Blogtable: Up-and-comer in the West

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Rondo’s future | Rising in the West | Camp showdown

> Which team has made the biggest offseason leap in the West? How high can they go?

Steve Aschburner, Did San Antonio sweep the sidewalks and trim the hedges outside the AT&T Center? Winner! That’s plenty of improvement for the champs. … OK, I’ll play along. I would say Denver given the return to health of key guys (JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson), the emergence for Team USA of Kenneth Faried and the addition of Arron Afflalo. But the Nuggets overachieved through their setbacks last season, in my view, so their improvement might not be easily discerned in the standings. That’s why I’ll go with the trendy pick, New Orleans. Health matters to the Pelicans, too, and a crunch-time front line with Anthony Davis and Omer Asik protecting the rim could be as good as gargoyles on the glass, swatting away shots.

Anthony Davis' gold medal turn may pay dividends this season in New Orleans. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE)

Anthony Davis’ gold medal turn at the World Cup may pay dividends this season in New Orleans. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE)

Fran Blinebury, I’ve got an eye on the Mavericks. The addition of two Chandlers — Tyson and Parsons — could make them a threat. I don’t see Dallas as a championship contender, but if all breaks right the Mavs could make a run at a top four seed.

Jeff Caplan, The Mavericks added the most talent with center Tyson Chandler and small forward Chandler Parsons around Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. I really liked bringing in steady vet Jameer Nelson to run the point, eliminating them leaning heavily on Raymond Felton as a starter. That’s three new starters, which could mean some initial growing pains, but all these players are team-oriented, so it shouldn’t be too tough. They added some interesting depth with Al-Farouq Aminu and Richard Jefferson. They’ll miss Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, but both players are well past their primes. If they stay healthy, Dallas could push for a top-four spot.

Scott Howard-Cooper, The Nuggets or Pelicans. Denver won 36 games last season and now expects to get Danilo Gallinari back after he missed all 2013-14, JaVale McGee back after all of five appearances, and adds Arron Afflalo in trade and first-round picks Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris. That’s the possibility of three new starters and the certainty of much better depth. That’s worth the 12-14 extra wins it will take to make the playoffs. New Orleans won 34 and now not only gets Anthony Davis fast-tracking to stardom, but also Omer Asik next to him at center. Good luck scoring inside on the Pels. One of the keys is what they get from Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson coming off injuries.

John Schuhmann, Dallas has the potential to be a top-four team in the West with the additions it’s made. The Mavs already had an elite offense, which should be enhanced by the addition of Chandler Parsons. And Tyson Chandler and Al-Farouq Aminu should help them get back to being an above-average defensive team again. Rick Carlisle is a great coach, these guys gave the Spurs a scare in the first round, and Dirk Nowitzki still has some gas in the tank.

Sekou Smith, While I didn’t agree with all of the moves they made, there’s no question the Dallas Mavericks were the most fearless and aggressive outfit in the Western Conference during the offseason. Bringing back Tyson Chandler. Snatching Chandler Parsons. And doing it all while making sure Dirk Nowitzki remained on board and believing in the resurrection plan. That’s a master class on how to stay true to your core superstar while changing nearly everything else around him (not named Monta Ellis). The Mavericks will go as far as the new pieces will allow Dirk and Monta to go as the offensive catalysts for this bunch. No offense to Parsons, but the Mavericks didn’t need another superstar. They needed another role player with superstar potential willing to sacrifice all of his ambitions for the greater good, right now. I think they definitely put themselves back into the playoff mix in the Western Conference and somewhere far north of the No. 8 seed they earned last year.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: I really like what Dallas did this summer. As Mark Cuban pointed out yesterday, they’ve picked up six players who started for other teams last season. They got a rim protector in Tyson Chandler, they got wing scoring in Chandler Parsons, two point guards in Felton and Nelson, and they add all those guys to a core that already included Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. And having Rick Carlisle on the sideline is a pretty good way to bring them all together. Last year they were a lower playoff seed that in the first round gave San Antonio their toughest postseason test. This just feels like one of those teams people forget about … until it’s too late.


  1. Rangers says:

    Kings? Are you kidding me? Have fun in the bottom 3 seeds again. They’re terrible.
    Mavs/Lakers improved teams imo

  2. en. says:

    Tired of hearing about the mavs …..they won’t win it all so all the hype doesn’t matter

    • Mark Owens says:

      You seem upset who said they would win it all if anybody is being hype it’s the bulls the mavs definitely have the talent to make the western conference finals

  3. ko0kiE says:

    yes javale is back.. SHAQTIN A FOOL! 😀

  4. I’ll do an out-of-the-blue pick, the Sacramento Kings.

    How could the most dominant post player in the NBA possibly respond after winning a gold medal while learning leadership, teamwork, and humility? Now throw in his all-world athlete wingman who was there with him. Their chemistry and lessons learned could take this team to another level. These two guys have every physical ability and skill set to become stars and now they have gotten the mindset of one. They may take this team on their backs and challenge for a seeding in this year’s WC playoffs.

  5. austin says:

    No one will get past the two superpowers in the West, Spurs and OKC.

  6. Karlo Garcia says:

    My team Denver Nuggets is going to be an up-and-comer in the West. I believe that the 2014-15 NBA season will be a healthy season for us. Gallinari & Javale McGee will bounce back from there injuries. Plus Aaron Afflalo will add another depth. I expect Ty Lawson to improve & run this team,Faried will be better after the FIBA World Cup success & his post play will elevate, J.J Hickson will be a beast on the offensive/defensive rebounding position, Mozgov should continue to improve but his minutes will be questioned & the bench should also have there moments.

  7. wheresthabeet? says:

    Dallas and New Orleans.

  8. Marco29 says:

    Mavs definitely had a great offseason, Denver is getting some key elements back and Pelicans seem to be on the rise.
    But, will it be sufficient to get a higher seed for Dallas or even make the playoffs for Denver and New Orleans?
    For that, it would mean some of the powerhouses would need to fall and none has gotten really weaker.
    Spurs, OKC (with some challenges), Clippers, GSW, Memphis and Portland are doing fine. Houston is the question mark but they are still a playoff team even if it will be difficult for them to stay in the top half. Mavs could benefit from it but so could Portland, GSW or Memphis. I guess, Mavs would improve but still be between 5 and 8 seed.
    West is so packed that even if they have better records than last year it will be very difficult for Denver and New Orleans to make the playoffs because Phoenix is also a contender so there are about 5 teams that could all have winning records fighting for the 2 last spots.
    With so many good teams in the West, things will be very diffcult for Lakers, Kings, Jazz and Wolwes who will pill up losses and the inter-conference games who will be even less balanced as they were.
    When is the NBA going to change the playoff format and integrate the 16 best teams regardless of conferences?

  9. William Bryant says:

    Every body sleeping on Portland

  10. Roger Tornga says:

    I’m glad you said it, vicious bucking horse. One of the worst tragedies in coaching was when Stan Van Grumpy benched Alston for the finals in favor of Nelson, who had been injured during the whole playoffs. Yet, folks keep touting Van Grumpy like he’s a magician. He may have coached for the Magic, but his situational decisions are bad magic. Detroit may improve, but they’ll not ride all the way to a championship with Stan at the helm.

    • TTKIN says:

      I suppose it’s fine to hire Stan as your coach…makes no sense to me at all why they basically gave him the keys to the franchise. Dude has never won a title but theyre giving him total control over their team.

  11. jake s. says:

    Mavs have 3 guys that can get it done. That is it. Mavs are too old to keep up with OKC and too sparse to defend San Antonio. Mavs will always be a scoring juggernaut, but until they can preach defense, Tyson isn’t going to be enough to justify a Dallas team that makes it to the WCF.

  12. Unkle Daddy says:

    I would love to see my Spurs do it, again. If there was another team that I wouldn’t be upset about winning this year it would be Dallas. People seem to say your only justified if you win more than one title, but I think if your the best player on a team that wins the championship, you are more than justified. You were the best in the game at that moment. So, Dallas if you somehow out last or beat my boys, you better win it all, because nobody I like in the east is winning it all anytime soon.

  13. dustydreamnz says:

    I think the Cavs and Mavs won’t do as well as most predict due to chemistry issues. Maybe next season though.

  14. Max says:

    Mavs will make the Western Conference playoffs, BUT do not think they can top the “OLD” Spurs! OKC? Same, Clippers should be a little better, Rockets?? Coach not tough enough on the Rockets and Howard???? sometimes ok and other times not present. East? Cavs making a great push, but Wizards are going to be up in the top 4. Get rid of Conferences and just let the best two NBA Teams play for the Championship!!~~

  15. TEG says:

    sorry but I’m not buying those Mavs. I’ve said that before and I’ll keep saying it. that bench does not impress me at all.
    so while people are thinking they could be a top 4 team or whatever, I’ll be one of the “minority” saying it would not surprise me if they MISS the playoffs.

    also, I’ll keep saying that the Nuggets will be something keep watch on. they just can hit the injury bug like they did last season.

    • TEG says:

      I meant to say “can’t” not “can” (on the injury bug).
      also I wouldn’t sleep on the Pelicans, I thought they might have had a shot at playoffs last season but they had injury problems too, specifically when they lost Ryan Anderson.

    • Mark Owens says:

      How many times do I have to school you on this topic if you think Dallas will miss the playoffs you’re crazy Dirk was hurt that’s why we missed the playoffs in 2013 other then that when he’s healthy we are a perfect 13 for 13 there bench is fine we lost Vince Carter ok remember people were saying the same thing when we lost Jason Terry what happened we led the league in bench points that following season this mavs team has the talent to make it to the wcf

  16. Marcus says:

    The Mavericks made a lot of noise this offseason, but everyone’s been talking about the Cavs. Yes, the Mavs have a lot of new pieces, but Rick Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the league and should be able to manage them.

    I still don’t understand why they got rid of Chandler in the first place, but at least Mark Cuban owned up to his mistake and got him back. They should definitely make the playoffs again this year, but this time I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they were in the top half (seeds 1-4).

    I can only imagine how opposing coaches plan to stop the Mavs offense. Parsons can shoot from 3 finish in transition. Monta Ellis is explosive. Chandler cleans up at the rim with his offensive tapbacks. And Dirk is unguardable.

  17. Arber Hasangjekaj says:

    I agree with Fran Blinebury. Chandler Parsons is a great guard that can shoot the 3 ball. Tyson Chandler coming back from the Knicks will be a great addition to the team. He won a title with the Mavericks back in 2011. I wouldn’t be surprised if he can win another title with the Mavericks again.

  18. krespino says:

    The Mavs roster is impressive in terms of experience and talent, except at point guard position. When you are playing at the conference finals Jameer Nelson
    and Stuckey won’t cut it.

    • JP says:

      It’s Felton not stuckey. But I would look at it as a good problem to have with 2 starting PGs plus Devin Harris off the bench. And if Felton does not work out, they could trade him for a better chip to help the team come playoff time.

      • krespino says:

        I had Raymond Felton in mind but somehow wrote Rodney Stuckey. Devin Harris is probably better than both of them but I think all three would definitely be far from being top-10 PG, even top 15 would be questionable. When they’re playing Westbrook or Chris Paul or Parker they’re losing the game there. Nelson and Felton started in insignificant teams which achieved no success, the only time the Orlando Magic reached the NBA finals it wasn’t Nelson who played the playoffs it was Aaron Brooks, Nelson came back from injury and played in the finals series but was not good. And I can’t see that anybody can get anything useful using overweight Felton as trade bait. If Cuban somehow can get hold of Rondo then they cam upset any team in a series I believe.

      • vicious bucking horse says:

        @krespino I think you meant Rafer Alston was starting for Orlando that time. anyway, that was a bonehead decision to start Nelson in the finals instead of Alston who was playing great that playoffs.