October 14, 2016 by Ell and Mike Sports
Ell’s NBA Divisional Rankings
Western Conference – Southwest Division
Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol
PG Patty Mills, SG/SF Manu Ginobili, SF Kyle Anderson, PF/C David Lee, C Dewayne Dedmon
PG/SG Dejounte Murray, SG Jonathon Simmons
The Spurs loss a future Hall of Famer and true professional in Tim Duncan, but they put pieces in place to pass the torch and 2 out of the big 3 are still intact in Tony Parker and Manu Gionbili. Tony Parker continues to provide a solid veteran presence and good perimeter D at this point, but he remains one of the best pick and roll guards in the league. Danny Green remains a reliable 3 and D player bringing solid perimeter defense. Kawhi Leonard developed into one of the best 2 way players in the league taking over the scoring and still bringing solid perimeter D with his long wingspan; it will be interesting to see if he can be even better. LaMarcus Aldridge continues to be one of the top offensive big men in the league with a nice mid-range touch; he will continue to put up solid numbers. The big addition was big man Pau Gasol who proved last season that he has a lot left in the tank of the offensive end, however his defense will be something to watch with Aldridge also lacking defensively. Patty Mills proved last season that he can start in spurts and continue to provide a nice offensive touch off the bench; he is the leader of 2nd unit. Manu Ginobili proved that he can still provide an offensive spark and provide some perimeter defense in spurts; however he was contemplating retirement and needs to stay healthy. Kyle Anderson continues to grow as a player who is good at a lot of things, but proved in the Summer League that he may be ready for a bigger role. Brining in veteran David Lee was another smart addition, as he really brought life to Mavericks lineup last season proving that he does still have something left in the tank. Dewayne Dedmon is a consistent big man who can play quality minutes in spurts, as he shown with the Magic; the Spurs may have a bigger role in mind for him. Combo guard Dejounte Murray was a 1st round pick considered a steal by most, he has solid playmaking ability and the ability to score; he seems to be more of a SG from his showing in the Summer League and should take Ginobili’s spot. Jonathon Simmons proved last season that he can be a solid contributor in limited minutes off the bench. The Spurs continue to have good coaching and a good foundation, but interior defense without Duncan can struggle; however, it will not keep them from winning the division again.
Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
PG Andrew Harrison, SG/SF Vince Carter, SF James Ennis, PF Zach Randolph, *C/PF Brandan Wright
PF Jarell Martin, SG/SF Jordan Adams, PF/C Deyonta Davis,
The Grizzlies paid a lot to bring back veteran Mike Conley who provides consistent play at the league’s most important position and he provides solid perimeter defense, but he will be expected to give even more. Tony Allen remains one of the best perimeter defenders and the league and valuable piece to what this team likes to do. Chandler Parsons was brought in via free agency on a big deal, he can score in spurts and really stretch the floor, but he needs to stay healthy. Zach Randolph remains a consistent bully in the paint who can be a double-double machine, despite limited athleticism; however, he struggled with injuries last season. Marc Gasol is one of the top big men in the league brining solid interior defense and a nice scoring touch; however, last season he got hurt in the midst of a big year. Andrew Harrison is ready to prove that he can handle backup point guard duties after a stint in the D-league and a good Summer League. Vince Carter continues to provide solid perimeter offense and consistency for the 2nd unit, despite losing most of his explosiveness. James Ennis was a Summer League star 2014 and 2015 leading to minutes with the Heat, but the Grizzlies have more minutes for him to grow. JaMychal Green proved in Randolph’s absence that he can carry the load inside; with Randolph’s return he is a valuable piece off the bench who could eventually replace Randolph. Brandan Wright is a veteran who provides good rebounding and offense in spurts. Jarell Martin is an athletic forward who also proved that he can handle a bigger role making the Grizzlies even more loaded inside. Deyonta Davis was a steal who the Grizzlies acquired via trade during the draft, he is known for providing a solid interior shot blocking presence. 1st round pick, PG Wade Baldwin IV is also on the roster, and could see minutes, if he develops and/or Harrison struggles. The Grizzlies bring back the same consistent lineup, with deeper pieces inside off the bench, but can they get a solid season out of Chandler Parsons and go deep in the playoffs?
Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela
PG Pablo Prigioni, SG Eric Gordon, SF/SG Corey Brewer, PF Montrezl Harrell, C/PF Nene Hilario
SG/SF K.J. McDaniels, PG Tyler Ennis
The Rockets could surprisingly take a step back with the loss of Dwight Howard, but more importantly by not upgrading the PG position for another season. Patrick Beverley is a solid perimeter defender, but continues to be too limited and inconsistent offensively. James Harden continues to be a solid scorer and a star in the league, but he will be asked to take on more playmaking duties under new Coach Mike D’Antoni. Trevor Ariza continues to be a consistent veteran two-way player who matches nicely with James Harden. Ryan Anderson was brought in via free agency to help space the floor with Harden and serve as a fix to a long term problem and rotation; he should fit well in this offense. Clint Capela proved last season that he can be a solid interior defender, despite being undersized for the position, but he needs to stay healthy. Pablo Prigioni continues to solid passing and floor leadership in spurts. Eric Gordon was brought in via free agency to provide instant offense, as one of the better one on one scorers in the league and good floor spacer. Corey Brewer is still a good athlete who can provide solid defense and offense in spurts. Montrezl Harrell is expected to grow in his 2nd season with more playing time and he has shown that he has a solid all-around game. Nene was brought in to help replace Dwight as a tough interior presence; he can still be a bully inside in spurts. K.J. McDaniels is an athletic young defender, who can score in spurts, but he needs to put it all together; he still has potential to be a starter eventually. Tyler Ennis was brought in via trade for veteran Michael Beasley who proved to be a solid comeback player. Ennis is a young PG with good passing skills and a lot of potential; he could work his way up this depth chart. The Rockets seem to be going for more offense and less defense, so it will be tough to keep up with or stop most teams in the West, but they should be exciting to watch under Coach D’Antoni.
Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bogut
PG J.J. Barea, PG/SG Devin Harris, SG/SF Justin Anderson, PF Dwight Powell, C Salah Mejri
SG/PG Seth Curry, C A.J. Hammons
The Mavericks continue to try to make moves to be a consistent playoff threat for the end of Dirk’s career, but have they done enough? Deron Williams continues to be an inconsistent playmaker at this point of his career, who can play solid two-way basketball in spurts. Wesley Matthews is a solid 3 and D player, who hasn’t really found his groove with the Mavs, but he needs to stay healthy. Harrison Barnes was a solid pickup as a solid glue guy who can provide good two-way play; it will be interesting to see what he can do with the ball in his hands more and the offense open to him. Dirk Nowitzki continues to be a solid veteran stretch 4 who at times slides down to the center spot as a stretch 5. However, that might not be needed as a free agent Andrew Bogut fell in their lap, as a solid interior presence and shot blocker inside who can score in spurts. J.J. Barea continues be a solid spark off the bench and a solid sixth man for the Mavs brining instant offense. Devin Harris is versatile combo-guard who plays solid perimeter defender finding a nice bench role with the Mavs over the years. Justin Anderson is an athletic, defensive wing man; he continues to grow and should eventually be a starter as a 3 and D player. Dwight Powell was a solid offensive big man early in the season, before falling out of the rotation; he should get another chance with the departure of David Lee and Charlie Villanueva. Salah Mejri proved that he can contribute in limited minutes; he will get a chance to earn even more minutes this season to prevent Dirk from playing the 5. Seth Curry continues to be an inconsistent scoring combo guard, he will have a chance to replace veteran Raymond Felton’s role. A.J. Hammons is defensive big man, who the Mavs selected in the 1st round; he should see minutes, as a player they really like. The Mavericks have a nice collection of veteran talent who fit the system under Coach Rick Carlisle, but it will be interesting to see, if Barnes can step up and earn his big payday taking this team farther than expected.
Tim Frazier, *Tyreke Evans, Dante Cunningham, Anthony Davis, Omer Asik
PG/SG E’Twaun Moore, SG Buddy Hield, SF Solomon HIll, PF Terrance Jones, C Alexis Ajinca
PG/SG Langston Galloway, SG/PG Lance Stephenson, *SF/ SG Quincy Poindexter
The Pelicans have a talented young roster around Anthony Davis, but injuries and overall chemistry will have them looking to find the right chemistry and lineup. Tim Frazier should take over the starting PG job, after a strong showing at the end of last season leading to the team to immediately re-sign him before the offseason. He is a good combo guard with a solid all-arond game. Tyreke Evans is still out on injury, but he remains a solid scorer and playmaker who the team desperately needs. Dante Cunningham proved last season that he can be a solid glue guy in the starting lineup who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work and he can score in spurts. However, solid free agent addition Solomon Hill was brought in from the Pacers who proved last season that he is an upcoming athletic forward with good versatility; he could see time in the starting lineup. Anthony Davis continues to be the franchise and a solid upcoming young big man who should contend for the MVP award, if he can stay healthy. Omer Asik continues to be a solid interior defender and rebounder, as a nice fit next to Davis. E’Twaun Moore was bought in via free agency after proving to be a solid spot starter with the Bulls; he should be able to get things moving if Frazier struggles. 1st round pick Buddy Hield proved that he can provide instant offense in the Summer League and that he continues to be a solid outside shooter, he should be able to provide a spark off the bench and may have to start with Evans out. Terrance Jones was a smart pick-up as a versatile forward, with a solid offensive game, but he needs to stay healthy. Alexis Ajinca proved that he can put up instant numbers in limited minutes, but he needs to polish his game and be more consistent. Langston Galloway was another pickup who proved to be a reliable guard with the Knicks, whether starting or coming off the bench. Lance Stephenson was a late free agent signing who continues to be inconsistent, but a versatile playmaker. Quincy Poindexter is a versatile wing man who is more of a 3 and D player, but he needs to stay healthy and he is currently injured. Jrue Holiday did the right thing of putting family 1st and is taking a leave of absence to take care of his wife; very classy move. The Pelicans will have growing pains, but they will be a fun team to watch; by the end of the season they should know which pieces fit and which ones should go.