Fact: And they should be the favorite for the whole thing, except I would contradict myself. I do think Vince Carter might be the jinx this team needs. I want to start off with a shoutout to Rick Carlisle, who has been a fantastic coach for a long time and deserves to be called an NBA Champion Coach. The Lamar Odom steal was a...uhhh...steal, but the loss of Tyson Chandler will hurt. Seems strange to be Dallas would push Chandler out the door, only to pick up Odom, who makes around 2 million less (5 million against Chandler new deal). They must really believe they are getting Howard. Dallas will be fine and can save their amnesty.
Fact: A lot was made about how LA was jobbed, but Houston was planning to trade for Pau and sign Nene and basically build an LA-lite. And it would have worked. They were screwed worse than LA in the deal. Now they have to go to plan B, which is ride out the season until someone has a fire sale. They have good pieces on good deals (Scola, Martin) and depth at every position. I think Houston will overachieve this year because they will get overlooked. And did I mention that Daryl Morey is an MIT alum? Just wanted to make sure. MIT is 12-0 so far going into conference play! Best start ever! Sorry, got distracted.
Memphis is in the top 4 in the NBA.
Fiction: It's not that I don't like this team. I think I am being careful with a young team that in all honesty was not great last year and just had a favorable matchup against San Antonio. Randolph worries me. Sam Hurd got popped for trying to be Bell and Barksdale and Randolph keeps getting close to the same thing. Marc Gasol is a good player who will be ok with the contract, but I would invest in a bike and nutritionist (and yoga apparently). Rudy Gay is the X-factor. He wasn't on the team when they did what they did and if he can be big, but seamless, then they can be in the top 4. No amnesty candidates yet.
New Orleans has a good team.
Fact: I actually like their team, even though Stern screwed them. Eric Gordon is a baller. He and Jack will be fine together. Landry will be good as a West replacement (even though he rebounds poorly) and Caveman is in a contract year, so he should be well-behaved. This is now Trevor Ariza's team and he'll get a chance to show his leadership (I doubt he will). The other guy that can show leadership is Emeka Okafor, who I forgot was on this team! As an aside, I didn't know Dell Demps was black. Food for thought.
San Antonio has 1 more run.
Fiction: Unfortunately, their most recent moves have not helped. Taigo Splitter has not really panned out, and the Richard Jefferson acquisition was a bust. Tony Parker and his cheating didn't help that team either. Tim Duncan is gracefully fading as he should and cannot carry this team anymore. Memphis was able to destroy them inside and their guards pressured George Hill to death (part of the reason he was traded). Manu Ginobili also showed age and wear. I think it's time to blow it up.