It’s still a young season and teams are still forming but it’s already looking like a certain division is making a case for complete and utter domination.
The great Southwest Division hosts just two teams with titles with Houston and San Antonio but the record shows that this group of teams is serious. The Spurs, the Hornets and the Mavs are starting this 2010-11 season off hot. These three teams have already combined for 34 wins while the closest division’s top three can only boast 29 (The Northwest Division with Utah, Oklahoma City and Portland).
The Spurs are proving that with time they are just getting better. San Antonio runs a tight ship with a good mixture of old and new talent. It’s essentially a conveyor belt of great players with David Robinson to Tim Duncan to Tony Parker to now George Hill.
Right now, the Spurs are sitting at 13-1 with a 12-game winning streak. They haven’t lost a game since October 30th against the New Orleans Hornets who were in the midst of their own insane run (we will get to them later). They are second in the league in scoring with 108 a game and fifth in the league in assists with 23 a game.
So far, they have won in Utah, in Oklahoma, in Phoenix and in Charlotte. Their backcourt has only been outmatched twice against the Suns and Chicago. The frontcourt is definitely questionable at this point but they are still winning games. Duncan is having a fairy inconsistent start and DeJaun Blair is obviously experiencing a sophomore slump with only six points a game.
Regardless, the Spurs are good. Both of their last two seasons started off 8-6 and they always seem to roll-out wins after the All-Star break. We may be talking about these Spurs a little sooner than expected as a realistic force in the West but we will see what happens as the season develops.
The New Orleans Hornets are going through a similar run and it’s keeping a certain point guard happy… for now. Chris Paul and company are really locking it down on defense with only giving up 92 points a game (3rd in the league). They held San Antonio to 90 points, Milwaukee scored only 81, the Clippers only managed 82 points and Sacramento could only muster up 71.
They started the season off 8-0 and lost their first game in Dallas. They eventually came back home two days later and managed to beat the Mavericks 98-95. Teams are only shooting 43 percent against them and they give up the least amount of steals in the league with only 5.3 a game. Head coach Monty Williams worked for Nate McMillan and is obviously utilizing some of the defensive sets he learned in Portland.
Emeka Okafor is averaging almost a double-double with an additional two steals a game with only 30 minutes of playing time a night. With his efficiency and David West’s ability to bring in 30 points some nights, the frontcourt is intimidating.
However, Marcus Thornton is off to a slow start this season. He came in last year when Paul was out but really can’t seem to find his stroke. Williams is limiting his minutes with only 13 a game and we know that he can score when given the opportunity. The acquisition of Jarrett Jack will take some time to work out and they seem to have hit a slump dropping two games in a row last week.
New Orleans is good but we have yet to see how it will last. They have to play in Portland, come back home to take on San Antonio before flying to Oklahoma City to play the Thunder all in the next five days. We still have yet to see if CP3 will stay happy too…
Next, Dallas has a well-deserved 10-4 record with a current four-game winning streak. Opponents have only scored 100 points against them four times so far this season and they are ranked fourth in the league in points allowed with only 92 a game.
They have racked up some pretty impressive wins against teams such as Boston, OKC, Atlanta and Denver but winning early is nothing new for the Mavs that started off last season 10-4. However, Dallas can contribute its winning to its newly formed frontcourt with Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood under the rim. Rick Carlisle seems to have found a rotation that is keeping opponents on their heels. Having two decent big guys is definitely better than one.
In addition, Dirk Nowitzki is going nuts. He’s averaging just over 27 points per game in the month of November. He’s scoring 26.4 a night and only averaged more a game in 2005-06 (the year they made it to the Finals).
We aren’t saying there’s a possibility of a Championship rematch at the American Airlines Arenas (ha) but the Mavs are good. However, their month ends with games against San Antonio and Miami on back-to-back nights.
When we discuss some of the best in the league, the Southwest Division is always mentioned. It is one reason the West is so strong and always provides perennial postseason foes for everyone.