Courtney Lee

2010-11 NBA Preview: Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks (55-27 last season)

Dallas needs the Mavericks to play well since their beloved Cowboys have been garbage.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jason Kidd

Shooting Guard: Caron Butler

Small Forward: Shawn Marion

Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki

Center: Brendan Haywood

Key Reserves:

Guard: Roddy Beaubois

Guard: Jason Terry

Center: Tyson Chandler

The Dallas Mavericks are going to be strong again and the addition of Tyson Chandler to back up Brendan Haywood should help on the defensive end.  Chandler has lost a step in his game, but he still has the skills to be a great reserve big man.  The shooting guard and small forward spot will also be interesting to watch.  Caron Butler and Shawn Marion cannot carry their positions alone.  They will need Jason Terry, Roddy Beaubois and rookie Dominique Jones to figure into the mix and log solid minutes.  Beaubois could even be the eventual replacement to Jason Kidd.  Roddy has an explosive first step, three-point range and has the ability to finish at the hoop.  This team still hinges on Dirk Nowitzki’s success and will prove to be a top team in the West.

Houston Rockets (42-40 last season)

Yao is healthy and ready to take Houston far in the playoffs.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Aaron Brooks

Shooting Guard: Kevin Martin

Small Forward: Shane Battier

Power Forward: Luis Scola

Center: Yao Ming

Key Reserves:

Guard: Courtney Lee

Forward: Chase Budinger

Center: Brad Miller

Yao Ming is back!  This is great news for Rockets’ fans.  Yao has also been playing like his old self in preseason.  With a healthy Yao all season, I have big expectations for this team.  Their leader on defense is back and a huge low post presence will be reinstated in Houston.  Granted, the number of minutes he will play will be low, but he is the key to the Rockets reemergence.  Trevor Ariza is gone and Chase Budinger will be the one to benefit the most from this loss.  Budinger has everything you would want in a small forward.  He can jump, shoot, defend and pass.  Look for a great second season for the man from Arizona.  Kevin Martin will also be poised for another 20+ point season.  I think the Rockets have the best chance to knock off the Lakers if they can make it to the Western Conference Finals.

San Antonio Spurs (50-32 last season)

Take your pick on who gets injured first.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Tony Parker

Shooting Guard: Manu Ginobili

Small Forward: Richard Jefferson

Power Forward: Tim Duncan

Center: Antonio McDyess

Key Reserves:

Guard: George Hill

Forward: DeJuan Blair

Forward-Center: Tiago Splitter

For the first time in years, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are entering the season fit and healthy.  I believe this big three still has some game in them left to be played, but time is running out.  Two-time Spanish League MVP, Tiago Splitter, was brought in to back up Duncan and should provide great defense and rebounding.  If Splitter can provide, Duncan can hopefully be fresh for the playoffs, and this is what head coach Greg Popovich wants.  Richard Jefferson also needs to bury a disappointing last season and be ready to produce for the Spurs on both ends of the floor.  I think this will be a good team, but the greatness of the Spurs has run out.

Memphis Grizzlies (40-42 last season)

Gay will be looking to propel the Grizzlies to greatness.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Mike Conley

Shooting Guard: O.J. Mayo

Small Forward: Rudy Gay

Power Forward: Zach Randolph

Center: Marc Gasol

Key Reserves:

Guard: Tony Allen

Guard: Xavier Henry

Center: Hasheem Thabeet

Rudy Gay is slowly turning into a big time superstar.  By playing with Team USA this summer, Gay will be taking that next step to becoming great and the rest of the Grizzlies must follow suit.  With Gay, O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph, Memphis has no trouble putting the ball into the hoop, but defense is their major issue.  Centers Marc Gasol and Hasheem Thabeet need to be the catalysts for defensive presence.  Mike Conley also needs to excel his game.  Now entering his fourth season, Conley needs to improve from being just a mediocre point guard for the Grizzlies to be playoff contenders.  This team is very young and has the potential to have a 2009-10 Oklahoma City type season.

New Orleans Hornets (37-45 last season)

CP3's eyes are on the prize, but does he have the team to do it?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Chris Paul

Shooting Guard: Marco Belinelli

Small Forward: Trevor Ariza

Power Forward: David West

Center: Emeka Okafor

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jerryd Bayless

Guard: Marcus Thornton

Forward: Peja Stojakovic

I feel the Southwest Division is very competitive and even though the Hornets will be an improvement from last season, they will still finish last.  Chris Paul is back to being healthy and he has two new exciting swingmen: Trevor Ariza and Jerryd Bayless.  With Paul at the helm, the Hornets are definitely going to push the tempo to take advantage in the open floor.  Ariza thrives off of this style of play, and Bayless could prove to be a great back up for Paul.  Bayless will also get time at the shooting guard position to play with Paul.  Emeka Okafor and David West need to improve the defense which had an open-door policy to the rim last season.  All-in-all, I just don’t see it happening for the Hornets this year.

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Play Like There’s No ToMORROW

By: Ross Geiger

Morrow's the best signing the Nets made all summer

Each NBA offseason, signings and minor trades happen that quite frankly go unacknowledged and rightfully so. This year was no different with many deals reached based solely on the decision to save money during tough times or to save up for future free agents. But one trade in particular that can be labeled as “minor” demands some note righty involves a team which struck out this summer.

The New Jersey Nets swapped a future second-round draft pick on July 13th and return received Anthony Morrow from the Golden State Warriors. Morrow, a former undrafted NBA prospect has quickly become one of the league’s bright young sharp shooters. A career 47% shooter from long range, Morrow has packed his bags taking his game to a Nets team that was begging for the services he offers nightly.

To top it all off, the departure of Courtney Lee is simple reflection Terrence Williams’s impressive summer improvements and of course the addition of Morrow into their rotation. While Williams is the front-runner for starting shooting guard spot on opening night, there very well could be a change of plans as early as within the first handful of games. As mentioned in a recent post, Williams is an ultimate sixth man off any bench in the league with his ability to play multiple positions. One important ability that Williams lacks is an outside spot-up shot.

Morrow is a volume, shot friendly shooter that stretches the opposing defenses as well as help star guard Devin Harris and even Williams tally up the assists. Nets fans will soon realize and strangely appreciate two things about Morrow brings to the table no matter the opponent. He’s never seen a shot he didn’t like and he plays at such a high level as if there virtually was no tomorrow.

The 24 year-old nicknamed “A-Mo” is a hungry player with a huge chip that continues to rest on his shoulder; even more so then ever after proving himself as a member of the Warriors and being flipped for something as small as future second rounder. The move to New Jersey can be seen as trade that benefits both worlds as both the Nets and Morrow have a land of opportunity to grow together.

Morrow must've majored in "Opportunity" at Georgia Tech

Attending Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Morrow has mastered the gift of opportunities. His first start with the Warriors went from a Don Nelson experiment to memorable night in the NBA World on July 25, 2008. Morrow torched the Los Angeles Clippers that night with a video game type box score, dropping 37 points connecting on an unbelievable 15-20 attempts. It’s impressive enough that Morrow set an NBA record putting up the most points ever scored in a game by an undrafted player in his rookie, but as the cherry on top he also grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with the 37 points.

From that point forward, there was no looking back for Morrow going onto to finish the 2008-2009 season as the first rookie and first Warrior ever to lead the league in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 86 of just 184 attempts.

Heading into next season, the Nets hope and expect much of the same from their newest acquisition. The expectations and production have changed in the matter of just one quick year in the league for Morrow. But one thing has yet to change, he’ll continue to do what he does best. Prove the doubters wrong shot after shot, opportunity after opportunity, and do so playing like there’s no tomorrow.

Morrow lives on in New Jersey next season

Ross Geiger’s NBA Season Award Predictions

Ross Geiger’s NBA Season Award Predictions

Most Valuable Player:

  1. 1. LeBron James– It’s pretty simple for King James, improve upon last year’s record of 66-16 and carry his team to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. If he can do that, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be handed back-to-back MVP honors. That’s a lot to ask for right? Wrong, if he can do it last year, there’s no reason to expect anything less from him year with the Cavs dramatically strengthening their depth surrounding him. The only one who can stop LeBron from grabbing two straight MVPs is LeBron. PERIOD
  2. 2. Dwight Howard– There’s been much talk that Dwight has improved his overall offense game this offseason, if that can be put on displayed immediately along alongside the direct results in the win column, Dwight has a legit shot at making his case for MVP. Already the most dominating big man in the game today, leading the league in both rebounds and blocks last year, if he can continue to be league leader in both rebounds and blocks while continuing to improve his scoring average and free throw percentage, makes himself a prime candidate, if hasn’t already done so.
  3. 3. Kevin Durant– This should be the year Kevin Durant, absolutely blows up. If so, he not only put himself in a position to become involved in the MVP talks but should also put his team in a position to possibly make the playoffs. Though I put Durant 3rd on MVP candidate list, even if the Thunder aren’t a championship caliber team, if the Thunder make the playoffs, Durant could make an exception to the unwritten MVP rule.

Honorable Mention: Kobe Bryant & Andre Iguodala

Sixth Man of the Year:

  1. 1. Manu Ginobili– While adding Richard Jefferson should take a little pressure of Ginobili’s expectations to score, Manu still needs to provide a scoring spark off the San Antonio bench. Ginobili if finally back to full health, the Manu of old, should be as good as new this year. If you don’t believe me ask Charles Barkley and he’ll respond, “GGINNOOOBILLLLIII”.
  2. 2. Leandro Barbosa- Call it a “homer” pick, I don’t care, but fact is Barbosa could find away to come up with his second Sixth Man of the Year honor. With Coach Gentry leading the team back into the direction of the “7 Seconds or Less” mentality, Barbosa being one of the top three fastest players in the league, has to be in the running for Sixth Man. The Brazilian Blur is counted upon to score in bunches off the bench for the high octane Suns, a team that averaged 117.7 ppg after the coaching change. So let’s do that math, nearly 118 points, dare I say Barbosa contribute nearly 18 to 20 each game this year? Just think about it…
  3. 3. Jason Terry- It’s never hard or incorrect to throw “The Jets” name out in Sixth Man talks, he’s been one of the best in the business for years. I think Shawn Marion’s ability to help the Mavs run more only helps Terry’s ability to find more acceptable time, if the Mavs decide to go small on teams. The faster the Mavs pace their offense the more touches and opportunities Terry will get to light it up from the floor. It’s possible Terry could go onto winning the honor for the second straight year.

Honorable Mention: Ben Gordon & (tie) Daequan Cook/Hakim Warrick (if he ends up coming off the bench for the majority of the season)

Rookie of the Year:

  1. 1. Blake Griffin- I’m not a fan of Griffin, I think at best he’ll end up being the next Kenyon Martin in terms of ability. But it’s hard to go against the number one pick who despite the depth should find plenty of opportunity with the Clippers.
  2. 2. Brandon Jennings– Many would call it a stretch, but I’d like to point out, if the Bucks veterans stay healthy, he should be able to be successful with their help. NBA veterans Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, Carlos Delfino, Kurt Thomas, and Hakim Warrick already believe in the young kid’s ability and should help keep the game simple for the second year pro (yeah, I said it). If Jennings’s leadership proves to help the Bucks battle for a final playoff spot, something nobody has predicted (but me) then he could become quite a surprise for Rookie of the Year honors.
  3. 3. Terrence Williams- An interesting pick, but not out of the question if team success is not part of the picture. To be fair, none of this year’s potential rookie of the year candidates have a good chance at making the playoffs (don’t think DeRozan is a top rook stat-wise), so Williams actually has an upper edge on all the rest. The Nets are set on rebuilding and with on the pathetic Bobby Simmons in Williams’s way, he should find time to put up numbers. So far in the preseason, Williams has shown vast improvements and has been getting tons of touches. Had to put Terrence Williams here, so if he does it, I can say, I told ya so!

Honorable Mention: Tyreke Evans & (tie) Stephen Curry/Jonny Flynn

Most Improved Player Award:

  1. 1. Anthony Randolph
  2. 2. Roy Hibbert
  3. 3. Channing Frye

Honorable Mention: Courtney Lee & Corey Brewer

Defensive Player of the Year:

  1. 1. Dwight Howard
  2. 2. Caron Butler
  3. 3. Ron Artest

Honorable Mention: Tyrus Thomas & Mario Chalmers

Coach of the Year:

  1. 1. Flip Saunders- Washington Wizards
  2. 2. Doc Rivers- Boston Celtics
  3. 3. Scott Brooks- Oklahoma City Thunder

Honorable Mention: Alvin Gentry (Phoenix Suns) & Scott Skiles (Milwaukee Bucks)

Executive of the Year:

  1. 1. Donnie Nelson (Dallas Mavericks)
  2. 2. Ernie Grunfeld (Washington Wizards)
  3. 3. Danny Ferry (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Honorable Mention: Danny Ainge (Boston Celtics) & RC Buford (San Antonio Spurs)