1. San Antonio Spurs
Why wouldn’t they stand pat after defeating the Miami Heat so easily?
2. New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis proved in the summer why he’s the best big man in the league.
3. Dallas Mavericks
Lots of new faces, but a familiar one in Chandler will help immensely.
4. Houston Rockets
Losing Parsons will come back to haunt them.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
This team suddenly looks older, but they can sneak into the playoffs health permitting.
Head Coach: Gregg Popovich
Key Position: Power Forward – It wouldn’t be a surprise at all if Tim Duncan didn’t play more than 65 games this season. Popovich will want to keep him, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili ready for another title run. And why not. They’ve done it so many times before and with an influx in fresh bodies i.e, Kyle Anderson and Aron Baynes the Spurs should be just fine.
Key Rookies: F Kyle Anderson
Key Acquisitions: Patty Mills (re-signed)
Starting Lineup: G Tony Parker, G Danny Green, F Kawhi Leonard, F Tim Duncan, C Tiago Splitter
Head Coach: Monty Williams
Key Position: Point Guard – When Jrue Holiday went down with a season ending injury the Pelicans seemingly had no life left. It wasn’t a good showing for them, but Anthony Davis was having a breakthrough year and continued while playing for Team USA in the summer. With Holiday and Eric Gordon healthy the Pelicans can contend in the West. Adding Asik puts Davis in the power forward spot to do even more damage.
Key Rookies: None
Key Acquisitions: G Jimmer Fredette (Chicago Bulls), F John Salmons (Toronto Raptors), C Omer Asik (Houston Rockets)
Starting Lineup: G Jrue Holiday, G Eric Gordon, F Tyreke Evans, F Anthony Davis, C Omer Asik
Head Coach: Rick Carlisle
Key Position: Small Forward – He wanted to get paid and did on a 3-year deal. Chandler Parsons now is going to be counted on to be the second or third scoring option for the Mavericks. If he does exactly what he did for the Rockets the last two years then Dallas will not regret paying him and they will make a division rival regret not keeping him.
Key Rookies: None
Key Acquisitions: G Jameer Nelson (Orlando Magic), F Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets), C Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), G Raymond Felton (New York Knicks)
Starting Lineup: G Jameer Nelson, G Monta Ellis, F Chandler Parsons, F Dirk Nowitzki, C Tyson Chandler
Head Coach: Kevin McHale
Key Position: Point Guard – Patrick Beverly is not a traditional point guard. He’s more of a slasher who plays off the ball. What he can do as the floor leader will interesting to see. You can be sure that James Harden’s assist totals will increase as well. Beverly is the lone starter at the point. He gets it by default as he is the better defender.
Key Rookies: C Clint Capela
Key Acquisitions: F Trevor Ariza (Washington Wizards), G Jason Terry (Sacramento Kings)
Starting Lineup: G Patrick Beverly, G James Harden, F Trevor Ariza, F Terrance Jones, C Dwight Howard
Head Coach: David Joerger
Key Position: Small Forward – This position will be in a constant rotation between Prince, Carter, Quincy Pondexter and Jordan Adams. That’s a good thing considering the Grizzlies were struggling to get production out of this position last year. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol can only do so much, but with Adams and Carter in the mix the Grizzlies have some options late in games.
Key Rookies: G Jordan Adams, F Jarnell Stokes
Key Acquisitions: G Vince Carter (Dallas Mavericks), F Zach Randolph (re-signed)
Starting Lineup: G Mike Conley, G Courtney Lee, F Tayshaun Prince, F Zach Randolph, C Marc Gasol