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View Full Version : my take on the championship race


superheadcat
09-20-2003, 06:14 PM
i think all of us will agree that next season's champ will come from one of these 5 teams: kings, lakers, mavs, spurs, and t-wolves. during the course of the season, one team may fumble, another may implode, and maybe one more team will be depleted by key injuries during palyoff time, but it is hard to imagine all 5 teams crumble and let any other team have even a remote chance to be close to the ring.

here is my takes on the pros and cons of these 5 teams (in alpha order) on their champ race this season:

1. kings:
pros:
their strength is the balance of o and d. offensively, they can run and gun almost as effectively as mavs, and defensively, they are capable of making key stops against some elite opponents. and stat-wise, they are great defensively. also, they have a reputation of depth, which seemed to allow them to sustain victories even with injuries to key players. they will be a serious title contender.
cons:
one injury in one year can be called a bad break, but repeated and consistent multiple injuries every year have to mean something's wrong in the organization. they cannot repeat year after year the same words: "if only who and who were healthy, we could have got the ring";
their offseason moves seemed to deplete their depths and defensive ability, and their key guys grow nothing but older;
but the most significant weakness: cwebb. as much i discard barkley's "analysis", he is right on one thing: kings can win the champ if and only if c-webb can carry them there. but cwebb has shown repeatedly that he is the one who would shy away from taking the big responsibility, who would rather have someone else taking the final shot, and who would prefer an easy way out of tough situations, the latest evidence being his legal fiasco. putting the whole team on such a character is quite risky. and if he does not show significant improvement in this area, i can pretty much write kings off the champ race.

2. lakers
pros: on paper, they are the favorite this year. the talents on paper is superior, and one thing i can say for sure is their intimidation can strike concerns, if not fear, into opponents who do not have a right mind set.
cons: but hey, since when have lakers NOT been a favorite on paper before the season start? even last year, before game 6 of second round of playoff, many critics still believed they can win the champ. but as shown 2 years ago by kings, and last year by spurs, lakers can be slowed, can be stoped, can be swept in regular season, and can be beaten handily in playoff series.
as obvious as their strengths, their weaknesses are obvious. for everything that can go right with the lakers, there is real possibility it can go terribly wrong: shaq's toe, kobe's legal distraction, malone's age, and glove's attitude, add to the possible ego and chamistry issues, the stakes are so high, and opportunities are so limited that this team will either be one of the greatest assembly for some time in nba or one of the biggest fiasco.

3. mavs
pros: offensively, they are the flagship in nba. the offseason move only strengthened that. and defensively, they are not as bad as some people make it to be, as least stat wise, they are average to good defensively. and the offseason moves improve their defense by default. and last season showed even with such noticeable weaknesses, this team is capable of being only 1 and a half game away from the title. another important strength: their youth. even if they don't win this year, they are serious title contender for the next decade.
cons: above average defense may not be enough for title contending. it is quite possible that raef, fortson, and josh can help significantly improving mavs' defense, but those are great potentials at most.
but the biggest issue with this team is their mental mindset. as shown last season, they are capable of losing games in biblical scale, the classic examples being the laker meltdown, the blazer series, and the first game against kings in 2nd round playoff. if they play like that again this season, we can forget about the whole title thing. however, i did notice some signs of significant improvement in this area: in the wcf, mavs showed lots of heart. even raef showed flashes of toughness and greatness. there is no reason to believe that this improvement won't continue this year.

4. spurs
this is a team that intrigued me the most. last season, maybe nobody will consider them a champ before the season. there are so many obvious holes: drob is retiring, tp and ginobili are unproven newbies, and besides td, who can score for the team? but they won, and won big. one obvious strength of them is their d. they can stop others from scoring. another strength is they are consistent (even when they squandered lead, they are consistent: the lost lead to lakers, mavs, suns, even nuggets). whomever they face, they are not intimidated, and they are able to play their game. and once they can play their game, most likely they will win. just like their superstar: not flashy, but effective, sometimes deadly effective. this year i don't see much differences: they are never pretenders, but neither favorite contender. and any team with a healthy td has to be consider a title contender. and with this particular team, i have to agree with popovich: "we don't sell, we win." and any level of win won't be a surprise.

5. t-wolves
honestly, i don't think they have a chance winning it this year. but their offseason moves and the organization's commitment shown by such moves merit an honorable mention here. and if everything goes perfectly in that team, they can be a serious contender.

my conclusion: as cuban said, when the season start, the champ race will be as open as last year's.

Murphy3
09-20-2003, 06:36 PM
great job SHC

MFFL
09-20-2003, 07:14 PM
Another good thread that will be ruined by ShaqAttack.

Shaq Attack2
09-20-2003, 07:16 PM
Excellent post, I pretty much agree with everything. I'd also emphasize the fact that the Mavs only need to improve their defense from mediocre to good (they don't need to be great because of their tremendous offensive ability) to have a very very good shot at the title. Some people just assume that because the Mavs didn't pick up a defensive stalwart like Artest that they won't improve their defense from last season. I beg to differ, especially with Jamison aboard with the potential to improve defensively.

Murphy3
09-20-2003, 07:29 PM
by not playing small ball, the mavs automatically improve with their interior defense. by trading NVE, the mavs improve on their outside defense by subtraction.

i think this season's matchups between the kings and the mavs should be interesting.
This year, I actually believe the mavs have a better starting lineup. I believe the benches could be more comparable at the beginning of the season. By the end of the season, the mavs should have the deeper bench.

but, will either team be able to stop the other? the games will probably come down to which team is better able to exploit the other team's defensive weaknesses.

EricaLubarsky
09-20-2003, 08:52 PM
Very astute, everyone. The Mavs don't have the deepest bench just yet, but they will have it by the end if even a few guys pan out. I think every team has about equal chances, except for Minnesota. Minn is the undersog that Dallas was last year as far as chances.

Murphy3
09-20-2003, 09:17 PM
the mavs have a wildcard in mills..i'm thinking that he can be used to help the bench if needed sometime before the trade deadline

dirno2000
09-20-2003, 09:34 PM
Good post. Great point about Sac. When people say we got lucky because Webber was injured, I tell them: injury prone player get injured. It would have been lucky if Duncan got hurt in the WCF, but Webber gets hurt every year. Sometimes in the pre-season, sometimes in the regular season, this year it was the playoffs.

EricaLubarsky
09-20-2003, 10:56 PM
I think fans can talk about luck, and Sac Town sure doesnt have any. It's just when they talk in "couldas and wouldas" that you can tell the idiot fans from the fans that know basketball....

EricaLubarsky
09-20-2003, 11:02 PM
Originally posted by: Murphy3
the mavs have a wildcard in mills..i'm thinking that he can be used to help the bench if needed sometime before the trade deadline

This is just a feeling in my stomache, and not in any way legitimized, but I think that if the Mavs ever struggle, Mills will never even hit the floor. If Cuban thinks there is a place where the Mavs need help, Nash's salary will come out of his own pocket (Read that if there is a good center available). Cuban would pay Nash's new salary in a hearbeat if he could help the team. Just my opinion, and that makes me really excited to think that there may be a substantial addition to the squad in the next few months

Murphy3
09-21-2003, 01:08 AM
oh sure. i con't expect mills to hit the floor this year. and, if he can be moved for someone of value, i expect him to be moved. but, if he can't, cuban will take the money that comes off the books at the end of the season with his contract and use it for nash.

but, there's almost always someone available worth looking at around the trade deadline. mills could be packaged with someone else of value...depending on the player they're looking to trade for, you could see a najera-type player thrown in to help even out salaries

EricaLubarsky
09-21-2003, 02:24 AM
Originally posted by: Murphy3
oh sure. i con't expect mills to hit the floor this year. and, if he can be moved for someone of value, i expect him to be moved. but, if he can't, cuban will take the money that comes off the books at the end of the season with his contract and use it for nash.

but, there's almost always someone available worth looking at around the trade deadline. mills could be packaged with someone else of value...depending on the player they're looking to trade for, you could see a najera-type player thrown in to help even out salaries


Brilliant minds think alike, although its not hard to see the Cuban's motivations and Mills trade worth.