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Category: Season Previews

Know Thy Enemy: Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks

Last Season:50-32 (.610, 3rd in the Southwest Division, 6th in the Western Conference)

Key Additions: Traded for Shawn Marion and Kris Humphries, signedDrew Gooden, Tim Thomas and Quinton Ross, drafted Rodrigue Beubois
Key Losses: Brandon Bass, Jerry Stackhouse, Ryan Hollings, Antoine Wright, Devean GeorgeDirk

Generally speaking, folks who do this sort of thing for a living have tabbed three teams as primary threats to the Lakers in the Western Conference: Portland, San Antonio, and Denver (quibble about the order amongst yourselves, that's how I'd arrange them at least in terms of wins). If there's a fourth team capable of crashing the party, it's likely the Mavs. It's a big if. Capital I, capital F. (There would be more, but it's a short word.) Dallas will be good, but for them to crash the party at the top of the conference, a lot has to go right. But it's not beyond imagination.

The addition of Marion to the core of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Josh Howard gives Rick Carlisle and Co. heaps of offensive versatility and a wide variety of dynamic players to help push the squad. There are plenty of questions. Marion's presence necessitates a bit of a lineup shuffle. They don't have much going on in the post after Erick Dampier, and he's not all that much himself. Gooden will play some center, but he's undersized there for sure. Plus, to say the Mavs are a veteran bunch would be an understatement. Some would call them old.

To help get some insight into the happenings in Big D, I hit up Philip Baggett over at MavsMoneyball.com with some questions. Click below for the answers, but only if you want the truth, and feel you can handle it.

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Know Thy Enemy: New Orleans Hornets

New Orleans Hornets

Last Season: 49-33 (.598, 4th in the Southwest Division- and when 49 wins is fourth, that's a good division- 7th in the Western Conference

Key Additions: Traded for Emeka Okafor, Darius Songaila, signed Ike Diogu, drafted Darren Collison, Marcus Thornton
Key Losses: Rasual Butler, Tyson Chandler, Antonio Daniels, Ryan Bowen

I have a well known (among the residents of my home, meaning my wife) prejudice against Wood veneer certain types of mainstream designer furniture. Different items from your Crate and Barrels, your Pottery Barns and so on. It's not that the stuff doesn't look nice. It does. Gangbusters, really. My issues instead are with build quality. Too much of the stuff uses veneers. Scratch it, bang it, or otherwise lose the kid gloves, and suddenly all you see is lesser quality wood below. Or (gasp!) some sort of particle board. In that sense, the New Orleans Hornets are very similar. The appointments make for a potentially stylish unit. Chris Paul is flat out sick. (Andy recently joked how at this point my man crush on CP3 may require changing my Facebook status from "married" to "it's complicated.") David West is a very solid player. Okafor represents an upgrade over Chandler. 

After that, though, things get dangerously close to particle board.

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Know thy enemy: Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles ClippersClippers Bear

Last Season: 19-63 (.232, 4th in Pacific Division, 14th in the Western Conference)

Key Additions: Drafted Blake Griffin, traded for Craig Smith, Sebastian Telfair, Rasual Butler.
Key Subtractions: Zach Randolph, Paul Davis, Zach Randolph, Mike Taylor, Fred Jones, Zach Randolph, Zach Randolph, Alex Acker (I kid), Zach Randolph, Zach Randolph, and Zach Randolph.

(Look, it's Clipper Bear-rell! Cue collective groan...)

A Heaven's Gate franchise for nearly their entire existence, 2008-2009 may just have been their Gigli.Or vice versa. Or maybe it was their Meet Dave/Adventures of Pluto Nash. Whatever the cinematic comparison, for LA's other squad it was, even relative to a history fairly riddled with this sort of thing, a total disaster from start to finish. Last summer's triumph of landing Baron Davis immediately went sour for the Clippers when Elton Brand defected to Philadelphia. Davis showed up out of shape, got hurt, shot 37% when he did manage to play, and didn't get along with Mike Dunleavy. Essentially, he brought nothing to the floor except Kate Hudson. Davis was hardly the only problem. Marcus Camby was injured in the preseason. Ricky Davis got hurt, as did Chris Kaman. Jason Williams retired before he ever suited up. Maybe he had a vision?

It all served to kick the jersey maker into overdrive. Over the course of the season, trades- including perhaps the worst swap of the decade, bringing in Randolph and his tailor-made-for-bad-teams game and albatross of a contract- and injuries put 19 different guys in red, white, and blue.

Not exactly a recipe for continuity.

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Know thy enemy: Sacramento Kings

It's back! Our yearly tour of the Western Conference. We'll go in reverse order of last year's finish, leading up to the start of the season.

Sacramento KingsSacramento Kings pufy ball

Last Season: 17-65 (.207, 5th in the Pacific Division, 15th in the Western Conference. Had there been 20 teams, they'd likely have been 20th.)

Key Additions: Drafted Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, and Jon Brockman. Signed Sean May, Desmond Mason. Traded for Sergio Rodriguez.
Key Subtrations: Guys like John Salmons and Brad Miller went to the Bulls at the trade deadline last year. Other than that, they really didn't have many key players to subtract. Can Shelden Williams and Bobby Brown be considered "key?" It's a reasonable question.

Arco Arena may be filled with barn-like "aw shucks" charm and deafening noise when the team is good, but when the Kings suck- and they suuuuuuuuck- it's a horrible venue. Genuinely awful. It should be replaced, but when that'll happen is an open question. The Maloofs say the team isn't going anywhere, but at the same time acknowledge that the economy, particularly in California, isn't exactly conducive to the construction of this sort. (You may have heard the economy has taken a bad turn?) So, at least in theory, they'll wait... and in the meantime seem unlikely to spend any money bettering the squad. That means a foreseeable future in which the Kings rarely win and the building is rarely filled, save those nights when the Lakers come to town and the place is packed with Kobe jerseys. Or maybe they'll move after all.

Either way, the citizens of Sacramento deserve better. What else do they have?

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