The San Antonio Spurs are probably the best in the Southwest division, despite the continuing decline of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, not making our all-division team, while the Memphis Grizzlies are hoping that this is the season they take over and carry that momentum into the playoffs.
Point Guard – Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Every year it seems people are surprised that Tony Parker has actually taken over the Spurs and has become their most important player. It’s been like this for about 3-4 seasons, with Manu Ginobili in and out of the team due to injuries and Tim Duncan spending more and more time on the bench, getting him ready and rested for the postseason. Parker averaged 18.3 points and a career high 7.7 assists per game, and the Spurs, despite the improving crew around the big-three, need Parker to perform in the same level.
Shooting Guard – Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets
Actually, this is Eric Gordon’s first season with the Hornets. He played in only 9 games last season, averaging some nice numbers but they didn’t really matter. This season, with Anthony Davis (number one draft pick) and the arrival of Ryan Anderson, expectations are just a little bit higher for the Hornets and especially from Gordon, who might have been in the Dream team if he’d have gone through a full season last year.
Small Forward – Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies
Another season in which Rudy Gay is supposed to take it to the next level, in which he’s more than just an almost All-Star and actually makes the All-Star team and turns into an offensive juggernaut. He averaged 19 points per game last season, but the Griz fell disappointingly early in the postseason against the Clippers. With the kind of team and personnel they have there right now, they need to win now or the package falls apart, and Gay having a big season, and more importantly consistent in his offensive ouptut, is a big part of that.
Big Man I – Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
It’s been a slow decline for one of the more unique big men in the history of the NBA, and last season he posted his lowest points average (21.6 points per game) since his sophomore season as his playing time, due to the fact that he’s 34 and entering his 15th NBA season. The Mavs avoided the rebuild last season, obviously because of being the failing defending NBA champions. This season is going to be another push before the inevitable end of the post-Nowitzki era.
Big Man II – Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Gasol made his first all-star game in 2012, finishing the season averaging 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds. He’s the anchor of a very good Grizzlies defense that has to be much better with their half court offense, which has a lot to do with Gasol continuing his improvement, especially on the offensive side.