The defending champs won't let down their championship drive after many Mavericks won their first title last season. Dirk Nowitzki will once again be a superstar force and an MVP candidate.
Owner Mark Cuban has some decisions to make in free agency, but you know he is willing to spend to compete.
Dallas will embrace being the hunted as NBA champs and will win this division over the Spurs.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are too good to fall to third in this division despite their first-round upset to the Grizzlies last season.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are still one of the best trios in the league, and all three play good defense. With Gregg Popovich's excellent coaching and several quality veterans who are still able to produce, the Spurs will once again be a top team in the West.
The Grizzlies nearly made it to the West Finals last season but lost in Game 7 of the semis to OKC. Memphis will carry that success into this season, and Zach Randolph will be a legitimate MVP candidate.
This team is full of young talent with Mike Conley Jr., O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay leading the offense. Their defense was good in the playoffs but must improve for them to take the next step as a team. Tony Allen was fourth in the NBA in steals per game last season. He must do that again.
The Rockets will be a better team this season, especially if they sign free-agent center Nene.
Unfortunately they play in the most competitive division in the NBA. Kevin Martin and Luis Scola must carry the team offensively, and defensively the Rockets need to be consistent in order to win games.
New Orleans Hornets
With the likelihood that Chris Paul will be traded, the Hornets will be a terrible team this season as his future will be a major distraction.
With David West almost certainly leaving the team in free agency, the Hornets have no interior scoring threat. West is also their second-best player.
With stars leaving and a lack of scoring other than Paul, the Hornets will really struggle this season.
|Team ||W ||L
|Dallas Mavericks ||44 ||22
|San Antonio Spurs ||40 ||26
|Memphis Grizzlies ||37 ||29
|Houston Rockets ||34 ||32
|New Orleans Hornets ||22 ||44