Detroit aside, every team in the East is a project. Miami is too old, New Jersey is too small, Cleveland needs four new players. There are no master plans in the works here, no insightful vision for three or four years into the future. I see three GM's trying to work a lot of high cost chaotic off-season guess and check. Throw Hughes, Jones and Marshall with James, see what happens. Throw Williams, Payton, Posey and Mourning with Shaq and Wade, see what happens. I guarantee that Joe Dumars doesn't exactly lose sleep over the actions of his front office competitors. Honestly, some one please tell me how any of these teams challenges the Pistons next year. It's just not happening, which is just plain boring. These are groups of players, they're not teams. Individual talent aside, they're about as fun to watch as a bag of Dick's brand swim goggles.
But the West, well the West is getting awesome. In a good year, we get two championship caliber teams in the same conference. This leads to an almost certain clash of the two real titans in the conference finals. In recent memory we've had Lakers-Trailblazers, Lakers-Kings (my favorite), Lakers-Spurs. So, pretty much lots of Lakers. My point is that this is an extremely exciting time to be an NBA basketball fan. Because all of these four teams are going to get better. A lot better.
Dallas - It took them long enough, but they finally got the right mix of pieces to stick with long-term. And, on a general side note, it takes time for players to get used to each other, form chemistry, etc. Are you listening yet, Mark Cuban? This group is finally comfortable with each other, finally has an identity, is young, unselfish, well-coached and extremely athletic. And, by the way, have you seen Devin Harris and Josh Howard in this series? Howard's going to be an All-Star, and you can take that one to the bank. But Harris, my God. If your’e not a Mavericks fan, the appropriate response is "holy f***in shit!" And you know that one of the African imports is going to amount to something, at least a strong shot blocking presence. Not that this team is going to be in need of scoring. Plus, I love their role players, specifically Stackhouse and Daniels, and not Van Horn. I repeat, NOT Van Horn. Eidn't we already try this with Walker and Jamison? Oy. Regardless, Dallas has 8 players that fit very well in a system that maximizes their talents. Three of these players are going to make large improvements. Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, the Mavericks are just scratching the surface.
San Antonio – The Spurs are getting a little bit on the old and wrinkly side. That being said, their two best players are still in the middle of their primes and they will be healthy some day. To throw a little theory of mine at you here: I’m sure that Manu Ginobili had a lot of nagging injuries this year, but, to cut to the chase, I think he kind of dogged the season. Aside from the complete lack of effort, I cite the fact that he clearly hasn’t been in the weight room for at least a year. He’s always been skinny, but now his arms look like sticks. And I do think a little understanding is in order. The man just won 2 NBA Championships, a World Championship and Olympic Championship, and probably some other stuff, too. He’s got to be downright exhausted. And changing paces, Tony Parker is disgusting. If he ever gets confidence in his jump shot, he’ll be Michael Jordan-level unguardable. A healthy Duncan and Ginobili with Tony Parker as the team’s best player is pretty scary. And I’m not really concerned with the long term prospects of their other players. Bowen will stick around, and Popovich will figure out the rest.