By The Associated Press
November 16, 2012
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
LAST SEASON: 50-16, lost to Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2 in Western Conference finals.
STARTING FIVE: F Tim Duncan (15.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 2.3 apg), C Boris Diaw (4.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.4 apg), F Kawhi Leonard (7.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.3 spg), G Danny Green (9.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.4 apg), G Tony Parker (18.3 ppg, 7.7 apg, 2.9 rpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Nando De Colo (draft).
KEY LOSSES: None.
COACH: Gregg Popovich, 17th season overall; 847-399
EYES ON: Parker — and, no, that’s not a crack about the left eye he nearly lost in a nightclub fight. The Spurs have learned to survive waning production from Duncan and Ginobili, but that makes another All-Star caliber season from Parker almost essential.
OUTLOOK: The Spurs have finished with the best record in the West the past two seasons. Not having a championship to show for it doesn’t make the tired predictions of them being too old to contend any less lazy or wrong. Getting past the Lakers or Thunder is a long shot, but the Spurs will be in the mix again come April.
LAST SEASON: 41-25, lost to Los Angeles Clippers 4-3 in first round.
STARTING FIVE: G Mike Conley (12.7 ppg, 6.4 apg, 2.19 spg), G Tony Allen (9.8 ppg, 4 rpg, 1.79 apg), F Rudy Gay (19.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.79 spg), F Zach Randolph (11.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.79 apg), C Marc Gasol (14.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.8 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Jerryd Bayless (free agent, Raptors), G Wayne Ellington (trade, Timberwolves), G Tony Wroten (draft, No. 25).
KEY LOSSES: G O.J. Mayo (free agent, Mavericks), F Dante Cunningham (trade, Timberwolves).
COACH: Lionel Hollins, fourth season with Grizzlies, fifth season overall; 158-175.
EYES ON: Gay. He turned in career numbers during the lockout-shortened season, only to struggle in games during the playoff loss to the Clippers.
OUTLOOK: The Grizzlies are eager to have everyone healthy for an entire season and for the playoffs. They hope they’ve added much-needed outside scoring to prevent teams from collapsing on Gasol and Randolph, which they believe can help them make a deep postseason run.
LAST SEASON: 36-30, lost to Oklahoma City 4-0 in first round.
STARTING FIVE: F Dirk Nowitzki (21.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg), F Shawn Marion (10.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.1 apg), G Darren Collison (10.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.8 apg), G O.J. Mayo (12.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.6 apg), C Chris Kaman (13.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.1 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Elton Brand (amnesty waiver claim, Philadelphia), G Collison (trade, Indiana), G/F Dahntay Jones (trade, Indiana), C Kaman (free agent, New Orleans), G Mayo (free agent, Memphis).
KEY LOSSES: G Jason Terry (free agent, Celtics), G Jason Kidd (free agent, Knicks), C Brendan Haywood (amnesty waiver, Bobcats).
COACH: Rick Carlisle, fifth season with Mavericks, 11th season overall; 479-325.
EYES ON: Nowitzki’s knee. The perennial All-Star is likely out until at least mid-November recovering from arthroscopic right knee surgery. Then, how will the 34-year-old respond?
OUTLOOK: With so many new pieces, including two new guards, and most players on short-term deals, the Mavericks could already be thinking about next offseason.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
LAST SEASON: 21-45, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Eric Gordon (20.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.4 apg), G Greivis Vasquez (8.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.4 apg), F Al-Farouq Aminu (6.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.0 apg), F Anthony Davis (rookie), C Robin Lopez (5.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 0.3 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: Davis (draft), Lopez (trade, Suns), F Ryan Anderson (trade, Orlando), G Austin Rivers (draft), F Hakim Warrick (trade, Suns), F Darius Miller (draft), G Roger Mason Jr. (free agent, Wizards)
KEY LOSSES: C Emeka Okafor (trade, Wizards), G Jarrett Jack (trade, Warriors), Trevor Ariza (trade, Wizards), G Marco Belinelli (free agent, Bulls).
COACH: Monty Williams, third season with Hornets, third season overall; 67-81.
EYES ON: Gordon and Davis. Gordon played in only nine games last season because of a right knee injury, but the Hornets won six of those games. Davis will start at power forward right away.
OUTLOOK: With Tom Benson, also owner of the NFL’s Saints, now the man in charge of the Hornets, expectations are that Williams and the talented young roster will have all the support they need to grow into a playoff contender. The question is, how soon?
LAST SEASON: 34-32, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Jeremy Lin (14.6 ppg, 3.05 rpg, 6.2 apg), G Kevin Martin (17.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.8 apg), C Omer Asik (3.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.5 apg), F Chandler Parsons (9.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.1 apg), F Patrick Patterson (7.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.8 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: Lin (free agent, Knicks), C Asik (free agent, Bulls), G/F Carlos Delfino (free agent, Bucks), G Toney Douglas (trade, Knicks), G Jeremy Lamb (draft, No. 12), F Royce White (draft, No. 16), F Terrence Jones (draft, No. 18).
KEY LOSSES: G Kyle Lowry (trade, Raptors); G Goran Dragic (free agent, Suns), F Luis Scola (waived, amnesty clause); F Chase Budinger (trade, Timberwolves), C Samuel Dalembert (trade, Bucks), C Marcus Camby (trade, Knicks).
COACH: Kevin McHale, second season with Rockets, fourth season overall; 73-87.
EYES ON: Lin. The Rockets envision Lin as their point guard of the future and a cornerstone of their rebuilding effort.
OUTLOOK: Houston tore apart its roster and is virtually starting over with youth. Even McHale acknowledges the Rockets will take some lumps. Making the playoffs seems like a long shot.
The Associated Press