The NBA season has sneaked upon us, and preseason has many people talking.
This time last year, we were fired up on LeBron James and Miami possibly getting another ring, and whether or not Oklahoma City could fight and make the Finals.
Early picks for the Finals have already started debates.
For this article, lets move away from Cleveland with the Cavaliers possibly having one of the best rosters with LeBron returning home or even Chicago having a healthy Derrick Rose.
My early pick for the 2015 NBA Finals winner is the Los Angeles Clippers.
From a personal perspective the Clippers have been a team that has received much of the respect they honestly deserve.
They have a growing franchise that has a terrific future ahead of them.
The Clippers finished the season number one in offensive efficiency and seventh on the defensive side,
Last season the Clippers won their division at 57-24 in Doc Rivers first year as coach and Alvin Gentry as the lead assistant to coordinate the offense.
This creates more expectations for this year’s team.
This takes us to who we should look out for, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin; who have a deep roster centered around them.
Griffin had some rough times but this past season was one of the best for this power forward.
In a six-game stretch last season in February he dropped 35 plus points.
He hit 71 percent of his free throws and placed fifth in free throw percentage just after placing 20th the season before.
Griffin was also a leading factor in guiding the team to almost sweep through the playoffs.
Paul is hands-down one of the leagues best point guards.
In the Western Conference semi-finals last season Paul averaged 22.5 points (51/45/75 splits), 11.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game.
Another key player for the Clippers is DeAndre Jordan.
One continuous problem for Los Angeles was the question of not having quality rim protection.
Coach Rivers turned Jordan, a big man with exquisite potential, into the NBA leader in rebounds per game and field-goal percentage, as well monster on the defensive end capable of making it possible for any guys eat the ball whenever they try to drive the ball.
We can’t forget quality veterans like J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford and Glen Davis who chip into many rotations for this team.
The prime players for the team have remained the same however, they have made some changes that look to become prime additions to the team.
Changes like signing Spencer Hawes, Expe Udoh and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
Hawes can be represented as a superb back up big man that the Clippers lacked, and Udoh can provide reasonable defensive help to keep them in the ranks.
As long as Griffin can improve his mid-range game and can help drag defenders out of the paint along with Jordan they have a chance.
The Clippers have grown from horrible turmoil over previous owner and the downward spiral of that.
The Clippers are an improved franchise looking to make it to the finals and take it all as they previously had the chance to do.
My prediction to the win the NBA Finals this year might be a surprise to some people but I truly believe that the Dallas Mavericks can not only compete for the NBA title this year, but I feel like they will win the whole thing.
If you look at the Dallas Mavericks’ roster from top to bottom, they have a team that has experience and talent.
We all know the seven-foot German, Dirk Nowitzki is the face of the Dallas Mavericks, but his supporting class this year is a lot better than it’s been previous years.
The owner, Pittsburgh native Mark Cuban, did a great job this off-season making some big moves to help his team take the next step to advance in the rugged Western Conference.
The Mavs were able to make some trades and pick up some players in free agency this off-season.
They picked up Chandler Parsons, Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, Richard Jefferson and Tyson Chandler.
Chandler was on the Mavericks earlier in his career for a year before he left to play for the New York Knicks for three seasons.
Chandler was a part of the Mavericks last championship team.
Chandler can help Nowitzki out in the paint like he did in 2010 to protect the rim and grab boards.
Chandler is known for his defense, and his presence alone under the rim will stop a lot of easy baskets.
This will take pressure off Nowitzki and it will help Dirk get back to what he likes to do, score the basketball.
The biggest pick-up the Mavericks made this off-season though, was going to get Parsons.
Parsons was previously with the Houston Rockets and was known for his shooting and ability to score the ball.
Parsons averaged 17 points, four assists and six rebounds per game last year for the Rockets.
Parsons being a wing man next Monta Ellis and Nowitzki will help expand the floor.
Ellis was the second leading scorer for the Mavs last year behind Nowitzki. Ellis averaged 19 points per game last year.
I expect the Mavericks to be one of the top teams in points per game this season.
Now to the role players.
The Mavs are experienced at the point guard position now like they were in 2010 when they had Jason Kidd and J.J. Barea.
Raymond Felton, Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris are the three people who will control the ball this season.
Felton and Nelson are veterans in this league who both played on multiple playoff teams.
Nelson played in the 2008-2009 NBA Finals for the Orlando Magic against the Los Angeles Lakers.
When I look at this roster, it reminds me of the 2010-2011 team that defeated the Miami Heat in six games.
Deep at the point guard position, a center to control the paint, some role players coming off the bench to contribute on scoring and the best seven-foot shooter this league ever seen.
The Mavericks took the defending champion Spurs to seven games last year in the first round of the playoffs.
If they’re able to get out the always tough Western Conference, I expect them to win it all.
With an upgraded roster this season, watch out for that team down in Texas.
They’re capable of making some noise this season.