The Sports Report

A Statistical Take on Sports and Politics

2008 NBA Draft Recap and Early Projections: Part Four

Western Conference – Southwest Division

New Orleans (56-26, #2 in conference and lost in seven games in the Conference Semifinals)
Cash considerations from Portland

Traded away the #27 selection in the draft, Darrell Arthur out of Kansas, to Portland for cash considerations.

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Chris Paul, SG Morris Peterson, SF Peja Stojakovic, PF David West, C Tyson Chandler, PG Mike James, SF Julian Wright, and SF Rasual Butler. Key unrestricted free agents include F/C Chris Anderson, PF Ryan Bowen, PG Jannero Pargo, and SF Bonzi Wells.

Report Card: Chris Paul is a great point guard, and they have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA with Peja, West, and Chandler. The only thing that worries me is that 2007-2008 seems like the ceiling for this group of guys, and Peja is not getting any younger. If they are to ever win an NBA championship, they will need Jannero Pargo to re-sign, and hope for continued improvement from Julian Wright. Their bunch is very weak, and an injury could push them back a slot or two in the conference in no time at all. For now, the median range for them is probably the #4 seed. Projection: #2 in Southwest Division, #4 in West, between 52-56 wins.

San Antonio (56-26, #3 in conference and lost in five games in the Conference Finals)
The #26 selection in the draft (George Hill out of IUPUI)
The #48 selection in the draft from Phoenix (Malik Hairston out of Oregon)
The #57 selection in the draft (James Gist out of Maryland)
A future second round pick from Phoenix
Cash considerations from Phoenix

Traded away the #45 selection in the draft, Goran Dragic out of Slovenia, to Phoenix for Hairston, a future second round pick and cash considerations.

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Tony Parker, SG Manu Ginobili, SF Bruce Bowen, PF Fabricio Oberto, C Tim Duncan, PG Roger Mason (expected to be signed away from Washington,) SF Ime Udoka, and PF Matt Bonner. Key unrestricted free agents include SG Brent Barry, SF Michael Finley, PF Robert Horry, PG Damon Stoudamire, G/F DeMarr Johnson, and C Kurt Thomas.

Report Card: You can never really argue against the Spurs. San Antonio will be a consistent powerhouse in the Western conference for several more years. Tim Duncan turned 32 in April, but is still a top-10 player in the league according to my rating numbers. Manu Ginobili is one of the most efficient players in the game, and played the least number of minutes per game out of the top 12 in my rating. Tony Parker attacks the rim consistently, and with Roger Mason backing him up, will be even more potent this coming season. Houston, and New Orleans have more upside, but San Antonio will always be there, waiting in the playoffs. Projection: #3 in Southwest Division, #5 in West, between 49-53 wins.

Houston (55-27, #5 in conference and lost in six games in the first round)
The #28 selection in the draft from Memphis (Donte Greene out of Syracuse)
The #33 selection in the draft from Portland (Joey Dorsey out of Memphis)
The #54 selection in the draft (Maarty Leunen out of Oregon)
Memphis’ second round pick in 2009

Traded away the #25 selection in the draft, Nicolaus Batum out of France, to Portland for Dorsey, and the #27 selection in the draft, Darrell Arthur out of Kansas. They then proceeded to trade away Arthur to Memphis for the #28 selection in the draft, Donte Greene out of Syracuse, and Memphis’ second round pick in 2009.

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Rafer Alston, SG Tracy McGrady, SF Shane Battier, PF Luis Scola, C Yao Ming, SG Luther Head, and PF Chuck Hayes. PF Carl Landry is a restricted free agent, while F Mike Harris, and C Loren Woods have limited salary protection.

Report Card: There is only one priority for the Houston Rockets this off-season, and that is to resign Carl Landry. Landry was one of the most efficient youngsters in the NBA last season, and should improve with additional playing time. A healthy Yao Ming is always dangerous, and this is the same team that pulled off a ridiculous winning streak to finish within two games of the conference regular season championship. Past post-season failures be damned, Houston will contend for the Western Conference title next year every step of the way. Joey Dorsey is a great value pick, and I can’t wait to see him, and Yao Ming on the court at the same time. Greene is a project, but is a nice long-term fit for the franchise. Projection: #1 in Southwest Division, #2 in West, between 54-58 wins.

Dallas (51-31, #7 in conference and lost in five games in the first round)
The #51 selection in the draft (Shan Foster out of Vanderbilt)

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Jason Kidd, SG Jason Terry, SF Josh Howard, PF Dirk Nowitzki, C DeSagana Diop (expected to be signed away from New Jersey), SG Jerry Stackhouse, and C Erick Dampier. Key unrestricted free agents include PF Malik Allen, SF Devean George, PF Juwan Howard, PG Tyronn Lue, C Jamaal Magloire, and SG Antoine Wright, while PG Jose Juan Barea (agreed to terms with Dallas) is a restricted free agent, and PF Brandon Bass has limited salary protection.

Report Card: Dallas was 35-18 (.660 winning percentage) without Jason Kidd last season, and 16-13 with him on the team (.552 winning percentage). In a tough Western Conference, without much youth, or upside to think of, I can’t imagine Dallas being in the playoffs. Their years of being a juggernaut are over, and I still cannot believe that they brought DeSagana Diop with their mid-level exception. Dirk Nowitzki, and Josh Howard are both rather talented NBA players, but Jason Kidd was the glue to this team for so long, and his departure sucked the life out of the Mavericks late last season. Portland, and Phoenix are clearly better, and I still think the improving LA Clippers have the edge currently over them as well. Projection: #4 in Southwest Division, #9 in West, between 40-44 wins.

Memphis (22-60, T-#13 in conference and twenty-eight games out of the playoffs)
The #3 selection in the draft from Minnesota (O.J. Mayo out of USC)
The #27 selection in the draft from Houston (Darrell Arthur out of Kansas)
PG Marko Jaric from Minnesota
F Antoine Walker from Minnesota
SF Greg Buckner from Minnesota

Traded away the #5 selection in the draft, Kevin Love out of UCLA, along with SF Mike Miller, PF Brian Cardinal and C Jason Collins, to Minnesota for Mayo, Jaric, Walker and Buckner. Traded away the #28 selection in the draft, Donte Greene out of Syracuse, along with their second round pick in 2009, to Houston for Arthur.

Star contributors on the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Mike Conley, SG O.J. Mayo, SF Rudy Gay, PF Hakim Warrick, C Darko Milicic, C Marc Gasol, PG Javaris Crittenton, and PG Kyle Lowry. Key unrestricted free agents include PF Andre Brown, C Kwame Brown, and SF Casey Jacobsen, while PG Juan Carlos Navarro (agreed to terms with FC Barcelona) is a restricted free agent.

Report Card: Check out this link if you want to be shown how the Memphis organization is moving in the right direction. I don’t particularly care for that post, however, because I do not see how a team without an actual lineup will start improving this season. Yes, Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, and one of other point guards are great pieces for the franchise long-term. Everyone else could be easily replaced, and until I see some actual evidence to show that those three can become All-Stars in the NBA, Memphis does not have a shot at competing. I have Seattle/Oklahoma as the #14 seed ahead of Memphis, because I like their frontcourt more in Collison/Wilcox, and they have a more regular looking lineup. Projection: #5 in Southwest Division, #15 in West, between 23-27 wins.

Projected 2008-2009 Western Conference Standings

Northwest Division
Utah (3): between 53-57 wins (54 wins, #4)
Portland (6): between 45-49 wins (41 wins, #10)
Denver (10): between 39-43 wins (50 wins, #8)
Minnesota (11): between 35-39 wins (22 wins, T-#13)
Seattle (14): between 25-29 wins (20 wins, #15)
Pacific Division
LA Lakers (1): between 58-62 wins (57 wins, #1)
Phoenix (7): between 43-47 wins (55 wins, #6)
LA Clippers (8): between 42-46 wins (23 wins, #12)
Golden State (12): between 33-37 wins (48 wins, #9)
Sacramento (13): between 27-31 wins (38 wins, #11)
Southwest Division
Houston (2): between 54-58 wins (55 wins, #5)
New Orleans (4): between 52-56 wins (56 wins, #2)
San Antonio (5): between 49-53 wins (56 wins #3)
Dallas (9): between 40-44 wins (51 wins, #7)
Memphis (15): between 23-27 wins (22 wins, T-#13)

All-Conference Awards
Most Surprising Team: Portland Trailblazers (jump from #10 to #6)
Most Disappointing Team: Golden State Warriors (fall from #9 to #12)
Most Valuable Player: Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns (take this 25-and-a-half-year-old off the Suns, and they don’t win 35 games)
Rookie of the Year: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves (will be great alongside Al Jefferson for years to come. As Akron Aeros Director of Media Relations Rob Sinclair said, maybe Memphis ended the (Rudy) Gay-Love era way too soon.)
Most Improved Player: Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers (with additional media exposure, and Baron Davis to pass the ball to him, this caveman of a basketball player will be a new sensation)
Most Likely to Be Overrated: Kevin Durant, Seattle Supersonics (if I told you the star of your franchise shot 43.0% from the field, while attempting 23.7 shots, having 4.0 turnovers, and 3.2 assists per forty-eight minutes, would you be concerned?)
Most Likely to Be Underrated: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets (one of the best point guards of the last twenty years, without a doubt in my mind)

Note: The total wins I have projected for the Western Conference in these very early projections, are equal to the total number of wins accumulated by the Conference last season. Last year, the Eastern Conference won 258 out of the 450 inter-conference games played (a winning percentage of 0.573). While I do believe that the Eastern Conference may in fact be a little better this year because of the developing talent on a lot of teams, in comparison to the aging talent on teams out West (such as Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas, etc.,) the period for adjusting that will be when I do my in-depth projections of the NBA in October. June/July is way too early to definitively say the Eastern Conference will be improved, and thus the win total stays the same.

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July 10, 2008 - Posted by | NBA Draft | , ,

5 Comments »

  1. GS and Denver slips to right around .500 I agree with. Dallas and Phoenix predicted a bit above .500, odds are one is right. Maybe both or none, depends on whether the coaching takes.

    Sacramento slip back somewhat supported by last season’s win total exceeding expected wins.

    Wolves will move forward but I don’t see it by that much.

    Comment by Mountain | August 22, 2008 | Reply

  2. I just don’t see anybody else being better than Minnesota in the lower tier of the Western Conference. They have a lot of pieces in place, with Mike Miller, Kevin Love, Rashad McCants, and Randy Foye, and are led by one of the best young players in the game, Al Jefferson. This is one of the better core units of young players in the game, and I think the sole acquisition of Miller propels them from the cellar of the West, to within eight games or so of the playoffs at least. They are a better team this year, but are not to the point of being playoff contenders just yet.

    Even with all of the offseason movement that has already happened, I would stand by my initial predicition of LA Lakers being one, Houston 2, Utah 3, and New Orleans 4. San Antonio might slip down to 6, below Portland, and I think Dallas might be in a much better situation to potentially make the playoffs since the Clippers failed to resign Elton Brand.

    Comment by Jacob Rosen | August 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. Interesting read, enjoyed that.

    The Minnesota pick popped out at me too. I consider them ahead of Seattle and Memphis but not Sacramento or GSW. I’m not as optimistic or high on the talents on of their young core outside of Jefferson-Love.

    Comment by Dave | August 23, 2008 | Reply

  4. Thanks for posting comments!

    Sacramento has failed to do anything impressive in an effort to rebuild their franchise. Kevin Martin is a very elite scorer, but outside of him, they are incredibly weak. Beno Udrih is average at best, and the remaining key players Brad Miller, Francisco Garcia, and John Salmons are not enough to bring them anywhere near contention. Losing Artest, and wasting a high-end first round draft pick on Jason Thompson will hurt the Kings this year, and for many years down the road.

    Golden State has become a very different team now without Baron Davis. They only have three players on roster older than 25 years old (Stephen Jackson is 30, while both Al Harrington, and Corey Maggette are 28,) and are they are now counting on combo guard Monta Ellis to lead their future. Ellis has been one of the more impressive players in terms of increased production in each of the last two seasons, but I doubt he will be able to mimic the role of Baron Davis in the Warriors offensive scheme. Additional playing time for youngsters Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph, Marco Belinelli, or any of their other recent draft picks will mean more mistakes and less wins for Golden State this season.

    Feel free to e-mail me at mandy25505@yahoo.com if you are interested in signing up for the e-mail version of The Sports Report.

    Comment by Jacob Rosen | August 23, 2008 | Reply

  5. Well, I was way off on the Chris Kaman and Kevin Durant projections… But more in that in an upcoming feature.

    The one good prediction I did make, however, is about those Minnesota Timberwolves. While 35-39 wins may still be a slight stretch because of the strength of the top 9 amazing teams in the West, they are red-hot right now. Since starting the season as one of the worst in the NBA at 4-23 with a loss to San Antonio on December 23rd, they are 12-4 since then. I think that unofficially makes them the best team thus far in 2009, and probably have the best record since that date. Al Jefferson is developing into one of the best players in the NBA, Kevin Love has underrated written all over him, and thus far in 2009 Randy Foye is averaging 19.1 points and 4.7 assists per game.

    Watch out for them next season, as I think with one more addition and another lottery draft pick they could easily pass aging Dallas and Phoenix out West.

    Comment by Jacob Rosen | January 28, 2009 | Reply


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