Assuming Lin's small sample size and Asik's limited role were honest representations of their talent, Houston has the bookends of their rebuild in place. I doubt that will placate many fans, but it is more than we can say for the bottom feeders in most divisions. I'm a "potential" hater, but out of four 1st round rookies in 2013 and a slew of picks coming in 2014 the Rockets are bound to find something of value.
Weird offseason, but let's see how this plays out.
Dallas grades out as the best defensive team in the NBA. It is hard for me to view Nowitzki, Kaman, and Brand as the ultimate defensive frontcourt, but RAPM sure seems to think so (Brand at least has the rep and looks like a great defender using counterpart measures as well... same goes for Vince) The potency of Dallas' defense really isn't important in the big picture though, because their offense is tied for the worst in the West. A +2.4 differential may get you into the playoffs back East, but that isn't going to cut it in the Western conference.
Maybe it is silly giving a 19 year old rookie a star, but I am a believer in Anthony Davis. I felt equally justified in pegging Rivers at 3.5 standard deviation below the average player. I could be wrong on either count, but I like my odds.
The Hornets were really bad last season, but they added Davis, Anderson, Lopez, and *Gordon* this offseason. That is a ton of talent. Add that to solid role players Aminu and Jason Smith and you have a legitimate basketball team. If Davis is what I think he is, this team is well positioned to claim the Southwest from the Spurs in a couple of years.
The Grizzlies project to play defense at nearly the same level as the Mavericks, but they complement it with slightly above average offense. Memphis didn't make any significant changes after last season, but they really didn't need to. They let Mayo leave, picked up Bayless, and most importantly will have Randolph around for the entire season. I currently have them pegged as the #4 seed in the West.
There is an age adjustment in this model, and it is quite harsh on older players. However, San Antonio's old-man trio still comes out looking unstoppable. They just won't go away. Not much to say here... Tiago Splitter starting to match his initial billing. Kawhi surprisingly porous defensively for his rep, but not for his age... Otherwise, it is just the same old Spurs. Tony, Tim, and Manu having their way with the rest of the NBA for at least one more year.
Next up: The Pacific Division