Wednesday, October 25, 2006

NBA Preview 2006-2007: Southwest Division

Click for each preview:
Atlantic
Central
Southeast
Southwest
Northwest
Pacific
Awards and Playoffs

Each team is scored on a 1-10 scale based on its projected starting lineup, bench, head coach and general manager. The maximum score possible is 80.

Overall scores, brief summaries and franchise outlooks will predict how a team performs this upcoming season.

A final preview article will predict regular-season awards, playoff results and the eventual NBA champion.


Dallas Mavericks

C: DeSagana Diop (7.5)
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (10)
SF: Josh Howard (8)
SG: Jerry Stackhouse (8)
PG: Jason Terry (9)
Bench: Devin Harris, Greg Buckner, Devean George, Erick Dampier, Maurice Ager, Austin Croshere, Anthony Johnson, Darius Washington (9)
Coach: Avery Johnson (9)
GM: Donnie Nelson (9.5)
Overall: 70
Summary: An outstanding franchise from top to bottom. Dirk's emerging inside game makes him the most difficult match-up in the league. Terry and Harris are a terrific duo handling the ball. Diop is a solid defender and Howard is coming into his own. Ager and Washington are talented enough to contribute this year.
Outlook: Cuban should and will expect nothing less than a ring.


Houston Rockets
C: Yao Ming (10)
PF: Juwan Howard (7)
SF: Tracy McGrady (10)
SG: Bonzi Wells (8)
PG: Rafer Alston (7.5)
Bench: Shane Battier, Luther Head, Dikembe Mutombo, Steve Novak, Casey Jacobsen (8)
Coach: Jeff Van Gundy (7.5)
GM: Carroll Dawson (8.5)
Overall: 66.5
Summary: Ming and McGrady are the West's most dangerous duo -- when healthy. Wells was an excellent pickup who can do a bit of everything. Battier is the type of relentless player that is essential for a winning club. Head proved last season that he can flat-out shoot. Novak has received stellar reviews since the draft and may supplant Alston.
Outlook: Can all the pieces finally come together and live up to expectations?


Memphis Grizzlies
C: Stromile Swift (7.5)
PF: Pau Gasol (9)
SF: Mike Miller (8)
SG: Eddie Jones (7)
PG: Damon Stoudamire (7)
Bench: Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick, Dahntay Jones, Chucky Atkins, Kyle Lowry (6.5)
Coach: Mike Fratello (7.5)
GM: Jerry West (9.5)
Overall: 62
Summary: Gasol missing the early portion of the season may have doomed Memphis' playoff hopes already. On the bright side there's more minutes for Gay, who may be the league's Next Big Thing. Swift has to prove he deserves to stay on the floor for extended periods of time. The backcourt is not particularly quick and it's getting old fast.
Outlook: Fratello, barring a minor miracle, will be out of work after the season.


New Orleans Hornets
C: Tyson Chandler (8)
PF: David West (8)
SF: Peja Stojakovic (8.5)
SG: Desmond Mason (7.5)
PG: Chris Paul (9)
Bench: Bobby Jackson, Rasual Butler, Cedric Simmons, Hilton Armstrong (6)
Coach: Byron Scott (8)
GM: Jeff Bower (7)
Overall: 62
Summary: Can Paul prove last year wasn't a fluke? He has a greater shooter to pass to in Peja, and West has emerged as a legit big man. There will be less distractions on the team this season, but the talent level may have regressed. Chandler is good, but not great. Mason hasn't played well in a NOOCH uniform. The bench is either always injured (Jackson) or young (Simmons, Armstrong).
Outlook: Following the feel-good story last season, the Hornets fall back to reality.

San Antonio Spurs
C: Francisco Elson (6)
PF: Tim Duncan (10)
SF: Bruce Bowen (8)
SG: Manu Ginobli (9.5)
PG: Tony Parker (9.5)
Bench: Michael Finley, Robert Horry, Brent Barry, Jackie Butler, Jacque Vaughn, Matt Bonner, Francisco Oberto (8.5)
Coach: Gregg Popovich (10)
GM: RC Buford (9.5)
Overall: 71
Summary: Whoever starts at center won’t be very good. That might be a mute point, considering the rest of the team is so awesome. Either Duncan, Ginobli or Parker can dominate on any given night. Bowen is an elite defender who also drains jumpers in the corners. The bench has playmakers and great chemistry. Popovich is as masterful at motivating and playcalling as any coach in recent memory.
Outlook: The Spurs will look to make it two banners in three years.

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