San Antonio Spurs (62-20, NBA Champions):
Headline: After a Fifth Title, the Spurs Look to Repeat for the First Time Ever
Summary: It was finally San Antonio’s time last year as the Spurs rolled to a title in as dominating a fashion as you’ll ever see. The Spurs steamrolled their way to a title and look to be ready for another run. With the best coach in the league, as long as they stay healthy, there is no reason they can’t be celebrating in the Alamo city once again next June.
Overall Trend: Stable, as long as it stays healthy this is the best team in the league
Salary: $70.23M (over cap)
2015 NBA Draft Picks: Own both their own picks.
Biggest Addition: Kyle Anderson
Best Case: NBA Title. This team is constructed to do one thing, and that is win titles. They could certainly do so again.
Worst Case: First round. The Spurs are just a few injuries away from a short playoff trip next spring.
Most Likely Case: NBA Champions. I’ll give them the slightest of edges over the Cavs since they have experience as a team and the better coach.
Houston Rockets (54-28, lost in the first round to Portland):
Headline: Fresh off a Gutting Playoff Loss to Portland, the Rockets Look to Pick Up the Pieces and Move On
Summary: If you were to look up “absolutely horrific ways to lose a playoff series” in the dictionary, what happened to the Rockets would be right up there. Add to that a series that had already exposed an inferior coach and an offseason full of missed opportunities and you have a once promising Rockets team gone to shit quickly.
Overall Trend: Down, not only did they fall well short of their goal last year but they had a bad offseason to boot.
Salary: $66.49M (over cap)
2015 NBA Draft Picks: Owe their 2015 First Round Pick to the Lakers (Protected for Selections 1-14), owed New Orleans’s 2015 First Round Pick (Protected for Selections 1-3 and 20-30, New York’s 2015 Second Round Pick and Sacramento’s 2015 Second Round Pick (Protected for Selections 50-60). In addition, Minnesota will convey the less favorable of its own and Denver’s 2015 Second Round Picks to Houston.
Biggest Addition: Trevor Ariza
Losses: Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons
Best Case: West Finals. If the Rockets get incredibly lucky they could make a run to the West Finals, its hard to see it though.
Worst Case: Miss playoffs. The Rockets had next to no defense last year and now they have none. They could easily find themselves on the outside looking in.
Most Likely Case: First round. Houston is not as good a team as last year and the west is tougher. It’ll be a short trip but hopefully with a less painful ending than last year.
Memphis Grizzlies (50-32, lost in the first round to OKC):
Headline: Memphis Looks to Grind Its Way to the top of the West
Summary: Memphis didn’t get the breaks it got the previous year and so, as expected, it had a much earlier end to its season. Still, this team is, although not particularly exciting, very solid. A year older and wiser it remains to be seen if they can break out of the mess that is the trailing pack in the western conference.
Overall Trend: Stable. Replacing Miller with VC is probably a slight upgrade but its hard to imagine this team getting much better or worse.
Salary: $75.33M (over luxury tax threshold)
2015 NBA Draft Picks: Owe Cleveland their 2015 First Round Pick (Protected for Selections 1-5 and 15-30)
Biggest Addition: Vince Carter
Losses: Mike Miller, Ed Davis
Best Case: Western Conference Finals. The Grizzlies have enough talent and pose enough matchup problems to give a few teams fits in the playoffs. They could possibly pull a few playoff upsets before falling one step short of the finals.
Worst Case: Miss playoffs. The margin for error in the west is so tiny and the Grizzlies aren’t good enough that a few bad breaks and it could be lottery time for them.
Most Likely Case: First round. The Grizzlies are a good team, but they just appear to be a step below the western conference elite this season.
Dallas Mavericks (49-33, lost in the first round to San Antonio):
Headline: Dirk and Co Gear Up for One Last Run at a Second Title
Summary: Well, its once more into the breach for Dirk and the Mavericks it seems. Dallas had a solid season last year, making the playoffs in a year in which many thought they would once agian fall short. After a very good offseason, Dallas is certainly in contention for a deep playoff run.
Overall Trend: Up, Parsons is a great fit for the Mavs and their other additions are solid, provided Chandler stays healthy.
Salary: $68.24M (over cap)
2015 NBA Draft Picks: Own both their own picks.
Biggest Addition: Chandler Parsons
Losses: Vince Carter, DeJuan Blair, Shawn Marion, Jose Calderon
Best Case: Western conference finals. This is not a title contending team but they are certainly good enough to make a deep playoff run.
Worst Case: Just miss the playoffs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you are going to suck, you might as well really suck. The Mavericks could be the lottery team with the best record very easily this season, which would do them not much good.
Most Likely Case: First round. This is a playoff team but this is also a team that is a step behind the top few teams out west. It’ll be a short trip.
New Orleans Pelicans (34-48, missed playoffs):
Headline: New Orleans Looks to Break Into the Playoffs as Unibrow Leads the Way
Summary: New Orleans was better than their record last year, with a point differential of only -2.7. They always fought hard but just lacked the talent to get the job done too often. Well, a year older and wise and with a few new tools up their sleeves, the Pelicans are certainly headed in the right direction.
Overall Trend: Up, they quite aren’t a playoff team but they are significantly better than they were last season.
Salary: $75.24M (over luxury tax treshold)
2015 NBA Draft Picks: Owe their 2015 First Round Pick to Houston (Protected for Picks 1-3 and 20-30) and their 2015 Second Round Pick to Philadelphia.
Biggest Addition: Omer Asik
Losses: Al-Faroq Aminu, Alonzo Gee, Anthony Morrow.
Best Case: First round. This is unlikely but the Pelicans could surprise some people and make it all the way to the playoffs, before being easy cannon fodder once they get there.
Worst Case: Late lottery pick. They could be just good enough to miss the playoffs and end up with a late lottery pick,, which wouldn’t be too much help.
Most Likely Case: Miss the playoffs and finish 10th or 11th in the west. The Hornets are still a step behind a true playoff team and might come somewhat close, although not that close, to making the postseason.