Yeah haw! Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana is home to the Southwest teams that I’m reviewing this time, for the first time. So lets “Root, Toot and Boot scoot our way to the future for these basketball predictions y’all.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Starting Five: Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Derrick Favors
Key Bench: JJ Redick, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Jaxson Hayes, E’Twaun Moore
Coach: Alvin Gentry
Wholesale changes from last years roster due to a trade, free agency and some draft lottery luck, with the only returning star being Jrue Holiday. Talking Jrue, I can see a very big season in store for him, MVP? For this to happen the Pelicans (still crap nickname), have to overachieve and I think this could be the case for two reasons. The first is obvious, Zion will come into the NBA like a bull in a china shop and surprise a lot of players by how hard he plays. The second is that the young guys from the lakers will play like they have a chip on their collective shoulders. Playing with some purpose can’t be underestimated. So I think New Orleans with end up:
3rd in the Southwest with a 42/40 win/loss record.
Starting Five: Delon Wright, Luka Doncic, Justin Jackson, Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell
Key Bench: Tim Hardaway Jr, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber.
Coach: Rick Carlisle
The torch was passed last season from the retiring Dirk to rookie of the year Luka. Luka looked the real deal and joining him, to give it a FIBA feel is Kristaps. Dallas is near the start of their rise and are building, maybe knocking on the door to the playoffs. It is hard to see who their third best player is at the moment which might hold them back from any real success but that is the easiest shoes to fill. Exciting team that needs depth means that I think they will finish:
4th in the Southwest with a 37/45 win/loss record.
Starting Five: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Eric Gordon, P.J.Tucker, Clint Capela
Key Bench: Danuel House Jr, Tyson Chandler, Austin Rivers.
Coach: Mike D’Antoni
Well, Daryl Morey isn’t afraid to be bold, ( Adam Silver may have a different view 🙂 by trading Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook in the off-season. With the rockets being legit title contenders and Harden in his prime they really have to swing for the fences, this worked out for Toronto last year so go for it I say. Talk of Paul and Harden not getting along may have been part of this particular trades beginnings but when the situation presented to get Westbrook, they jumped. I could be convinced of another earlier than usual playoff exit but instead I think this is going to be a happy reunion for old Thunder buddies to rue missed opportunities and to try to rectify them. Back in Oklahoma they were both sidekicks to Durant but now Harden is running the show and Westbrook is probably over doing everything for his team so ideal time for ultimate success. Playoff success may hinge on style (Mike’s last go around?), but regular season record will be good, to end up being:
1st in the Southwest with a 55/27 win/loss record.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Starting Five: Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jakob Poeltl
Key Bench: Derrick White, Patty Mills, Rudy Gay
Coach: Greg Popovitch
San Antonio, the team every reporter wants to count out in these season projections but which they repeatedly get wrong. A workmanlike team with the attitude of next man up has held them in good stead over the years, a very military approach. This is the brain child of coach Pop, he seems to quickly move on from players who don’t fall in line to the system. The talent looks underwhelming again but as usual this team will win games they shouldn’t and not throw too many games away. Dejounte returning after last year looking like it was going to be a breakout for him helps and Patty showing a big heart in the World Cup lets you know the quality they have on the bench. This team will overachieve again ending at:
2nd in the Southwest with a 44/38 win/loss record.
Starting Five: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr, Jonas Valanciunas
Key Bench: Tyus Jones, Brandon Clarke, Grayson Allen
Coach: Taylor Jenkins
Another exciting young team with top end talent probably a year behind Dallas in this regard. With Conley leaving for the Jazz, Memphis has put this team in the hands of their youth and going by early signs, that seems to be a good decision. Jaren is the modern big who is a flexible defender with a burgeoning 3 point shot, and both rookies have looked exciting this pre-season. Brandon with the hops and Ja with speed to burn. The franchise is well run with a couple of veterans to help with the growing pains. I’m feeling optimistic about their future even though this seasons record may not reflect that, therefore resulting in:
5th in the Southwest with a 25/57 win/loss record.
Well that is it, all in all most teams in the Southwest are moving in the right direction, some further along the road to contending than others but, no fan of these teams should feel duped about the upcoming season. Excitement Plus, until next time.
from the Possingham Enquirer.