Saturday, September 16, 2006

Seventh Best in the West

(Boulder-CO) On a sleepy Saturday I wouldn’t expect much to be brewing in the land of NBA, but there is a little article out there right now on ESPN that is baffling to me to say the least. Marc Stein has produced a list of how he feels that the teams in the Western Conference stack up according to their off season wheeling and dealing and he only puts the Nuggets at seventh overall.

Ahead of the Nuggets are the New Orleans Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and the Houston Rockets. He states that this isn’t a list generated on how good these respected teams are going to do in the upcoming season, but still how he rationalizes this list is beyond me. Let me explain…

So the best moves made in the entire Western Conference were made by the New Orleans Hornets according to Stein. He states that with the overpaying of Peja Stojakovic, Tyson Chandler, and an aging Bobby Jackson the Hornets are poised to spend even more money next season with their available cap room. Well, in my assessment, the Hornets are going to need it because they will be going no where fast with any of those acquisitions. Chris Paul will have to be the second coming of Isiah Thomas in his prime if New Orleans is going to make the playoffs. Last year’s record of 38-44 will be not too far off from where I feel that the Hornets will finish in 2007, again.

Next up, is the Dallas Mavericks. Stein writes that the Mavericks were wise in landing Austin Croshere, Anthony Johnson, Devean George, and the ex-Denver Nugget Greg Buckner. He also states that the resigning of J-Terry and the pending signature of Dirk are positive as well. While I will not argue the position of the aforementioned two, I will say that Greg Buckner has little to no shot at contributing to this team. Buckner is a defensive minded shooting guard who will not squeak many minutes with the young Harris and amazing Terry filling out the back court. Devean George brings championship experience. As for the rest of the guys listed, Dallas made some good moves. They definitely deserve some props.

Following the Mavericks in the third position are the San Antonio Spurs. If Stein thinks for one second that the following list of players are going to make the Spurs improve on their last season’s mark of 63-19. He is absolutely the most optimistic person, or biggest Spurs fan, I have ever read an article authored by. San Antonio lost two of its centers this off season in Rasho Nesterovic and Nazr Mohammed and picked up nobody to fill the void. The Spurs managed to pick up Francisco Elson, (cough cough), Matt Bonner, Eric Williams, Jacque Vaughn, and Jackie Butler. Francisco Elson is the biggest 7-foot cupcake in the game and I couldn’t of been happier to see him off the Nuggets. He blocks no shots, has no game in the blocks, and defends like George Gervin. The only problem is he doesn’t score like Ice! How the Spurs are going to improve is beyond me and does anyone else remember a few years ago when Vaughn kept blowing all those wide open lay-ups? Sheesh, I don’t know what Stein was looking at.

Fourth on the list, and just as confusing are the Los Angeles Clippers. Other than re-signing Cassell, all the Clip-Show could muster up was the addition of Tim Thomas. They managed to keep a few pieces from last year’s historic run on the roster, but other than that didn’t do much. Why this is such an upgrade I must have missed, but even Stein states that not extending Coach Dunleavy’s contract is sketchy. The Clippers will make the playoffs again, I do not doubt that, but I’m hoping that the Nuggets get a chance to redeem themselves. They have unfinished business that starts on opening night.

With one of the only guys in the league that I would pay to watch in Jason Richardson the next team on the list is Golden State. The Warriors went 34-48 last season and lost Derek Fisher this summer. Their only move was to bring in ex-Maverick Coach Don Nelson. I love Don Nelson, but give it a rest, huh? D-Nels isn’t working with Dirky and this isn’t Dallas. This team made no changes, got no one, and is going no where. Have a nice year at the bottom of the division again! What Stein was conjuring up on this one… Ah forget it, this pick is an abomination and how they had a better off season than the Nuggets I don’t even want to know. Unless Chris Mullin comes out of retirement and averages 25 points a night this team is whack. Look for J-Rich on Sports Center, other than that, don’t waste your ticket money.

Finally, the last team that Marc Stein feels had a more productive summer than the Nuggets were the Houston Rockets. The Rockets traded Rudy Gay away for the services of Shane Battier. Battier is an upgrade for the Rockets. He gives them a coagulation factor that is priceless. How much he contributes in the stat column will be the true measuring stick of how great of an idea it was to trade away the promise of Rudy Gay. Rounding out their new roster is Greek point guard Vassilis Spanoulis. Spanoulis is a great floor general, as we all saw in USA’s defeat in the FIBA games, but his transition to the NBA will be rocky. Finally, they also picked up long shot, second round pick, Steve Novak. All these moves are fine, but what leaves me puzzled is Stein puts more emphasis on the health of Yao Ming and T-Mac than he does the additions the Rockets made. I thought this was a list forecasting how the off season maneuvers were going to affect the team, not the health of its superstars. Once again, Nuggets fans see my point. Battier is good, and that is about it. How this team had a better summer is hard to fathom.

I could go into all the things the Nuggets have done this off season, but I don’t feel like beating a dead horse. Check the archives if you need some refreshing. The Nuggets have reorganized the front office, solidified one of the most intimidating front lines in the league, and are still probably not done making moves. When all is said and done I am glad to be a Nuggets fan. This season is going to be a brand new look for the Nuggets. A look that I feel could only be an improvement, and isn’t that what it’s all about when measuring how good your off season was?

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