The Baseline With Laz Jackson: NBA Preview Edition (Western Conference – Southwest Division)

lazProbably the toughest division in basketball. 4 out of 5 teams in the division could make the playoffs. Who comes out on top? CP3 and the Hornets, who are out to prove last year was no fluke.

Follow the jump to read Laz’s rundown of the NBA’s Southwest Division!

Dallas Mavericks

Motto:”We’re MAVERICKS! Just like McCain!”
Major Acquisition: None
Major Loss: None
Ceiling: 55-27, 5th seed in the Western Conference, Western Conference Finals exit.
Floor: 50-32, 8th seed in the Western Conference, first round exit, Mark Cuban (above) kills a puppy.
New coach, same team. Avery WAS wound kinda tight, but I liked him, he got Dallas to play D. Anyway, this team is solid top-to-bottom. Dirk is still a top-10 guy in the league, Jason Terry still plays a good sidekick, and Josh Howard can light up… opposing defenses. ( Ha! See what I did there, I made fun of his weed… ahh, forget it.) There are just better teams in the West than them. That simple.

Houston Rockets

Motto:”This year…we make it out of the first round!”
Major Acquisition: SF Ron Artest (above).
Major Loss: PG/SG Bobby Jackson.
Ceiling: 56-26, 4th seed in the Western Conference, second-round exit.
Floor: 52-30, 7th seed in the Western Conference, first-round exit.
The addition of Ron Artest makes this team dangerous. However, it’s also what makes them very unpredictable. Other questions abound: Can Rafer play like he did during the win streak? Will the chemistry be affected negatively or positively by Battier coming off the bench? Can Tracy make it? Watch and see.

Memphis Grizzlies

Motto:”Please… let us up. Please? *Ribs Crack* Oh, that wasn’t good…”
Major Acquisition: PG OJ Mayo.
Major Loss: SG Mike Miller.
Ceiling: 37-45, out of playoffs.
Floor: 30-52, out of playoffs.
OK, so I like Mike Conley. I like OJ Mayo (above). That’s it. They only reason I would watch this team is if OJ turns out to be a stud. This year. Not gonna happen.

New Orleans Hornets

Motto:”You thought we were lucky last year. We’ll just be MORE lucky this year.”
Major Acquisition: SF James Posey
Major Loss: None
Ceiling: 58-24, 2nd seed in the Western Conference, NBA Champs.
Floor: 54-28 , 4th seed in the Western Conference, second-round exit.
Danger! Danger! Danger! Future of the league approaching! CP3 (above) is Isiah Thomas v. 2.0, and as such he makes everybody around him better. Like, the hot dog guys in the first couple rows are great at what they do BECAUSE of CP3. He’s that good. And they added James Posey for playoff experience, which that got plenty of last year. As long as Peja doesn’t go sub-zero in the postseason, they’re as dangerous as anyone in the league.

San Antonio Spurs

Motto: “03..05…07…09. ‘Nuff said.”
Major Acquisition: None
Major Loss: None
Ceiling: 56-26, 3rd seed in the Western Conference, NBA Champs.
Floor: 53-29, 6th seed in the Western Conference, second-round exit.
Will they carry on tradition? It’s possible. The core of Ginobilli, Duncan, Parker is intact (well, Ginobilli is hurt for the first 20 or so games, but that doesn’t matter, they play their best basketball late in the season) and that’s enough. One day, though, the rest of this team is going to get old. And that day is coming soon, sad to say.