NBA Blogger Season Previews (Yes, Really) - Southwest Division

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 16: Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks cheers during the Dallas Mavericks Victory Parade on June 16, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

FSo we're a little crazy optimistic like that. Should the miracle happen and a new CBA gets done in time to save the season, we don't want to be caught with our pants down and have nothing to show for it. It's not like we depend on the NBA for stories and writing and stuff, right?

In case you're new here, each team is previewed by a myriad of bloggers from around the Intertubes where the discuss their hopes and bad dreams about the upcoming season. Give each of them a visit as you educate yourself about the rest of the league.

Southwest Division Previews

Excerpts and discussion available after the jump.

2011 Memphis Grizzlies Preview... For A Theoretical Season. - Straight Outta Vancouver
5. If one were to power rank the Western Conference as of right now, where do the Grizzlies stand? I’d put the Grizzlies jostling between the fourth and fifth spot with the Denver Nuggets, behind the Dallas Mavericks (for obvious reasons), Oklahoma City Thunder (for Kevin Durant reasons), and Los Angeles Lakers (for Hey, They’re Still the Lakers reasons). Memphis was the eighth seed in a bunched-up bottom of the Western Conference playoffs last season, with a team that handed the San Antonio Spurs plenty of question marks and appears, with a more complete starting five with Gay back in the fold and a feisty, improving young bench, stronger top-to-bottom than the Portland Trail Blazers or New Orleans Hornets at this time.

At the Hive's 2011-2012 New Orleans Hornets Preview - At The Hive
2. What are the team's biggest strengths & weaknesses? (so far) The biggest strength is Monty Williams. As crazy as the last year and change has been, the current situation only underlines how vital the hire of a strong defensive coach (whether that was the team's first choice of Tom Thibodeau or Monty Williams) was. For really the first time in the CP3 era, the team has a legitimate identity outside of Chris Paul - that of their defense. Obviously defenders of the caliber of Paul and Trevor Ariza contribute greatly to the end product here, but the schemes, game-to-game adjustments, and team cohesion were all outstanding last year. Sadly that (and Chris Paul) is about as far as the 'strengths' list extends. Weaknesses on the other hand... count 'em:

1. The team is owned by the NBA.
2. If contraction is real, well, yeah, let's not finish this thought.
3. The team's second best player - West - suffered a gruesome injury mere months ago; nobody knows how he'll recover.
4. If he recovers well, there's a decent chance he'll be playing for another team.
5. There's a decent change the team's third best offensive player - Landry - is also gone.
6. If there's no season, the team's best player has played his last game for them, and the team holds essentially no bargaining power
7. For having just six players under contract, the team has shockingly little room to maneuver financially, given the deals of Okafor, Ariza, and Jack.
8. Years of traded and mostly sold draft picks have led to a total lack of youth
9. The team is owned by the NBA.

It's tough times.

The Dream Shake's 2011-2012 Houston Rockets Preview - The Dream Shake
2. What are the Rockets' biggest strengths & weaknesses? Strengths -- Houston's backcourt is its engine and its driving force. Point guard Kyle Lowry will be on a quest to prove his breakout season wasn't a fluke. Goran Dragic is the backup, a sharpshooter with a knack for being a really good bench player without possessing the true credentials to keep Lowry on any form of a hot seat. Third stringer Jonny Flynn will get his chance to play outside of the triangle offense for the first time in his young career, a move many think will help place him on the right track. Shooting guard Kevin Martin gets his first mention nearly ten paragraphs down -- a fitting designation for a player often overlooked. Martin stepped his game up in 2010, playing in 80 games while showering opponents with flowers of efficiency. He averaged 23.5 points on only 15.8 shots per game, but at the same time, he only played 32 minutes per game. I like backup Courtney Lee as much as anyone, but Martin will need another five minutes on the floor each night for the Rockets to have more success.

2011-12 Spurs Season Preview: Lockout Edition | September
5. Do the Spurs have a shot to get back into title contention? As Doc Rivers told me in an interview once, the Spurs will always be a contender as long as they have Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. The only thing I would add to Rivers' quote is the word healthy. The Spurs were on a remarkable pace last season and the team seemed to be firing on all cylinders. A Duncan injury, which affected team chemistry and momentum, followed by Ginobili's injury in the final game of the regular season had a definite impact on their playoff success. The Spurs second unit lost a lot in the Hill trade, but a healthy James Anderson paired with Neal, a wildcard in Leonard, and Blair and Splitter should be an interesting combination. Richard Jefferson and an open spot next to Duncan are two major question marks for this team and will be directly associated to their success. When looking back at the healthy team the Spurs had during the regular season, I certainly would not rule this time out, if they play this season. If the 2011-12 season is lost, all bets are off.

2011 Dallas Mavericks Preview... For A Theoretical Season - Mavs Moneyball
3. If there is no season in 2011-12, how is your team set up for 2012? The Mavericks are a team full of veterans who know how to prepare for a season. If there IS no season to prepare for, I highly doubt they will get fat and lazy and show up to training camp unprepared to play. They are also aging veterans, with the majority of them residing well into their thirties. Time off from constant playing could prove to be beneficial after such a grueling post-season. Too much time off, however, and you might start to see negative effects of inactivity.

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