s NBA Finals behind us, I decided to take a look back and rank the greatest NBA Championship teams in the modern era(post 1980). This will be a ten part series with a new entry each week. Which teams had the most dominating seasons and playoff runs in the last 30 years? How would they stack up against each other? Which teams had the most Hall of Fame players or coaches? The rankings were limited to two teams per franchise in the top ten. Let the debate begin.
 
 

 

Starting Lineup – Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, R. Nesterovic, Tony Parker
Reg Season Record – 59-23 Playoffs – 16-7 Finals – beat Pistons 4-3
Individual Awards – Tim Duncan – All NBA 1st Team, All Defensive 1st Team, Finals MVP Bruce Bowen – All NBA 2nd Team

Although the 04′-05′ NBA season’s most memorable moment will forever be the infamous brawl between the Pistons and Pacers, the Spurs ran through the NBA with the perfect mix of efficient offense and absolute shut down defense. In the regular season, the Spurs breezed through a tough Western Conference with a record of 59-23, finishing 2nd overall behind the NBA’s highest scoring team, the Phoenix Suns. San Antonio was led by future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan who averaged a workmanlike 20.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks. The coming of age of a pair of 2nd and 3rd year players named Ginobili(16ppg) and Parker(16.6ppg and 6.1apg), along with Duncan, and an experienced mix of veterans off the bench like Robert Horry, Brent Barry, and Glenn Robinson was the perfect mix to roll through the playoffs as well. The Spurs allowed only a stingy 88.4 points per game ranking 1st in many defensive categories. They held teams to under 70 points a record 8 times.

Led by defense, the Spurs rolled past the Nuggets (4-1), Sonics(4-2), and in a show of defensive intensity, dominated regular season MVP Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns(4-1) setting up a showdown between the previous two NBA Champions, Spurs(03′) and defending champion Pistons(04′). In terms of competitiveness, it was regarded by many as one of the best NBA Finals match-ups in recent history by going the full 7 games. The Spurs set a NBA Finals record by holding the Pistons to under 80 points in 3 of their 4 wins in the series. In Game 5, Robert Horry hit another of his patented game winning shots which shifted momentum towards San Antonio for good. The win gave Horry his 6th NBA title tying Jordan and Pippen. It was the third time that Tim Duncan won his 3rd Finals MVP.

The trio of Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker is still one of the best trios of players to win titles in recent history by winning another in 2007. This team is considered the best of a Spurs dynasty which would go on to win 4 titles over a 9 years span(99′, 03′, 05′, and 07′) and still challenge for more titles through 2010 and beyond.

Check out thehoopdoctors.com for the final selections

21
Jul
09

Why the Warriors Could Be a Sleeper Team in the West

Golden state warriors logoAllen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania.  He also writes for Hoopdoctors.com

Don’t look now, but a California based team who drafted one of the most exciting NCAA players in recent memory has aspirations of making the playoffs next season. No, it is not the LA Clippers, but possibly the youngest NBA team in terms of experience, the Golden State Warriors. Although the Warriors finished a dismal 29-53 and in 3rd place in the Pacific division, they did have a winning record at home. After a few on and off the court changes, they could be a team to make some noise in the 09′-10′ season.

Before the NBA draft, several moves were made to jump start this young and exciting team that seems stuck in mediocrity or worse for the last few seasons. Starting with the front office, former Warrior legend, Chris Mullen was left go as GM, and replaced by Larry Riley. The new GM quickly started altering the team by trading Jamal Crawford, a 19 ppg scorer to Atlanta for 3rd year point guard Acie Law, and 11 year veteran Speedy Claxton. Although this could be a cost cutting move, Law could become a valuable back up at the point since 2 years ago he was worth the #11 pick in the draft out of Texas A&M. The real coupe was drafting former Davidson sharpshooter, Stephon Curry, #7 overall in this year’s draft. While many scouts weren’t sure if he could handle playing the point in the pros, it is undeniable that the kid knows how to put the ball in the basket averaging over 28 ppg in his senior season. The new GM has so much confidence in Curry that he nixed a draft day trade to acquire the Sun’s Amare Stoudamire for Curry.

The young Warriors have been the talk of the Las Vegas Summer League with two players setting new scoring records with 2nd year players, Anthony Randolph scoring 42 points, then teammate Anthony Morrow racking up 47 in one game. The trio of Randolph(26.8), Curry(17.4), and Morrow(10.1) has been impressive this Summer playing against other NBA newcomers.

That trio is surrounded by a few underrated veterans, namely leading scorer Stephan Jackson, who has found a home with the Warriors, averaged 20.2 points, 6.5 assists, and 5 rebounds. Jackson, a 9 year veteran just needs to learn to control his emotions. Corey Maggette, who hasn’t quite lived up to the hype of being the #13th pick out of Duke 10 years ago, is a steady 16-18 ppg scorer when healthy. Maggette, who had off-season wrist surgery should be ready by August 1st to resume basketball activities. Kelenna Azubuike, a 3rd year player from Kentucky has steadily increased his numbers in each year to 14.4 ppg last season.

The true diamond in the rough may be former 2nd round pick in 05′, point guard Monta Ellis. The 4 year pro, signed a 6 year, $66 million dollar contract in 08′ after averaging 20.2 points. Last season he averaged 19 points in only 25 games because of a 30 game suspension and injuries sustained from a moped accident. On the defensive front, Ronny Turiaf led the team with 2.1 blocks.

There’s no denying the Warriors are on the right track as far as scoring the basketball but the real test for Hall of Fame Coach Don Nelson will be defense. The upstart Warriors ranked among the leagues worst in defensive categories among NBA teams last season. They may need another veteran player to direct all of their young talent as evidence of their decent record at home and horrendous 8-33 on the road.

Even in a tough Western Conference, “Nellie” just might be the perfect architect to motivate these young Warriors to play a little defense and sneak into the 2010 playoffs.

 

 




About the Author:

Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen also writes for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, and UpperDeckblog.com.

Favorite teams include everything Philly, like Sixers, Eagles, Phillies, Villanova , St. Joe's , Hoops, LaSalle, and Lehigh University Hoops.

Contact info: mollallen@yahoo.com

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