By Michael Knight | Reporter
Basketball season is officially back. The NBA started preseason last week as the sport returns from its three-month hiatus.
Waco happens to be right in the middle of three NBA franchises: the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. Let’s take a look at how these teams may have changed in the offseason and how the year might look for them.
The Dallas Mavericks are the closest team in proximity to Waco. Last season, they finished with a record of 33-49, second to last in the Western Conference. They saw improvement from the previous season thanks to the star-power of rookie Luka Doncic but ended up not being close to a playoff berth.
In an attempt to improve they traded for the young and talented, but injured, Kristaps Porzingis in January. Now healthy, they will look to take that next step and make the postseason.
What is the ceiling for the Mavericks? McKinney junior Mark Liles chimed in with his thoughts.
“I say that the best-case scenario,” Liles said. “If the Western Conference isn’t as good as it was in the last few years, I don’t think the Mavs are going to be anywhere in the top four, but I could see them being a five or six seed, maybe.”
The Mavericks begin preseason action on tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Houston Rockets are coming off of a season where they finished 53-29, good for fourth in the Western Conference, but were eliminated in the second round of playoffs by the Golden State Warriors.
In the offseason they made a blockbuster trade with the Thunder, getting former MVP Russell Westbrook in exchange for their then-star point guard, Chris Paul.
In an interview with Bleacher Report, the general manager of the Rockets, Daryl Morey, claimed that this move increases the championship odds of the team by “about 30 percent.” Could Houston be bringing home a title this season?
The Rockets began their preseason with a 140-71 victory over the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association last Monday night and won again on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The San Antonio Spurs finished last season with a record of 48-34, seventh in the Western Conference, and were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the first round of playoffs.
The Spurs didn’t make any major moves during the offseason to improve but they did sign some guys to bolster the bench. Point guard Dejounte Murray, who missed last season due to a torn ACL, will also be back in the mix.
Will San Antonio have the firepower to compete with some of the top teams in their conference? They have made the playoffs in 22-straight seasons, so it is tough to imagine that this year will be any different.
The Spurs began their preseason on Saturday night when they lost to the Orlando Magic, 125-89.
As the famous super-team, the Golden State Warriors, took a hit with the loss of superstar Kevin Durant, the NBA as a whole has more balance this upcoming year.
The league is more focused on teams with two star players, like some of these Texas teams have. According to Spring, Texas junior Josh Barber, the NBA will be watchable again.
“This year, I’ve decided to watch the NBA because it is no longer going to be the Golden State show,” Barber said. “The [Western Conference’s] talent has been diversified throughout the league and there are going to be a lot more contenders this year.”
The preseason will go on until Oct. 22 when the first official games get started.