Blog Entry

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview

Posted on: October 12, 2008 11:49 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2008 4:36 pm

A person would have to be the captain of the championship debate team in order to convince me that the Southwest Division is not the best and deepest division in the NBA right now. With four teams that won more that 50 game apiece last season and each of those four look to win as many if not more again this year, it is hard to argue against the Southwest. Some of the best players of the past decade along with some of the brightest future stars reside here. The Hornets, Mavericks, Rockets, and Spurs are all but locks to make the playoffs again this year. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies they are still the blacksheep of the division, but there lies hope in some of their young talent.

It is a difficult task for one to attempt to wrap their mind around this season and just how the Southwest will play out. The Spurs have made no real roster changes, but are always a threat to make a run for another title as long as Tim Duncan is still wandering in the paint. The rags to riches team of last season, the Hornets, look like they will be even better with the addition of the gritty James Posey. This could be the Rockets' season to return to the Finals with the risky acquisition of Ron Artest, or will major injuries to either Yao Ming or Tracy McGrady hold those dreams in check? Will the Jason Kidd trade look like a great move as the Mavericks make it to the final dance, or will lack of defense and passion make the trade look like a mistake?

The only way to get to the bottom of these questions and many more is to take a good look into each team and try to seperate fact from fiction. Let the breakdown begin:

1. The New Orleans Hornets (60-22) (2nd Seed)

The only true challenge that faces the Hornets this season is if they are good enough to have another great season after surprising the league last year. They are no longer off the radar. Will they be able to step up and play against harder competition? I think they will take that step. My reasoning is simple. They have Chris Paul. To me Paul is the second best player in the league this year and if the Hornets are as good as they were last season, I think he will take home the MVP. Who is the best player you ask? Well, he is not in this divison so I will refrain from that agrument. Chris has that special talent that makes everyone on his team better. He is the ultimate team player. The Hornets also have a balanced team with David West, Peja Stojakovic, and Tyson Chandler. West is now considered one of the top low post players in the game and Tyson is a great defender and put-back man. The player that is standing out this preseason is Mike James. I understand that it is only the preseaon, but having another scoring threat on the floor only makes Chris Paul more dangerous. I also love the addition of James Posey. The Hornets will only benefit from having the tough as nails Posey around. Every great team has that player who can get under the opposing players skin. Think Rodman or Bowen. Posey will not put up big numbers, but will be responsible for more then a couple of wins. Overall, the Hornets have a great chance to go all the way, but so do three other teams in the division. I just think they have the most complete team with a superstar handling the ball.

2. The Houston Rockets (57-25) (3rd Seed)

I would love to see everything work out perfectly for this team, but something deep in the back of my head says something will happen to take the glory from McGrady's hands. I do not believe in curses, so I do not think that some force from the outside is toying with poor Tracy. What I do believe in is injury reports and history tells me not to put too many eggs in the Rockets' basket. With that being said, If the Rockets stay healthy, both Tracy and Yao, then they could very well make it to the Finals. Yao Ming is a top center and Tracy McGrady is one of the best players in the NBA period. With the addition of Ron Artest the Rockets could finally have all the parts needed to take that next step. I think Artest is a great player for the Rockets. He can drive a fan and a coach crazy at times, but if his talent is harnessed correctly he could be the key. The Rockets also have some other interesting players to consider. Brent Barry is a solid pick-up. He can open up the offense with his sharp-shooting. Luis Scola will only get better, and Shane Battier will always play smart ball whenever he is on the floor. Rafer Alston is a solid Point Guard and is able to run the team on the floor. Overall, The Rockets could be the best team is the league if they suffer no major injuries to McGrady or Ming.

3. The San Antonio Spurs (53-29) (5th Seed)

As much as I love to watch Tim Duncan and the Spurs, I truly feel they are starting to fade. It all started last year when they were pushed to seven games against a much younger and less experienced Hornets team. However, I can not just write them off. I think they will still be a top team and cause a lot of problems for other teams. At the end of the day though, I am not sure they have enough left in the tank to win another Championship. If somehow I am a fool and they do win another ring, then Tim Duncan will be the best Power Forward that the NBA has ever seen. Many already make that claim now, but nobody would be able to refute it if they win it all again. The other key factors on the team are also getting older as well. Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Michael Finley are all about ready to sign up with AARP. I thought the Spurs would make a splash in the offseason, but it never happened and now they face the season one year older. Tony Parker is the young guy on the team and he is certainly a superstar in the league, but he can only do so much. Manu Ginobili is now 31 and his body might start slowing him down. Will manu still have his quickness and in turn still be so effective? I am not sure. In many ways that is a good way to look at this team now. "I am not sure". In the end however, I can think of really no team that would want to face them in a seven game series. I just hope they get some more talent around Duncan before it is too late.

4. The Dallas Mavericks (52-30) (6th Seed)

Yes, I think the Mavericks will be a better team this year. Not a lot better, but a little better. I do think they will edge out the Suns for the 6th seed as well. Sorry Suns fans. Jason Kidd has much to prove and will play quite well this season. The thing is is that the Mavericks still just have so much talent that they can not lose. Will they play hard defense under new Head Coach Rick Carlisle? No. Will they score a lot of points and out run most teams? Yes. Dirk Nowitzki will do what he has always done. He will score like crazy from all over the floor. Jason Terry and Josh Howard will also just flat out score. This will work in most cases. This will get them into the playoffs. However, the Mavericks will never win the Finals without some more defense. The Mavericks are the best team in the NBA on paper, but only the tenth best on the floor. The Mavericks really should have made the trade for Ron Artest, even if it meant losing Josh Howard. The NBA is full of Josh Howard type players, but there is only one Ron Artest. Say what you want about Artest, but he would have been a nice fit on the Mavs. A bright spot in Dallas however is the young Brandon Bass. He looks like he could turn into a real monster down low. Overall, I really do not see the Mavericks making it out of the first round. That is sad because they ooze talent.

5. The Memphis Grizzlies (24-58) (miss playoffs)

This brings me to the bottom of the pack. The Grizzlies have a few parts, but let's face it, they are a long way from being any good. To top it off they are in the best division within the best conference. I gave them two more wins this year simply out of pity. Rudy Gay is the star of a one man show. Sure there is Hakim Warrick, Mike Conley, and the rookie O.J. Mayo to make things interesting and entertaining form time to time, but really this team is in a rebuilding period. Maybe even a promising one at that, but they are far from competing. The Grizzlies fan must sit back and not look at the wins and loses. He must look to see if the young guys are getting better. He must make a fist pump when Marc Gasol slams one home and jump out of his seat like a madman if Gay hits a buzzer beater. Take it from a Bulls fan, you must find some joy in the little things. The real doom of this team can be found on the roster. His name is Antoine Walker. I predict that he alone will account for at least 50 of the 58 loses. All kidding aside Grizzlies fans, you are the underdogs, so stand up and have some pride in yourselves. You are going to need it.


Well I hope this was half as fun for you to read as it was for me to write. I really like the Hornets this season to go all the way. They are the one team that really stands out to me from the rest of the pack in the Southwest. However, Anything can happen, as it often does, in this wonderful game we call the NBA.




Since: Sep 24, 2007
Posted on: October 27, 2008 1:00 pm

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview

I'm not sure what you meant when you wrote the Spurs lost to the Hornets last year.  The Spurs won that seires in seven games, and later were elimated by the Lakers in the conference finals.

Since: Jan 20, 2008
Posted on: October 26, 2008 10:33 am

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview

I am not sure were I predicted the Lakers or Hornets winning the Finals in this Blog, but in any event I think they are the top two teams this year in the West. If they do meet in the WCF, then I see the series going at least 6 games, but more likely 7. The Rockets could get there as well if Yao and McGrady stay healthy and Artest works out. I will have to write a Blog on my season  playoff predictions for the whole NBA. That would be fun. Thanks for the Post.

Since: Jun 29, 2008
Posted on: October 25, 2008 8:56 pm

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview

Really nice reply on the division you don't support and you were really doing good but the only thing you got wrong is the Hornets will beat the Lakers, in 5 game, and go on to the finals to play Boston and win in 7. The Hornets are a LOT better team than the Lakers purely because they play as a TEAM. The match up, player for player, the Hornest are better, and Chris Paul, who SHOULD have won MVP last year, will get it this year and so will Coach Scott repeat Coach of the Year. Face it, the Lakers will not will a title with Kobe by himself, you don't have a true big man and the Lakers lack working as a complete team, bottom line. The match ups between the two will favor the Hornets, winning there home games and winning 1 of 2 in LA. The playoffs, the Hornets will have home court advantage, winning it in game 5 to go on to play Boston. Look forward to your reply to this

Since: Jan 20, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2008 6:03 pm

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview


Thanks for the reply. The Spurs are a hard team to predict. To me they are the Pistons of the West. If they get to the finals, nobody would be shocked. I can not wait to see what unfolds. You just know that some team is going to rise from nowhere and at the same time a title contender will miss the playoffs. I just love the NBA.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: October 24, 2008 3:09 pm

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview

Cliff! Well done! i must say that you and Big B both have very well thought out and presented posts! the pictures are cool too!

the SouthWest conference features top 5 Bigs with Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitski, Tyson Chandler, and Yao Ming. I am not sure how Marc Gasol and Darko Milicic will feel trying to keep up with those guys night after night!! The biggest problem with the Mavericks is at Center as well and i think a lot of teams in this division will exploit that so i feel they will end up forth in the division with around 45 wins. the Hornets winning 60? I agree they offer a wide range of looks and options at every position, but without Jannero Pargo or an adequate backup for Chris Paul, i think they will lose a few that he won for them last year and not many teams will be surprised by the trio of CP3, Tyson Chandler and David West this season.

the Spurs are the dark horse to me this year, with Manu Ginobili out for the beginning of the season, i see them struggling in this conference to maintain a .500 season, and Manu at less than 100% until probably february or march could sink the season for them. Losing Robert Horry and Brent Barry off the bench will hurt as well as until Manu gets back, Michael Finley won't be available to score off the bench either. i see a tough 1st half for them and see the Rockets picking up the pieces from last year and winning 55 or 56 this year to challenge the Hornets for the division. I too, feel for the Grizzlies who have such potential, but play in the toughest division in the association.


Since: Jan 20, 2008
Posted on: October 16, 2008 8:40 pm

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview


Thanks for the reply. I think I gave the Grizzlies a lot more credit then I have heard a lot of others give them. Gay is a budding star and O.J. Mayo is a stud in the making. I think he will be the rookie of the year. He should get the minutes to put up big numbers. Beasley is his real only compitition. Oden could be if he stay healthy and gets a starting role. I just think Majo is ready to contribute right away. He has great skills and is super smart. Grizzlies could be good in a couple of years.

P.S. Gay Mayo is just sick.

Since: Mar 15, 2007
Posted on: October 16, 2008 7:10 pm

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview

Cliff, great job as usual...after reading your preview I would now have to move you ahead of MAJOYENRAC as the most knowledgeable Bulls fan haha

I agree almost everything, you pretty much nailed it.  Let me just add that dont sleep on the Grizzlies, I think there is more talent there then meets the eye.  Alot of folks were really up in arms when the Grizz traded away Pau Gasol to the Lakers for Kwame, a couple of draft picks and Marc Gasol.  But I was telling everyone watch out for this kid Marc Gasol, he was pretty impressive in the Olympics and although he is still raw and rough around the edges the kid can play.  I actually think he will be a solid contributor for them, I like the Gay Mayo (no pun intended) combo.  Give them a couple of years they should be a fun team to watch.

Very well done!

Since: May 18, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2008 5:29 pm

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview

Great Blog Cliff. I read your Bulls preview on the Bulls page so I thought I woulf check out your newest blog. Very impressive. I think your predictions seem fair. I like the Rockets chances better then you seem to, but you are right about injuries. I think the Grizzlies will win less then 20, because the West is so good. I think the Spurs are the West's Pistons. Getting old and both missing the chance to make solid trades. Spurs could have gotten a lot for Manu a year or so ago and so could the Pistons with Billups. Now their value is dropping as their age rises. They both need to do something and fast. The Mavs looked really good against our Bulls, but what is that really saying. I think they are a Darkhorse this season. I also agree that Chris Paul is great and the best player in the Southwest right now.

Keep up the good work!

Since: Jan 20, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2008 7:40 pm

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview

Thanks StarryFoxie,

I have noticed that you have read the other season previews written by other fellow posters here at I think it is very cool that you have taken the time to read and write such nice replies.

I think you prediction for the Grizzlies could very well happen. 14 wins is a worse case, I think the Grizzlies will be able to beat up on the weaker teams in the east and get most of there wins there. I am not sure that the Spurs will win more games this year then last. I see them slipping a bit, but who really knows. If Tim Duncan is healthy then they could indeed win it all. However, I believe the Lakers, Hornets, Rockets, and Celtics have the best chance to make it to the Finals. Spurs, Jazz, Mavericks, Suns, Pistons, and Cavaliers are options as well. 

Since: Aug 26, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2008 5:40 pm

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview

Hi ChiTownCliff,

Wow!  Your layout content with the photos impresses me a lot!  Excellent job!

Funny thing, you and I are in common that we predict that the Southwest division shall feature four 50-win teams for the second year in a row since the 4 teams have a lot of great players and defenders.  Plus, we pick the teams with the same seeds: #2 seed for the Hornets, #3 for Rockets as the best non-divisional leading team, #5 for Spurs and #6 for Mavericks.  However, my win-loss records for each team are a little different from yours.  Here are my win-loss predictions for all teams in this Southwest division:

  1. New Orleans Hornets, 60-22, No. 2 seed (behind league-best 68-win Los Angeles Lakers; third best team in the league)
  2. Houston Rockets, 58-24, No. 3
  3. San Antonio Spurs, 57-25, No. 5 (home-court advantage vs. No. 4 56-win Utah Jazz in West's 1st round)
  4. Dallas Mavericks, 54-28, No. 6
  5. Memphis Grizzlies, 14-68, No. 14 (league's second worst team behind OKC Thunder by one game)

I predict that the West Finals will feature the Lakers and Hornets.  Of course, it will be the first time for the Hornets to advance to the Conference Finals in its franchise history after battling with the Rockets in all 7 games of the West's Semifinals.  However, unfortunately, the Lakers will advance to the NBA Finals and win its 15th NBA championship after defeating the Detroit Pistons in 6 games.

I hope you continue to write more predictions and previews for the rest of the NBA other divisions on your blog here, and I will look to read yours.  Again, I want to let you know that you really did the outstanding job! 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or